This is a time to draw clear lines of distinction: You are either with the neo-Nazis, new-fascists, neo-Confederates, and Donald Trump’s alt-right circus, or you are against them.
Donald Trump is equivocating, suggesting that there is some kind of moral equivalence between racists and those who oppose racists. For this, the president should be impeached and removed from office.
But it is not enough to condemn Trump—nor even to call for an accountability moment.
The president has exposed and confirmed the crisis facing the United States. This country has, for too long, accepted the symbols of racism in our town squares, accepted the presence of racists in high office, accepted the spread of racism by extremist groups.
Now it is time for getting specific about what must be done. And the Congressional Progressive Caucus has begun the process—not just for its members, not just for the Democratic Party, but for all Americans who believe this country must, as Hubert Humphrey proposed 70 years ago, “get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”
In a statement released as Trump was busy making excuses for the racists who have displayed so much enthusiasm for his presidency, CPC co-chairs Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, and Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, said following the violent attacks perpetrated by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia:
Today, Americans of color and immigrant and religious minority communities are grappling with the fact that white supremacists—inspired by President Trump’s racially-charged words and policies—feel empowered to openly march and commit acts of violence in broad daylight,
Grijalva and Pocan called Trump out for his “appalling and shameful reluctance to name the groups involved in the attacks” until days after the murder of Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer—declaring, “Mr. President, it shouldn’t take you two days to build up the courage to condemn violent neo-Nazis and the KKK.”
“This violent outburst is far from an isolated incident and is intricately connected to the President’s discriminatory agenda, which includes construction of the border wall, the Muslim Ban, mass deportations, and the open demonization of urban communities,” said the congressmen, who then took the debate to the next and necessary level.
They made demands not just on Trump but in the leaders of Trump’s party:
1. “President Trump must demonstrate his opposition to white supremacy by immediately firing the white supremacists currently working in the White House, including Stephen Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and Stephen Miller.”
2. “Further, we call on Speaker Ryan and House Republicans to demonstrate their opposition to white supremacy by finally removing Confederate statues and imagery from the U.S. Capitol.”
3. “Finally, the Department of Homeland Security should reopen the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division and issue an updated report on the threat posed by domestic right-wing extremists.”
That’s an excellent point of beginning for a country that must finally “walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”