If you missed it yesterday, it’s worth checking out the transcript of the interview with Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer on CBS’s Face the Nation yesterday. When asked by reporter John Dickerson for his response to Donald Trump’s take on the weekend violence, the mayor said this:
“You know, I don’t want to make this too much about Donald Trump, we have a lot of grieving, a lot of work to do as a– as a city and as a country, but he should look in the mirror. I mean, he made a choice in his presidential campaign, the folks around with him, to, you know, go right to the gutter, to play on our worst prejudices. And I think you are seeing a direct line from what happened here this weekend to those choices. He has the opportunity, as do we all, to have a fresh beginning.
Like I’ve said, our democracy has been through much worse than this, but that requires us to rise to the occasion. We’re going to do that work here — we’re going to work on civility and– listening, deliberation, first amendment, religious toleration, pluralism. I mean, those are ideas– are what got us here now. But, you know, we’ve just seen this– this– tide of coarseness, cynicism, bullying, and– you know, a festival of going to the absolute worst elements that previously have been hidden. Now they’ve been invited out into the daylight. I mean a lot of people were coming here this weekend saying this will be a shot heard ’round the world, this will be the Alt-right’s moment, this will be Alt-right 2.0. You know, all that kind of rhetoric. And I think they were– they’re getting– you know, they’re getting okays for that, because they were invited into basically a– a presidential campaign. That has to stop, and it can stop now.
What I did not hear in the president’s statement yesterday, as well-intentioned as it may have been, is I didn’t hear the words ‘white supremacy’. And I think that it’s important to call this for what it is and to say, okay, this– this show has run its course, this shark has been jumped, let’s– let’s move on.”
Meanwhile, for sobering, but terrifically thoughtful assessment of the disaster, be sure to check out national columnist Charles P. Pierce at Esquire. As Pierce notes in “This is the bleakest moment for America in my lifetime,” “anyone who followed the presidential campaign saw this coming.” After noting the absurdity of proposals like the ones seriously debated in several states including North Carolina this year to give a pass to some drivers who run into protesters in public streets, Pierce says this:
“Essentially, the statutes would create a protected class of vigilante motorists empowered to curtail free assembly with 4,000 pounds of mobile iron. This became an acceptable solution almost exclusively among Republican politicians.
So when anybody, especially the president*, talks about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, from the Citronella Putsch on Friday night, to the violence on Saturday morning, to the graphic fulfillment of the philosophy behind these lunatic laws on Saturday afternoon, tells you that what happened in Virginia has anything to do with ‘polarization,’ or that it is a problem equally shared by Both Sides, that person is trying preemptively to pick history’s pockets.
Every Republican who ever spoke to, or was honored by, the Council of Conservative Citizens and/or the League of the South owns this bloodshed.
Every Republican administration that ever went out of its way to hire Pat Buchanan, and every TV executive who ever cut him a check, and every Republican who voted for him in 1992, and everyone who ever has pretended his views differed substantially from the ones in the streets this weekend, owns this bloodshed.
Every Republican president—actually, there’s only one—who began a campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to talk about states rights, and who sent his attorney general into court to fight for tax exemptions for segregated academies, owns this bloodshed.
Every Republican politician who followed the late Lee Atwater into the woods in search of poisoned treasure owns this bloodshed.
Every conservative journalist who saw this happening and who encouraged it, or ignored it, or pretended that it wasn’t happening, owns this bloodshed.
The modern conservative movement—born of the Goldwater campaign, nurtured by millions of dollars from corporations and rightwing sugar daddies, sold day after day on millions of radios and on its own TV network—shoved the Republican Party right where it was dying to go anyway. These were institutions whose job it was to isolate this encroaching dementia from afflicting our politics in general.
Last November, we saw the culmination of four decades of the Republican Party trying to have it both ways, profiting from the darkest forces in American culture while maintaining a respectable cosmetic distance. On Saturday, we saw the culmination of the election that produced. At least, I’m praying this is the culmination. But I’m not sure about anything anymore.”