It wasn't a pretty picture and the news coming out of Charlottesville was frightening. I worried about loved ones who live there, and hoped they would be safe. For the ones I thought might be showing up to counter-protest, I simply sent up prayers.
Ultimately, we had a moment of clarity when #45 initially blamed "many sides...many sides..." for the carnage. He walked it back later. And then finally, bolstered by the gold and marble of his lair in NYC, he returned to the theme of blaming the demonstrators who protested the neo-nazi/KKK/flaggers/gun nuts/whatever else you want to call them.
So people who wanted to be present and to bear witness against those who would show up in their community, seeking to threaten, intimidate and otherwise let them damn liberals know who's in that white house NOW, are suddenly wrong? They should not have held a counter-protest?
To be sure, I had mixed feelings. I thought that if the nut jobs were allowed to do their thing and no one batted an eye or showed up to demonstrate against them it would take the wind out of their sails. But the more I thought about it, the less comfortable I was with that notion. That's what the Germans did until it got to the point where they didn't dare speak out.
Today I want us to remember. I want us to remember what large scale extermination of groups of people was like during the 1930s and 1940s in Europe when Hitler was in power. I want us to remember what our troops discovered when they began liberating Europe, the shock that General Eisenhower felt at the sight of the death camps, and the victims who survived but who are now dying out as elderly men and women. I want us to remember the dwindling numbers of those soldiers who fought to save a country from its worst impulses.
I want us to understand that if left to their own devices, the extremists would do the same thing here in America. We're simply not immune from this because our country, like it or not, harbors a lot of animosity toward "the other."
If it's not Irish or Italians not needing to apply, it's separate water fountains. If it's not anti-Semite or anti-Catholic, it's anti-Muslim or anti-fill-in-the-blank. No matter the era, Americans keep having to fight the same damned battles. If we are better than this, if America is better than this, then tell me WHY this kind of stuff never goes away?
Thanks to those who took their marbles and went home, or failed to believe a woman would care about their employment issues, we are left with a con artist and a religious zealot, who are in turn being led by extremists. These people feed the frenzied haters on a steady diet of lies and distortions that tap into their paranoia.
Today I am calling upon Senator Saunders to get off his high horse, pay his dues to the Democratic Party, and begin mending fences with the party. The days of divide and conquer are upon us, and he knows better than any of us, how it feels to be marginalized. He needs to take that knowledge, and apply it to bringing the party together to stand against this shame we are living through.
And I am calling upon the rest of the Democrats to forgive and forget, learn our lessons from what happens when we stay home from the polls, and to unite not just the party, but the nation. It is time to promote healing. Urge our elected officials to reach out to those across the aisle who are also feeling shame and outrage. Help them save face by presenting them with options that they can, if they listen to their better angels, get behind.
The extremists feel like they finally have a voice. Whatever they did in Charlottesville, they did for #45. They said so and we should believe them. They do have a right to speak out, but they do not have the right to threaten and intimidate. And we have the right and the duty to repudiate every last one of them, from the top dog on down.
We need to prune these branches judiciously, burn the diseased branches, and make way for fresh growth. But we will never be able to do that until we make our elected officials aware of how dangerous this game they are playing has become. Make them accountable for what happened in Charlottesville. Make them understand that we will resist and that it won't take millions of dollars to get good people elected because we will be showing up at the polls.