July 17th, 2024

A dangerous game in Virginia

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on August 17, 2017.

For 70 years there has been no easier question for a politician than whether they approve or disapprove of Nazism.

Yet, in an age of morphed messaging, parsing, high-volume debate, hair-splitting and political posturing, it’s beyond the top leadership in the United States.

Donald Trump’s recent flip-flop on whether he condemns a hate rally in Virginia proves it.

Many will say it’s not a flip nor flop, of course.

He condemned racism and racist groups on Monday, for the record.

On Tuesday, however, we saw the most powerful man in the Western Hemisphere explode the issue.

He painted his counter-protesters and his opponents with the same brush as torch-bearing Neo-Nazis and Klansmen, while frankly dumbing down and defraying the well-held opinions of the majority of his supporters.

It’s not a surprise tact. It’s page No. 1 of his playbook, in fact, and what won him the presidency.

It’s a game of “what abouts!”

Sexual misconduct: What about Bill Clinton?

Fake news emanating from Russia: What about CNN?

His tax returns: What about the Clinton Foundation?

His popularity among white supremacist groups: What about the “alt-left”?

Avowed Nazi drives car into counterprotest, killing a woman: What about, what about, what about…

The debatable underlying premise to this tactic is that since “both sides” could be seen to do something in the wrong, why bother determining which is more and which is less?

That’s a good definition of “moral relativism” — a fancy term that those on the right of centre in North America used to lament.

There is a right and a wrong, they said, regarding crime, earning an honest living and all manners of living in a free and democratic society.

They still lament it, actually, claiming that “rewriting” of history books and indeed the removal of Confederate statues (the flash point of violence on the weekend) denies certain truths about history.

That legitimate argument is harder to make now that it has been hijacked by hate groups and bastardized by Trump.

He is once again trying to deflect a firestorm of criticism towards fake news and elites, eggheads who don’t understand regular Americans, and the media.

There is no room for nuanced discussion or compromise when swastikas are present, the great truth of history has shown. And, that’s their policy, not anyone else’s.

An overstated threat of anarchists (the so-called alt-left), involves numbers likely less than the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.

They now represent the entire left of the spectrum to Trump, who ironically implied that average people with real concerns are being painted by leftists, elites and others as fascists.

The vast majority of his supporters are not, and perhaps only an insignificant number are.

We can give Trump the benefit of the doubt that he’s no Nazi. Even then, however, he’s at minimum playing a very dangerous game with very dangerous people in an attempt to advance his own political situation.

Those who still defend the president this week should be asking themselves if there’s such a thing as right and wrong.

If it’s all shades of gray, however, one must determine if words, actions and beliefs are closer to darkness or light.

(Collin Gallant is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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