from NPR – Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
Published August 13, 2017
As an American Indian, I rejected—and even laughed at—Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan last year. Slogans, such as “Make America Great Again,” are code words for “make America white again.” It is a slogan that has mobilized white nationalists across America. The reality is America has never been completely white; nor will it ever be. American Indians have been here since before Europeans arrived and we shall remain.
With the Russian investigation led by Robert Mueller threatening his presidency, in recent weeks, Trump has gone out into the country to rally his base. As president of the United States, he still uses the “Make America Great Again” slogan to rally his base of some 35 percent of Americans. And, his crowds roar with approval when he says it from his bully-pulpit now graced with the presidential seal.
This weekend, a part of the president’s base was out in full force in Charlottesville, Virginia, some 120 miles from Washington, D.C.
Friday night Trump’s base of young white guys marched through the campus of the University of Virginia, carrying tiki torches and chanting, “blood and soil,” “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us.”
During a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Saturday, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke called the event in line with Trump’s “promises.”
“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said. “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
Tragically, also on Saturday, a 20-year-old Kentucky transplant, now from a Toledo suburb, plowed his 2010 Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protesters. A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 were injured—five of whom were listed in critical condition on Saturday evening.
Saturday afternoon, the president failed to call out the neo-Nazis, white nationalists by name as he attempted to denounce the horrific violence in Charlottesville. He read from a prepared script saying things Americans want their president to say in response to hate calling the violence “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence…” Then he appeared to move off script and speak from his heart and added “on many sides, on many sides.”
The King James version of the Bible says “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
By speaking those words, the president’s “on many sides, on many sides” was nothing short of false equivalency. One should never make an excuse for a group of neo-Nazis; nor should they be put into the same category of “Black Lives Matter” members. Too many Americans died in World War II fighting to defeat Nazism.
The white nationalists rally in Charlottesville is what Trump’s “Make America Great Again” looks like. As Americans, we need to brace ourselves for more violence, bloodshed and more deaths. We live in a dangerous time.
As American Indians, we know the violence did not begin with the presidency of Donald Trump. It began a long time ago when many falsely believed America was great. I no longer laugh about the “Make America Great Again” slogan. I cringe when I hear it.