We have previously reviewed the story of racism in America, its long history and the efforts of two of America’s best presidents to free black individuals.* One of the presidents to which I make reference is the historic President Abraham Lincoln, who led and won a war for black freedom in 1860. It was an incomplete liberation, though. Black people were freed from slavery, but for a century they were second-class citizens under strict segregationist laws, until President John F. Kennedy came along in 1960. He began the draft of an equal rights bill, which was passed during the administration of his successor, Lyndon Johnson, after Kennedy’s assassination, the first assassination to occur in many years.
Yet, racism did not end. It waxes and wanes depending on the events of the day. It is no wonder that it surfaced after the election of the black president, Barack Obama, and intensified after the election of President Donald Trump!
The story begins in the prominent city of Charlottesville, in the also famous state of Virginia. It was from this state that the first sparks of the American Revolution were ignited more than two centuries ago. It was a revolution that ended with the establishment of one of the most powerful empires in history, which still governs the world to this day. This state is also where one of America’s most important presidents, and its most prominent thinker, Thomas Jefferson ([president from] 1801-1809), lived.
A few days ago, a group of white racists demonstrated with the goal of joining extreme right-wing forces. It was clear from the slogans they chanted that they were in a state of total agitation. They chanted slogans calling for expulsion of blacks and Jews from the United States. They called for the use of violence. Then a counterdemonstration emerged and there was violent friction between the two parties, which culminated in a racist demonstrator storming into the midst of people opposing the racist demonstration — peaceful demonstrators — with his car. The incident ended with the death of one woman and injuries to dozens of other people.
The story dominated American media and became the subject of discussion on the street. The American media, which Trump fiercely opposes, asked him to denounce what had happened. President Trump said that he condemned the violence regardless of its source. He also said that the behavior of the demonstrators in Charlottesville did not represent American values. Then the media attacked him, accusing him of not daring to call out the extreme right movements, such as the Ku Klux Klan, by name, implicitly accusing Trump of being a racist.
Two days later, Trump held a press conference denouncing the far-right movements by name, just as the media requested. Only this time, the media accused him of being late!! He was the first to do it on day one! It seems that this irritated Trump, and rightfully so. So, he came out a third time to reissue his first statement, i.e., a denunciation of all extremism, the extremist right and those who demonstrated against them. I have no doubt that Trump, who is stubborn by nature, intended to provoke the media after he came to the conclusion that the media would attack him no matter what he did. This is indeed the reality. With the current turmoil in the American arena, we need to raise two important questions. The first is related to the relationship between Trump and the extreme right. The second relates to accusations directed at him by the U.S. media, which is biased against Trump and claim that he is a racist. This will be the subject of our next article!**
*Translator’s Note: The author previously published an opinion entitled “America: A Tale of Racism” on Aug. 17, 2017, at http://www.al-jazirah.com/2017/20170817/ln14.html. It was originally published by the same media outlet.
**Translator’s Note: The author published a follow-up opinion piece on Aug. 21, 2017 entitled “Trump…the Media, and the Conservative Right!” at http://www.al-jazirah.com/2017/20170821/ln27.htm.