Charlottesville : What responsibility for Trump ?

Charlottesville : What responsibility for Trump ?Temps de lecture estimé : 3 min

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On Saturday August 12, a meeting of neo-nazis and white supremacists was held in Charlottesville, Virginia. Anti-racism demonstrators gathered to protest against this American far-right show of force; a man drove his car into the group, causing the death of a 32 year old female protester and hurting more than 20 people. The FBI launched an investigation and soon designated a murderer: James Field, a 20 year old man with ties to the neo-nazi movement. The police called this act a homicide and mentioned that the act was intentional, however president Trump initially refused to publicly condemn the crime, instead mentioning “violence from both sides” without readily incriminating the racist demonstrators.

What does this tragic event reveal about the treatment of the alt-right’s violence ?

Far-right’s terrorism is a curse in the United States: there are several recent examples, like the shooting in a black church in Charleston by a white supremacist (leaving 9 dead), or the murder of 7 people in a Sikh temple in 2012. Researchers Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer estimated there were 337 attacks by far-right activists leading to 254 casualties in the U.S. since September 11th, 2001*. Meanwhile, islamist terrorism killed around 50 people since that same date. However, many media outlets and politicians tend to focus on islamist attacks to instill a climate of fear around the danger they see in Islam. The acting out by right-wing extremists is actually far more worrying.

Indeed, we can find many small active far-right groups, about a thousand in the entire US. Racist violence has reached a frightening level with a 584% increase in islamophobic crimes between 2014 and 2016, according to the CAIR (Council for American-Islamic Relations), an NGO defending Muslims’ civil rights in the United States. This rise can be partially explained by the trivialization of anti-islam positions like the one held by the Republican candidate during his campaign, and applied (with the #MuslimBan) once in power.

Add to that the ambiguous position held by the Trump administration toward far-right terrorism. Last August 5th, the Islamic center Dar Al Farooq, Minnesota, was the target of a bombing, qualified as a terrorist attack by Mark Dayton, the Minnesota governor. Nonetheless, president Trump remained mute on the subject – while tweeting recklessly on every subject. One of his advisors, Sebastian Gorka, even suggested that the act was the result of a manipulation from left-wing militants.

With the recent Charlottesville event, it took 48 hours for the president to give a clear statement, hinting to a possible complacency toward those who actively supported his campaign. He finally provided those words on August 14th, after an outcry from his own political party:  “Racism is Evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and brutes, including the KKK, Neo-nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” A declaration which would go without saying for any political leader, but which had been long-awaited because of the  previous positions and actions of the president, and of those around him with a dubious past. A declaration which was also quickly made unclear when Trump parallely mentioned alt-right and alt-left violence, although the murderer is undoubtedly a neo-nazi.

As long as we do not condemn with equal intensity a racist attack and an islamist attack, we will fuel extremist movements in their hate projects. The image of a white murderer qualified as an unstable person, but immediately designated as a terrorist when his beard is too long, must be removed from the media landscape. Although it all seems obvious with our hindsight, it is almost impossible within the mainstream media’s obsession toward Islam, widely shared in Europe. The first step, if we want to combat this violence, is to condemn – with the same strength – all murderers, regardless of their ideology. It is also to stop any ambiguity that might feed bitterness, fuel fantasies and yield evermore violence.

Read the original french article, written by Ménélas Kosadinos, here :

Lucile Jourde Moalic