Dante Alighieri never had the pleasure of knowing Donald Trump – the Italian author of “Dante’s Inferno” died nearly 700 years ago – but he nevertheless nailed the so-called president when he opined that “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”
We saw this yesterday, in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The contemptible coward, having sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind, couldn’t bring himself to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis with even a scintilla of the fervor he reserves for, say, Rosie O’Donnell. Really, how hard is it to condemn home-grown Nazis? Apparently it’s too heavy a lift for this amoral pretender to the presidency.
He’s fine with sliming a Gold Star family, ridiculing Mika Brzezinski for a (non-existent) bleeding facelift, deriding Mitch McConnell as lazy, calling James Comey a “nutjob,” race-baiting Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” assailing pretty much everyone who isn’t family…but there’s a loophole. If you march in the street with swatstikas and white-supremacist shields, chanting about “blood and soil” (a favorite Nazi slogan), then he gives you a pass.
And to think that 184,000 American soldiers died in Europe, fighting to protect us from Nazis.
After a white racist terrorist plowed his car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer and injuring 19, Trump showed up at a country club podium and disgorged a vague lament about violence “on many sides.” Then he fled as fast as his bulk could take him, refusing to answer press questions. Questions like whether, by dint of his hate rhetoric, he feels he bears any responsibility for emboldening the rabble that had tried to turn a college town into a mini-Nuremberg circa 1933.
Of course, denying responsibility would’ve made him look even worse, because the sheer weight of the evidence renders him guilty as charged. Yesterday’s spilt blood is on his hands.
White supremacists have been crowing all year that they finally have a friend in the White House – and no wonder. Steve Bannon, whose website Breitbart.com has called itself “the platform of the alt-right,” dog-whistles them all the time, and Trump has thrilled white supremacists by (among other things) assailing an American judge of Mexican descent, retweeting garbage from neo-Nazi sites and from white supremacists with names like “white-genocide-TM.” Last year, his campaign posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed on a sea of dollars – that first surfaced on a white supremacist site. His campaign tapped a white nationalist leader to be a delegate, and dumped the guy only after the maneuver was exposed. Trump himself was fine with being endorsed by David Duke, and disavowed it only under pressure.
There’s no point listing more abundant evidence. We know by now who and what this guy is.
Last November, 54 percent of the voting electorate knew intuitively that he would debase himself, disgrace the presidency, and shame this nation. As Heather Heyer, yesterday’s terrorist victim, posted on Facebook shortly after the election, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
Not enough voters paid the requisite attention, tragically oblivious to the gathering storm, and so we are left not knowing when or how we can escape its fury. Congressional Republicans won’t help. They lined up yesterday to condemn the neo-Nazis in highly specific language, but, predictably, most of them avoided rebuking the little man (whom they helped elect) for his latest moral failure. A failure that the Nazi website celebrated yesterday: “Trump comments were good…no condemnation at all…God bless him.”
What a shame that giving aid and comfort to neo-Nazis doesn’t by itself constitute a high crime and misdemeanor. What a shame that the Founding Fathers didn’t require impeachment in cases where the president is simply a miserable excuse for a human being.
I’m off traveling tomorrow, back on Tuesday.