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Free Thinking: Time to Choose a Side

“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

-J.K. Rowling

 Donald Trump is evil. The Confederate flag is a symbol of evil, no better than the Nazi swastika. Saying these things will likely make some people angry. I do not care.

We have long passed the point at which there could be any doubt, and the point at which neutrality is a viable option. Names have power, and we must give the proper labels to this man, those who follow him, and their symbols.

Trump and his ilk are racists. They are misogynists. They are cruel. They are corrupt. They hate all those who are not like them, all those they perceive as less than they are. Just as important, those who continue to support them or search for a neutral corner are no better.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu said. “If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Tutu understood. He spent much of his life fighting to end apartheid, as those with the power to end it swiftly, like the leaders of the United States, remained neutral and used words like “constructive engagement” to explain their unwillingness to stand up for good against evil.

This weekend, white supremacists, emboldened by Trump, showed their true colors. Like Dylann Roof, they flew the Confederate flag alongside the swastika. One of their leaders, David Duke, an unabashed racist, said “We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.”

They called for hate. They advocated violence. One of their own drove a car into a crowd of those brave enough to stand and speak out against them. He took the life of Heather Heyer, who should be forever remembered as a hero. The last words Heyer wrote on her Facebook wall were “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

How did Trump respond? He lacked the courage to admit what he is, but he would not take the side of good. He spoke of “many sides.” He remained neutral. Any doubt of that should be eliminated by the response of the white supremacists to his words. That response appeared on a neo-Nazi website called the Daily Stormer, to which we will not link.

“Trump comments were good,” the response said. “He said he loves us all. No condemnation at all.”

Even members of Trump’s own party spoke against him. “”Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” said Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican whose brother died fighting the Nazis and the cause of white supremacism in World War II, said “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

Trump’s neutral phrases were no accident. Hatch and Gardner and many more rebuked him using Twitter, his favorite means of communication. Trump had every opportunity to stand against evil. He refused, because he is evil.

There are times when political disagreements are small, when there is room for respect on both sides. With Trump, that time has passed. Too many of us sat idle, allowing his rise to power. Continuing to do so is dangerous beyond sanity.

Not every person who cast a vote for Trump, or supported his policies, is an evil person. Those, however, who will not oppose him now, are no better than he.  This is a time for plain speech. This is the time to call evil by its name.

 “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

-Edmund Burke


Free Thinking is a column by Allen Wallace. Opinions expressed here are his, and do not necessarily reflect anyone else’s.

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