Democracy Dies in Darkness

PostPartisan | Opinion

These are your people, President Trump

By Colbert I. King

August 12, 2017 at 7:55 PM

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White nationalists were met by counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, leading Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state emergency. A car plowed into crowds, killing one person and injuring 19 others. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

President Trump’s mealy-mouthed mutterings on the terrorism let loose in Charlottesville on Saturday are worthy of the hypocrite and instigator of hate that he has proved himself to be. Trump knows what was at work on those streets and who was behind it. As well he should. They are some of the same forces that helped to put him in the White House.

On hand giving the clan of white nationalists a verbal boost was former Ku Klux Klan leader and preeminent white nationalist David Duke. Just as the bigoted Duke was on hand on election night exclaiming on social media that Trump’s victory was “one of the most exciting nights of my life.” Duke tweeted at the time, “Make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump.”

And Duke’s people — Trump’s people, also — were out in force in Charlottesville with their hate-filled minds, their guns, and a weaponized automobile.

That was your crowd down there in Old Virginia, Donald Trump.

They were speaking your language, vomiting your sentiments, acting out what animates you from within.

Don’t act as though you don’t know them. They believe and expect you are working to “take back America” for them, because you are of them, just as just they know — as do you — that they gave their all for you.

So why are any of us the least bit surprised that Trump’s devoted clan of white nationalists would be so emboldened as to brazenly emulate their klan forbears and take it to the streets? One of their own reached the White House, with their help. It’s enough to make an old Confederate proud, and a present-day white nationalist as arrogant, reckless and dangerous as can be.

A white nationalist and a counterprotester face off. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
A member of The Militia tries to separate white nationalists and counterprotesters. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Counterprotesters shout during the Unite the Right rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
A group calling itself The Militia arrives to keep the peace outside the rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
White nationalists rally at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Ben, a 21-year-old Ku Klux Klan member from Harrison, Ark., attends the rally at Emancipation Park. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Counterprotesters from the Unitarian Universalists congregation link arms during the Unite the Right rally. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
White nationalist groups rally at Emancipation Park. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
White nationalists gather at Emancipation Park for the Unite the Right rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Cornel West hugs a counterprotesters outside Emancipation Park during the rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
A rally participant blares a horn at counterprotesters. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
Black Lives Matter counterprotestors shout during the rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Clashes begin at the Unite the Right rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
White nationalists stand behind shields during the rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Counterprotesters and White nationalists clash. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Counterprotesters and white nationalists clash at the Unite the Right rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
White nationalists clash with counterprotesters as they attempt to guard the entrance to Emancipation Park. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A counterprotester uses a lighted spray can against a white nationalist at the entrance to Emancipation Park. (Steve Helber/AP)
Protesters are forced out of Emancipation Park by riot police. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
A woman is injured during the clashes. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
White nationalist groups and counterprotesters during the Unite the Right rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Pepper spray is used on protesters. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Demonstrators skirmish in Charlottesville. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
A demonstrator throws a newspaper box. (Steve Helber/AP)
Black Lives Matter protesters stand in a fog of tear gas during the clashes. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Demonstrators and counterprotesters clash. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
A woman is sprayed with water to wash away pepper spray. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
A man pleads with riot police to "stop defending the Nazis" during the rally. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress)
People are treated after the collision. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
The scene after a car plowed into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers tranport a victim on a stretcher. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into protesters. (Steve Helber/AP)
Kessler looks at his watch while waiting for a crowd of protesters to quiet before beginning a news conference Sunday in front of City Hall. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Protesters use trombones in an attempt to drown out Kesslers news conference. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Kessler holds a news conference outside City Hall. (Andrew Shurtleff/Daily Progress/AP)
Protesters shout anti-Nazi chants after chasing Kessler from the news conference. Kessler, who helped organize the Unite the Right rally one day earlier, blamed Charlottesville government officials and law enforcement for failing to protect the First Amendment rights of the rally's participants, a collection of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and alt-right supporters. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A police escort rushes away Kessler after the news conference was broken up. (Tasos Katopodis/EPA)
Kessler is rushed away after his news conference. (Tasos Katopodis/EPA)
Counterprotesters shout after Kessler fled. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Several hundred people on the campus of the University of Virgina chant White lives matter!, You will not replace us! and Jews will not replace us! (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
White nationalists march along the front of a campus building. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
The torchlit march makes its way through the University of Virginia campus. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Beginning a little after 9:30 p.m., the march lasted 15 to 20 minutes before ending in skirmishing when the marchers were met by a small group of counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the universitys founder. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
White nationalists carry torches while marching. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
The march came on the eve of the Unite the Right rally, a gathering of groups from around the country whose members have said they are being persecuted for being white and that white history in America is being erased. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
University of Virginia campus police keep watch. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
The Saturday rally is being held at noon at Emancipation Park, formerly Lee Park, home to a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that the city of Charlottesville voted to remove earlier this year. The statue remains in the park pending a judges ruling expected later this month. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Men in their 20s and 30s constituted the majority of the participants. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
An officer helps a white nationalist after tear gas was deployed, apparently by a counterprotester. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
A counterprotester reacts to tear gas. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Marchers gather around the Thomas Jefferson statue. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)
Photo Gallery: Tensions rise as white nationalists hold a rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Colbert I. “Colby” King writes a column -- sometimes about D.C., sometimes about politics -- that runs on Saturdays. In 2003, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. King joined the Post’s editorial board in 1990 and served as deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007.

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