*Montell Williams, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who served in the Marine Corps and the Navy before his 1991 to 2008 run as a talk show host, has poured his frustration with the current White House into an essay.
At issue is President Trump’s failure to emphatically denounce the acts of hate that have escalated since his election, most recently, the spike in anti Semitic attacks.
Read Williams’ column below, from USA Today:
Having served almost two decades as a naval officer, I’m hardwired toward deference to the commander-in-chief. But these are unprecedented times. These are times when facts don’t matter, when confidential national security matters are discussed on a dining patio at a ball that could have been an episode of Real Housewives of Palm Beach, and when hate is tossed about haphazardly. I’ve known President Trump for more than 20 years, and prior to his obsession with birtherism, thought well of him — this isn’t personal, this is about what he has said and done. It’s not about him, it’s about his policies.
I’ve had it with Trump’s reluctance to issue a strong condemnation of the recent wave of bigotry in America. I’d hoped that Trump would follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan who famously, on television, made clear that bigots were not welcome in the party of Lincoln. Why couldn’t Trump— who spends every waking hour on Twitter — have shared a link to this powerful speech, under the words “this goes double for me”?
The answer is obvious: Trump is afraid to alienate a wide and rabid portion of his base — the bigots — whom he’s been mobilizing and emboldening for over a decade. With his approval rating at around 40%, Trump simply can’t afford to lose 25% of his base, even if they espouse despicable views. No president in modern times has built a coalition around this group of people. The fact that the first one to do so now sits in the Oval Office is incredibly dangerous.
And no, I was not satisfied by Trump’s so-called “condemnation” of recent anti-Semitic incidents. I found the statement to be ironically tepid given his string of vehement attacks against the likes of Nordstrom, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton and the media. This statement (which clearly wasn’t written by him, judging by its lack of bluster and its proper grammar) assures bigots, if anything, that they’ll receive only a slap on the wrist, and a carefully scripted one at that, during his presidency.
Reading the statement, I decided that I could no longer remain silent in good conscience. For months now, I’ve waited for Trump to condemn the increasingly troubling outbursts of bigotry in America, and the carnival barkers who’ve helped to incite them. When Richard Spencer infamously led a “Heil Trump” cheer that went viral, I’d hoped that Trump — as the father of a Jewish daughter and the grandfather of Jewish grandchildren — would have expressed outrage on part with his outrage toward the media. I’d hoped that he would denounce, once and for all, the congratulatory tweets by David Duke, the modern leader of the KKK, and anyone else who holds bigoted views with the same scorched earth approach he’s applied to his war with the media.
It makes sense that Trump would be reluctant to offer a strong criticism of bigotry. After all, this bigotry is largely a result of the hate that he spent over a year sowing and normalizing during his campaign. As we know from history, normalizing hate towards one minority group (Muslims, in this case) often spills over to other minority groups (now, the Jews). It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of anti-Semites in this country are “equal opportunity bigots.” Trump’s rhetoric and dog whistles throughout his campaign and during this the first month of his presidency have empowered America’s extremists and vindicated their bigotry. With Trump going after the media harder than the Klan, we should brace ourselves for more hate — and for that hate to manifest itself in action.
Finally, where in the hell are Congressional Republicans? Why haven’t they spoken up, loudly, and in large numbers, to clarify what conservatives stand for? Where is the conservative movement? If politicians, especially in party of Lincoln, fear the political cost of condemning bigotry, we’ve already lost everything that makes America exceptional. With a bigot like Milo Yiannopoulos going from a “fellow traveler” of the alt-right to a fellow traveler of the conservative movement (or so went the justification for his now rescinded invitation to speak at CPAC), the very essence of the party of Lincoln is at stake.
Racism, religious bigotry and scapegoating are not issues to be “fellow travelled” with in the name of political expediency. They’re to be condemned with overwhelming force, each and every time they rear their ugly head. History has taught us much about what happens when hate becomes normalized.
Trump voters beware, you own that which you do not condemn.