by Jason Frerichs
The election of Donald Trump has inspired “safe spaces” for Nazis all over the United States. On August 12th, 2017, we are seeing Nazis throwing canisters of tear gas into crowds of peaceful counter protesters. Black Lives Matter protesters have been forced to deal with police in full riot gear when they organize a peaceful protest. These “Unite the Right” organizations have threatened violence if Trump is removed from the Oval Office. Why on earth would the police not take these threats of violence seriously and not be prepared? We are only 8 months in the Trump presidency and we are already on the verge of nuclear war and Nazis are running the streets.
There are now reports that a car ran into protesters at a rally in Charlottesville. At the time this article was written, there are reports of at least ten serious injuries. There is a report of at least one fatality due to a Nazi driving a car into protesters. Scenes of Nazis carrying torches on the University of Virginia campus are reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
The election of Trump has caused a spike in hate crimes that were inspired by the White House occupier. One of the first recorded incidents happened in August 2015 when two Nazis beat a homeless Mexican immigrant with a metal pipe, urinated on him, and called him a “wetback” for good measure. After their arrest, Scott Leader told arresting officers, “Donald Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported.” Trump’s response was that “the people who are following me are very passionate.”
In Cedar Rapids, IA, Trump called for his supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters. He added, “I promise you, I will pay your legal fees.” The leader of Action Iowa Elizabeth Dinschel was in attendance and issued this statement to PVI, “We saw a man with a swastika on his arm outside of the Trump Rally. We took a picture of him. Then we saw him on the Vox video reporting about the media. He said he was a convicted felon and could not vote. When nonvoters go to rallies they are not campaign rallies, they are Nazi rallies.”
Progressive Voices of Iowa editor Lindsey Ellickson attended the Cedar Rapids Trump rally and issued the following statement, “So, this rally was our second in person and the first time we had a physical confrontation. Shortly after Trump started speaking and the crowd quieted down, Elizabeth and Mark blew their whistles non-stop to disrupt the rally, and several of us tore up our rally signs. We stood until the police came to escort us out; honestly, we couldn’t just walk out anyway with the setup. While we were in the crowd Trump supporters screamed at us, called us “freaks” and chanted “USA” when we were headed up the stairs in the police/secret service escort I felt someone hit me -I, unfortunately, wasn’t looking at the person and when I looked back Elizabeth had said someone had hit her. We told the woman who had hit us that she was not allowed to do that, and she screamed repeatedly while wagging her finger at us that “Jesus still loved us”. When we exited Elizabeth told the cops a woman hit her and a man hit her (you can see the man shove her in several videos) and he ignored her completely.”
A protester at a rally in Fayetteville, NC was sucker-punched as he was being led away by police. Trump reportedly offered to pay that man’s legal fees as well. The local sheriff called the sucker-punch a “cowardly act.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking incidents of hate violence, intimidation, and harassment that could be directly linked to Trump. In the first ten days after the 2016 election, the SPLC documented 867 hate incidents, some of which were charged as hate crimes. After Trump’s 2015 speech that called for a ban on Muslims entering the US, the FBI reported a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims.
According to SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok, “Incidents were reported in nearly every state. The largest portion (323 incidents) occurred on university campuses or in K-12 schools. The incidents were dominated by anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim incidents (together, 329), but included ones that were anti-black (187), anti-Semitic (100), anti-LGBT (95), anti-woman (40) and white nationalist (32). A small sliver of them (23) were anti-Trump, but the vast majority appeared to be celebrating his election victory.”
On August 12th, 2017, Trump has condemned hatred on “many sides” but that is a false equivalency. Only one side (Nazis) ran a car into a group of protesters, killing at least one. Only one side threw canisters of tear gas into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters. Trump continues to refuse to call these acts what they are. They are acts of terrorism designed to intimidate and harass people who don’t share their views. Trump knows he cannot call out the Nazis and KKK members without alienating his base. The truth is that if you support Donald Trump, you support racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia.
State Rep Liz Bennett issued the following statement on her Facebook page. “There is no equivalence between Neo-Nazis and people standing for justice, equity, and survival for their fellow citizens. Conferring legitimacy on domestic terrorists by setting their “side” as equal to protesters is an act of complicity with white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and all who seek to deprive their fellow Americans of basic dignity and freedom.”
Let me be very clear on one point. I’ve read a lot of quotes saying that this isn’t a “normal presidency.” On the contrary, it absolutely is. Donald Trump is what it means to be a conservative Republican. These issues were always hiding under the surface. Trump just brought them to the fore front. Instead of using coded language, he comes right out and calls Mexicans “murderers and rapists.” The Republican Party is a party of white supremacy no matter how many props like Ben Carson, Sheriff Clarke, or Herman Cain they bring out. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
I will leave you with a quote that State Rep Ako Abdul-Samad sent to me in a text message. “It is sad that we must continue to address racism and the other Ism’s that keep us apart as human beings. That prevents us from learning and sharing cultural experiences that can bring about understanding of our differences. The struggle is real and every day we see it as we see in Charlottesville, VA the importance of standing for what matters. Peace and love.”
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus