No ‘fine’ Nazis

America cannot tolerate white supremacists any longer

By Nikki Aqui, Opinion Editor

When images of a large group of people carrying torches and Nazi flags took to the internet, most people who saw them were left it in a state of confusion.

This public display of pure hatred and bigotry seemed like an event from 60 years ago — something that would be taught in a history class.

Many had taken part in what quickly turned into a white nationalist rally, ostensibly assembled to protect a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va., after plans to remove the figure.

Regardless of conflicted feelings some people have about the icons of the Confederacy, the problem with the protest was clearly the Nazi chants, swastikas and racial anti-Semitic slurs.

Counter protesters pushed back, and that angered many, including James Alex Fields.

Fields went on to drive his car into counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

I saw the images on social media, and I was shocked.

Most people were — except, perhaps, the one person who most needed to be in a time of national strife: President Donald Trump.

In response, an unpresidential statement was made by our president in reference to what is an act of domestic terrorism.

“What took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story,” Trump said. “I think there is blame on both sides for the violence, and there were very fine people on both sides.”

But the “fine people” President Trump defended are white nationalists, who have a goal to spread hate, racism, homophobia and sexism. Donald, this isn’t what I would correlate with a “fine” group of people.    

Tolerating the hate we saw in Charlottesville, Va., is dangerous. Not taking a stance against racism that costs people their lives is only giving people like Fields even larger grounds to target people of color.

The impact is institutionalized racism and murder. Not condemning bigots is equivalent to telling them that their mindset is OK.

Presidents generally understand they have an important role to play when the nation faces tragedy, and that role doesn’t involve further inflaming racial tensions.

When the 9/11 terrorist attack took place, President George W. Bush stated, “Islam is peace. The perpetrators of these attacks do not represent Islam, they represent war and terror.”

Bush told the nation that America would not blame a single religion for the attacks and in doing do, helped limit those who might have sought to lash out with hate. It is important that our leaders encourage the best in us and not the worst.

I can’t help but think if a person of color committed a similar attack to what Fields did, they would quickly be labeled as a terrorist.

When a white person commits a terrorist attack it is “just the individual,” mental illness or a “bad childhood.”

Change only takes place when people address that change is needed and necessary.

No form of hate should not be tolerated anywhere. Not at Lawrence High School, not Free State and definitely not in the mind of the president of the United States of America.