Charlottesville incident: ‘Donald Trump failed at the simplest of political tests’

“President Trump’s weak pushback to hate groups – as if he was trying not to alienate them as voters – compelled me to take up my pen,” stated David Plunkert, the artist behind the new New Yorker cover.

Written by Nandini Rathi | New Delhi | Updated: August 18, 2017 4:46 pm
trump, KKK, new yorker, economist, time Composite image courtesy The Economist/The New Yorker

Magazine cover arts of the New Yorker and the Economist slammed US President Donald Trump by portraying him as blowing at a KKK mask shaped sail and yelling through a KKK megaphone respectively. This is in light of his weak and equivocal denouncements of the Charlotteville white supremacist rallies which killed one activist protesting racism, Heather Heyer, and injured more when a van suddenly rammed into a crowd of them on Sunday, August 13. The self-identifying ethno-nationalists had marched to Charlottesville to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s great general during the American civil war.

Trump took two days to condemn the KKK and the neo-Nazi groups, which angered Americans aplenty. Under immense pressure from the media, he finally allowed that the hate groups were “repugnant”. However, during an anti-media diatribe in the Tuesday press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, he made a U-turn, claiming that there was “blame on both sides” and appeared to assert moral equivalence between neo-Nazis carrying signs with Swastikas, mouthing racial slurs and the activists protesting against racism. Little wonder then that a lot of Americans feel that Trump’s reel back betrays his enduring soft spot for the white nationalists, in spite of the overt and aggressive racial hate and bigotry they intend to inject into the American community and compromise its unity.

“President Trump’s weak pushback to hate groups – as if he was trying not to alienate them as voters – compelled me to take up my pen,” said David Plunkert, the artist behind the new New Yorker cover who usually does not address political subjects in his work. “A picture does a better job showing my thoughts than words do; it can have a light touch on a subject that’s extremely scary,” he added in a statement to the New Yorker.

The Economist’s recent editorial responded to Trump’s lingering defense of the Confederate statues on Twitter, while he retreated his unequivocal condemnation of the white supremacists’ actions.

 

“Mr Trump’s seemingly heartfelt defense of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view,” it stated. While admitting that Trump himself was not a white supremacist, the piece accused Trump of failing at “the simplest of political tests: finding a way to condemn Nazis” — the reason the US fought the last world war for. The act did earn him the praise of one: David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Trump’s U-turn has also rattled the Republican party and frustrated some White House aides. His Tuesday press conference was meant to showcase White House’s infrastructure plans, which ended up getting buried several feet under his fiery comments about Charlottesville. Many prominent Republican leaders and Trump critics have spoken out against his actions. This included senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and his Primaries rivals, senators Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, to name a few. Former Republican governor of California, Arnold Schwarzeneggar released a video condemning the Nazis in the way that he felt Trump should have. Others like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have been more cautious by speaking out against white supremacy without addressing the President directly. Yet others, such as Vice-President Mike Pence, have chosen to stand by Trump.

@Schwarzenegger has a blunt message for Nazis. pic.twitter.com/HAbnejahtl

 

Meanwhile, the Time magazine has not put Trump on its cover, but instead went for a figure wearing jackboots, with the American flag draped around its shoulder, giving a ‘Heil’ salute.

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