There is a problem with President Trump’s response to the conflict that occurred in the United States between white supremacist groups and their opposition. Immediately after the event, Trump started his response by avoiding passing any definite judgment on the white supremacists and racists involved in organizing the gathering. Trump made another statement after that, calling out those like the secret society of white supremacists and neo-Nazis as the ones to blame.
However, the next day, he pointed out that both sides were responsible for what happened, and asserted that among the white supremacists, there were also people acting calmly. Likewise, he said, there were violent people among the opposition, as well. It seems that he wants to say that the anti-discrimination group is also wrong and both are to blame. Is the president approving of discrimination after all? Such criticism can be heard across the United States.
On Aug. 12, groups including white supremacists and neo-Nazis organized a gathering and clashed with protesters. A car drove into a group of protesters and one woman died. More than 30 people were injured. The man who drove the car is thought to be a neo-Nazi sympathizer.
After the incident, the state’s governor declared that there is no place for white supremacists there. On the other hand, Trump’s comments were limited to saying that the violence on all sides was to blame.
During his presidential campaign last year, Trump repeatedly made prejudicial remarks against Muslims and women. White supremacist groups also supported Trump. It has been pointed out that Trump has emboldened racists.
Everyone has the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, there cannot be freedom of expression that denies other humans of their freedom and rights. Exclusion and unfair treatment with regard to such things as nationality, birthplace, color of skin, gender and disability are discrimination. Even in Japan, there have been hate demonstrations against Koreans who live in Japan and against foreigners. Prejudice against people with disabilities is believed to be the basis for the Sagamihara massacre.*
Prejudice divides society. Political leaders especially should feel a sense of vigilance. However, Japanese leaders have not often responded to discrimination. It does not end with the general view that prejudice is wrong. There should be resolute disapproval of open discrimination, such as demonstrations of hate.
*Editor’s note: The Sagamihara massacre refers to events on July 26, 2016, when 19 people were killed and 26 people were injured in stabbings at a care home for the disabled in Sagamihara, Japan.