Evangelist Franklin Graham (shown) was blunt in his rebuke of those who seized upon the tragic violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as yet another way to attack President Donald Trump, declaring, “Shame on the politicians who are trying to push blame on President Trump for what happened in #Charlottesville, VA. That’s absurd.”
In a climate in which Trump's every word is scrutinized and twisted, it should not be surprising that both Democrat and Republican politicians would, as Graham said, attempt to use the events in Charlottesville for some political advantage.
In the aftermath of the weekend protests in which some white supremacists and neo-Nazis were using the city government’s decision to remove the statue of Confederate icon General Robert E. Lee to their own advantage and agenda — only to be met by counter-protesters with another agenda who clashed violently with them — President Trump issued a short statement: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”
Because the president failed to attack the “white nationalists” and the “alt-right movement” by name in his remarks, politicians and activists looking for a way to slur Trump implied that all the responsibility for the violence was on one side.
For example, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) took issue with Trump’s statement, asserting, “Mr. President — we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.” Gardner’s tweet certainly won praise from the “Blame Trump First” crowd, but he was not alone. Another Republican and frequent antagonist of Trump, Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), had harsh words for the “Unite the Right” rally (but not for the counter-protesters, without whose presence there would have been no violence), calling it an example of “hate and bigotry.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered his own criticism of Trump’s characterization of the events, tweeting that it was “very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists.” Former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in with his own tweet, saying, “There is only one side.”
From the statements by the various politicians, one would have almost thought that Trump had shouted “Sieg Heil!”
Graham noted that others bore some responsibility for the violence, asking, “What about the politicians such as the city council who voted to remove a memorial that had been in place since 1924, regardless of the possible repercussions?” It is a good question.
Another good question Graham asked was, “And why didn’t the mayor or the governor see that a powder keg was about to explode and stop it before it got started?” Instead of directing law enforcement to keep the two sides apart (each with violent characters included within them), they were allegedly too under-manned to do so.
Graham was not alone in his criticism of the mishandling of the volatile situation, although others present tended to blame the police. “The worst part is that people got hurt, and the police stood by and didn’t do a [expletive deleted] thing,” said David Copper of Staunton, Virginia.
“The whole point is to have overwhelming force so that people don’t get the idea they can do these kinds of things and get away with it,” stated Charles Ramsey, who heads up the Philadelphia police department. He explained that while the competing demonstrators “need to be in sight and sound of each other … somebody has to be in between. That’s usually the police.”
Leftist Cornel West complained that the police “didn’t do anything in terms of protecting the people of the community,” while Richard Spencer, a white nationalist and one of the rally’s leaders, said, “We came here as a demonstration for our movement, and we were effectively thrown to the wolves,” because, he said, the police “did not protect us.”
But in all fairness, the average police officer does not make the decision as to how many officers will be at such an event, and Graham did not accuse the police of shirking their responsibility. He apparently believes blame falls on the city government’s leaders, who failed to send enough officers to the event to avoid the violent confrontation.
“Instead” of blaming the local city government, Graham lamented, “they want to blame President Donald J. Trump for everything. Really, this boils down to evil in people’s hearts. Satan is behind it all. He wants division, he wants unrest, he wants violence and hatred.”
One can almost imagine that if an earthquake erupted somewhere, there would be politicians and media personalities lining up to say it is “Trump’s fault,” instead of a fault underneath the surface of the earth.
Photo: AP Images