Sadly, I am unable to begin this by saying that the events in Charlottesville indicate an awakening in the United States. Indicate a transformation, an America that woke up liberal and tolerant and went to bed confronted with revelations of the utter hatred felt by certain people they named family, friends, and neighbours.
Since the Civil War, American politics has always had a place for the most bigoted and socially unacceptable views. From the Ku Klux Klan to the various neo-Nazi gangs of organised thugs that marched in Charlottesville, the politics of hate have always been part of, and at times shaped, American history.
I'll try my best not to turn this into a classic lefty student American bashing rant. You don't need me to tell you about the genocides, bombings, regime toppling actions carried out in the name of freedom since 1945. Yet, despite the clear intolerance of the United States towards other nations, and the racism, hatred, and fear that has driven it to become the world superpower, it is hard to find a modern President who has refused to condemn, explicitly, white nationalists and Nazis, who has vocally supported their position regarding the destruction of Confederate linked monuments, and who manages to equate counter protestors to those who ram cars into crowds of innocents.
There can be no attempt, in any way, under any circumstances, ever, to justify blatant white supremacy.
That's a position that cannot only be supported by the left but also by liberals and even conservatives. (In a sort of cute, misguided way, considering they cause the problem. But we'll leave that for another day).
Yet the refusal of President Trump to do that which is not only expected of him but also right does not surprise me. It's not only the fact that these individuals helped put him in the White House, it's the fact that his political vision is cut from the same cloth as theirs. 'Trumpism' is a political phenomenon built upon a foundation of fear, the fear of people alienated from their politics and from each other, feeling the pinch of economic inequality and angry. 'Trumpism' directs their anger towards the 'other', bathes it in a sort of historical nostalgia for when America was 'theirs', and kindles it with that imagined future of nationalistic glory, an America made great again.
In another time we might have called 'Trumpism' 'Mussolinism'.
We can hope that the international establishment will be honest with themselves and with the United States about the political nature of the man who governs them. We will hope in vain. Theresa May's lukewarm response to her hand-holding friend is only one indication of the unwillingness of the international community to stand up to the man and what he represents.
From absurd press conferences to his deranged responses to those who seek to challenge him, it is clear that any attempt to change President Trump will prove futile. Yet, much as I'm sure he'd be sorry to hear it, Donald Trump is not the biggest threat we face. So long as American constitutionalism holds, he may well be gone in three years. The bigger threat is the movement that he has inspired, not just the neo - Nazis who marched at Charlottesville, but all those who advocate his fascistic vision of the future. Trump may go, but the Bannons of the world will remain, and it is them whom we must challenge in every way. The counter protestors at Charlottesville are to be applauded. They showed the world that it is possible to stand up against the acolytes of destruction, even if world leaders refuse to. We must all be willing, and prepared, to do the same.Suggest a correction