The Charlottesville Speech the President Needs to Deliver

During demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday (Aug. 12), the driver of a car plowed into a crowd of people, killing at least one and injuring more than a dozen. In the aftermath of this event, this is the speech the President of the United States needs to deliver Sunday morning.

Good morning, fellow Americans.

Our hearts go out today to the victims of yesterday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and their loved ones. This was, plain and simple, domestic terrorism, and justice will come to the terrorists who spilled the blood of American people today.

It is ironic that this act of terrorism took place in Charlottesville, the hometown of the man who firmly established that this nation was founded on the principle that all men are created equal … who helped start a revolution against the kind of oppression that feels one man, one race, one creed is superior to another … that quashes free expression of ideas.

One of the core values of this nation is that we are free to our beliefs and we are free to express them – no matter how popular or unpopular, how loved or loathsome those beliefs may be – as long as that expression does not infringe upon the inalienable rights of others.

The violence in Virginia began as demonstrations of diametrically opposed beliefs and ideals. Both sides have the right to peaceably assemble, to express those ideals. Efforts by either side, or by any government agent, to suppress that expression is wrong.

But let me be very clear about this: While neo-Nazis and white supremacists have the right to peaceably assemble, to express themselves, to believe what they believe … what they believe is the antithesis of the core values that founded this country.

The idea that one race is superior to another is directly opposed to core American values – to the idea that all men are created equal. It may be your right to believe they are not, but you cannot be a white supremacist and be a patriotic American; the two are mutually exclusive. And while you have the right to express those beliefs, the first amendment does not protect you from the being ignored, disdained or ostracized for them. It only protects you from being arrested for them.

Nazism represents the darkest, most evil part of humankind. It is the opposite of everything Americans stand for. Again, it might be your right to be one, but you cannot be a neo-Nazi and be a patriotic American; these are also mutually exclusive. And while you have the right to express your beliefs in the ideology responsible for the deaths of millions of people, do not be surprised if good Americans rightfully condemn you for them. Again, the first amendment only protects you from being arrested for them.

I know that many have seen my positions on immigration and “America First” as a sign that this administration is sympathetic to white supremacy and neo-Nazism. That would be a mistake. We are not, and we strongly condemn any belief, much less any action based on the idea, that any person is “inferior” because of race, religion, ethnicity or political persuasion.

Bigotry against and hatred of any fellow American – of any race, of any religion, of any gender — has no place in the Trump administration, and no place in an America that believes itself to be “first” among nations.

Our nation was founded on an idea: that all people are created equal. It was founded as a haven for those who shared that belief … as a sanctuary for people – regardless of their faith, their skin color, their national origin – who wanted to be free from the tyranny of ethnic, political or religious prejudice. That value isn’t going to change under my watch. And if you don’t agree with it, then maybe you’re the one who doesn’t belong in the United States of America.

 

 

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