Inconceivable in Europe: Militiamen in camouflage, armed with assault weapons, keep guard over a demonstration of right-wing extremists and racists in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is Saturday at 1:14 p.m. when an official tweet from the city of Charlottesville goes online, discussing an automobile accident. It is quickly clear: A right-wing extremist has steered his car directly into a group of counterdemonstrators; in the process, 32-year-old Heather Heyer is killed. The president will later say that “all sides” bear a share of the blame. Under public pressure, Trump doesn’t find more explicit words until Monday: Neo-Nazis, the racist Ku Klux Klan or other hate-filled groups have no place in the U.S., says Trump without any great passion. At the same time, pressure mounts on the U.S. president to get rid of his ultra-right chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who maintains good contacts with the extremist scene.
Since Charlottesville, it is clear: In Trump’s America, members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists of the “alt-right” movement* march openly. Trump acts – hardly surprisingly – like an accelerant to an already torn American society. And with Trump in the White House, the world receives a clear view of the ugly American: hollow, militant and radical. After the dubious revelation about the Russia connection, it was highly questionable that the Republican Party would rein in the 45th president. After the most recent events, Republican congressmen will betray all values that stand for a civilized America if they continue to place a protective hand over the demagogue in the White House.
In spite of all that, one should not forget that Trump is a distorted caricature of a horrible United States. On day 201 of his presidency, after all, 60 percent of U.S. citizens stated that they are dissatisfied with Trump’s administration. Heather Heyer paid with her life for advocating in favor of U.S. core values and against the hate in Charlottesville. In front of Trump Tower in Manhattan, upright New Yorkers demonstrate against Trump; the media and institutions hold Trump responsible. They are doing their jobs; now it’s time for Republican congressmen to do theirs.
*Editor’s note: “Alt-right” is a term used to describe an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and populism, or more simply, a white nationalist movement.