August 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm EDT | by Richard J. Rosendall
Recovering after Charlottesville
Charlottesville, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. protesters rallied in support of Charlottesville after a woman was killed there counter-protesting the Klan and Neo-Nazis.(Washington Blade photo by Helen Parshall)

Jamil Smith of The Daily Beast tweeted on August 16, “All these folks worried about erasing history when the Confederate statues come down will be thrilled to learn about the existence of books.”

Battles over monuments to treason may be symbolic, but symbols can promote violence as well as virtue, and clashes over what merits public commemoration are stand-ins for an old struggle over whom our public institutions are supposed to serve.

The aftermath of Charlottesville included ACLU’s announcement that it will cease defending hate speech accompanied by firearms; the fortitude of the parents of Heather Heyer, who was murdered with a car; and testimony by DeAndre Harris, whose beating by racists with metal poles caused wounds including a skull fracture that required eight staples. Neo-Nazis continued to defame Heyer and threaten Harris; web hosting firms banned The Daily Stormer. Heartening developments included the president’s entire arts advisory panel resigning; a huge counter-protest in Boston; and white nationalist Steve Bannon being booted from the White House.

Still defiling the Oval Office is our Birther-in-Chief, who refuses to call domestic terrorism by its name. He will not repudiate the white-grievance mongering he rode to power, much less check his spiteful outbursts or his lifelong contempt for people of color. Hang your head, John Kelly.

Trump sees no disparity when, as Tina Fey noted, Native Americans are shot with rubber bullets for protesting at Standing Rock while Nazis freely march with semiautomatics in Virginia. By the way, is it just me, or is there something slightly off about anti-Semites adopting a preppy polo-and-khakis look popularized by Jewish clothiers?

The midterm elections are less than fifteen months away. Do the Democrats look ready? The people they need to win over are not Obama haters, but Obama voters who supported Trump. Obama, whose stature only grows, spoke to the best in us. He did so when we needed it most, after horrors that included the murder of schoolchildren and a massacre in a church. He soared at his second inaugural: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall….”

Inspiring words are not enough, but are vital. We must inspire people to consider the consequences of inaction and recognize the possibilities of cooperative effort. We will not inspire them to exercise their voting franchise by endlessly re-litigating the last election.

Pragmatism and principle are competing forces, not enemies. We need both if we are to practice the politics of addition required to win. We also need respect and patience. Being receptive to contrasting views requires grace unfamiliar in our War Room political culture. But willingness to learn is a key quality to distinguish us from Mr. Trump.

Our nation is beset by provocateurs, opportunists, and hate peddlers much more from the right than from the left, despite rampant moral equivalency. We must be ready to combat the lies of people like Jack Posobiec (who pushed the Pizzagate and Seth Rich hoaxes) and Dinesh D’Souza (who erases considerable history to portray Democrats as still the party of segregation), but we must avoid playing a purely defensive game. Anger may fuel our activism, but empathy should steer it.

Ms. Fey, a University of Virginia grad, gave a lacerating commentary about Charlottesville on “Weekend Update Summer Edition” while gorging on a sheet cake. Humorous venting, however, is no more a political plan than vandalizing statues. Disputes over public memorials will continue (my Civil War favorite is the one by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Boston). But we must also look ahead. Attracting voters requires a theme and purpose that animate otherwise dry policy proposals.

Far-right fanatics and their collaborator in the White House are handing us plenty of ammunition to use against them. But if we fight on their terms and their schedule, we lose. Upholding American values that are under assault demands an assertive, confident message that connects at a human level, not just “a better deal.” Let’s be about it, telling the truth and shaming the devil.


Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at

Copyright © 2017 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

  • It’s a new world. Worry about people who really kill (Muslims). Not people who march with torches to put on a show.

  • Update: Trump claims a crowd of 15,000 for his rally in Arizona. It looked more like 500 people. Did each one have 30 personalities? OMG, get them healthcare!

    • That would be 500 Antifa/BLM after 15,000 protesters were expected and the one who got blasted in the balls will be laughed at forever!

      • Cherry picking facts and outright falsehoods, including posting photos of the crowds at a 2016 parade for the Cleveland Cavaliers as if it was from yesterday in Phoenix, is the sort of thing one has to do when defending a treasonous, insane thug.

        • Rick I watched live streams well before the rally started and saw the huge crowd inside the venue as well as the few protesters outside. I have no idea about the garbage you are spewing nor do I care.

          • There were nothing close to 15,000 people. That was a lie. His supporters did in fact post photos of an event in Cleveland claiming that they were of the Phoenix event. That you do not care is quite evident.

          • Rick I watched the live stream cameras pan around the space numerous times. The space was packed. What I don’t give a damn about are “writers and activists” with an agenda. What I love is the video of the protester kicking the tear gas then getting shot in the balls.

          • It was not close to 15,000 people. The space did not have that capacity. As he rambled on, the crowd thinned. But the ridiculous photos from a far larger event in Cleveland showed the brazen disregard for the truth by Trump’s mob, a particular irony given his constant braying about fake news. He is the king of fake news. He lies compulsively.

          • From what I have read this afternoon the space had a capacity of 19,000. As for that Cleveland pic only a fool would not have seen it as a joke.

          • Yes, that falsehood is being pushed. As for the joke, every time Trump and his gang is caught in a lie they claim it was a joke. They’re real comedians.

          • The room the rally was in was not the entire convention center.

          • You think I don’t know that? I give up.

          • The capacity of the entire building is not relevant.

          • Wish I could post the panorama picture taken from behind the press at the rally. It would shut you up!

          • I’ve seen a panorama pic. Numbers aside, the man is terminally self-absorbed, ignorant, reckless, vindictive, and deranged. But now I’m watching his speech today before the American Legion, and he read from a teleprompter so it was rational. As someone has noted, his teleprompter speeches feel like hostage videos.

          • So all those adjectives strung together perfectly captured Obama! We as a nation and the world can be grateful Obama is gone and Hillary Clinton is not the President! Sorry you are so miserable.

          • Seriously? After the past seven months you are willing to deny Trump’s staggering faults and deny due credit to Obama? To be that delusional requires serious whistling past the graveyard. Trump is doing damage in every direction, and open warfare is breaking out within his party. If that is worth cheering to you, I am not the one who is miserable. Trump inherited a thriving economy, and thinks he created it. Now he threatens to damage the economy with a government shutdown over his absurd wall. If posturing and scoffing change the facts, then take your trophy. They don’t. Trump will be lucky to last out the year.

          • Rick you live in an alternate universe. I cannot imagine how anyone can live in the USA and think like you do.

          • There is extensive evidence, much of it surely known to you, for the accuracy of the list of adjectives I applied to Mr. Trump. You plainly just do not care, and have decided to brazen it out as he does. But you perform one service: you illustrate for my readers the level of aggressive denial we are contending with.

          • No one in my family, no one in my circle of friends and not one of my international acquaintances agrees with you. I am very curious where you obtain your news? Is it MSNBC? CNN? NYT? WAPO? HUFFPO? Mother Jones? Maxine Waters? I don’t have cable so don’t even think of accusing me of watching Fox News.

          • You appear to inhabit an echo chamber. I do follow some of those outlets, as well as The Economist (a Tory newspaper) and WSJ. What do you follow, InfoWars and Fox News? Ah, but even some folks at Fox are speaking critically of Trump. Perhaps you are safely sticking to Hannity and Pirro. Increasingly, I am finding myself agreeing with conservatives like George Will. (Cue a cheap Trumpian putdown.) I’m not sure what you think you are accomplishing with your eye-stretching nonsense. I mean come on, you must have noticed that Obama is sane, stable, smart, and decent, while Trump is none of those things. But go ahead and wave your dick around some more. Incidentally, if I keep responding to you, will you keep this up until you die or I give you the last word? Actually, your friend 45 (actually nobody’s friend) may give us Armageddon first. Which would be fine with his base, it appears.

          • Your level of aggressive denial over the Muslim terrorist attacks and murderous homophobia is what the civilized world is contending with. Your bloodlust must be getting hungrier because there can be no other conclusion but that you WANT more Pulse massacres and are highly disappointed the plot to bomb gay San rancisco bars was just foiled. You’re also envious of the new Dachau set up by Chechen Muslims. AND…envious of course of the Manchester and Barcelona attacks. It’s telling that the Washington Blade even allows you to spout such venemous hopes.

          • Well wasn’t that a bizarre comment. Bloodlust? Backing slowly away….

  • Update 2: When Trump pardons Sheriff Arpaio, as appears likely, he will put wind in the sails of every thuggish, racist cop out there. It will be a destructive, despicable act beyond words. Dear God, call him home before he does this. He’s not just crazy. He’s evil.

    • Nonsense. Utter nonsense. Sheriff Arpaio was simply enforcing existing federal immigration laws something President Obama refused to do.

      • He violated a court order. The details do not support your claim.

        • Sorry a federal judge is not the last word but a Presidential Pardon is.

          • Arpaio has a well established record as a racist. He was duly convicted for violating a judge’s order. Trump is setting aside the normal process for considering a pardon, tgereby leapfrogging Arpaio over thousands of people. Why? For purely political reasons, to appeal to Trump’s racist and xenophobic base. For you to treat that so lightly suggests you have as little respect for our norms and checks and balances as Trump. And such a pardon will give a green light to abusive police all over. It is wicked.

          • My God where do you get all this nonsense? By the way Mexican is not a race. Hispanic is not a race. Latino is not a race. President Obama refused to enforce our existing immigration laws and even used EO’s to make new laws. Was that OK with you? Of course it was.

          • Again with the dishonesty. Latinos are routinely classified as people of color. I am well aware that that is a broad generalization and that there are caucasian Mexicans; but Trump started his campaign talking about Mexicans in an overgeneralized, prejudicial, over-the-top racist manner. The fact is that immigrants have a lower crime rate. Second, border patrol and deportations were strong under Obama. He was reluctant to use EOs and only did so after Congress refused to act.

          • They are color when victims but white when criminals since Obama came in.
            If 2 Colombian drug lords shot each other the survivor would be white

          • He was ordered to only arrest as many MS-13 facial tattooed bangers as he arrested illegally entering Canadians

    • Bellevue is calling.

  • None of this would have happen if people saw Trump for what he is. It was so easy to see through him, yet so many even some LGBTQ could not focus.

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