“Don’t make our commander in chief a villain…”
By Jack Davis
The deluge of liberal invective connecting President Donald Trump with the death of a woman protesting a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend has it “absolutely wrong,” a black minister said Monday. Rev. Derek McCoy, executive vice president for the Center of Urban Renewal and Education, was among clergy who said claims by liberals and mainstream media that Trump has fostered a spirit of racism miss the point entirely.
“One thing you need to understand: You are saying that the president is the instigator, and I think that is absolutely wrong. No, it is not disingenuous,” McCoy said.
“The president made his comments and we are not standing up here to say that we are best friends with everything the president does, but he is in an office that we all respect,” he added. “If we are looking about how we can move our country forward, we are trying to make sure that we do that collectively together.”
Some of those who gathered with McCoy at a National Press Club event said the problem is not the president but the media. “Don’t make our commander in chief a villain when in actuality it is more the villainess (sic) of the media in terms of making something where nothing is,” political activist Corrogan Vaughn said.
Activist Star Parker, who founded CURE, said Trump’s initial statement condemning violence on both ends of the political spectrum was on target. “I would like for us to finally address the ‘alt-right’ and the ‘alt-left’ — the instigators that continue this discussion that racism is so inherent in our society that they are going to look for it endlessly to then spark the tensions of the ‘alt-right.’ The ‘alt-right’ was sent underground. They have been emboldened because of the ‘alt-left,’ he said.”
“We are either going to be biblical and free or we are going to be secular in status. That is the cultural war. There is no need in us denying that we are … in one,” Parker said. “It has been intensifying over time and now it is coming to a culmination that can drag each and every one of us into another civil war. We don’t want that, and the clergy will stand up and support the president in his effort to make sure that we have this discussion and we have it civilly.”
Some speakers said efforts to stifle free speech have come back to haunt America. “We are saying, ‘You can only have one thought process and that is the only thing that can be allowed within the spectrum of our country.’ I think that is wrong,” McCoy said. “So you do have this ‘alt-left,’ ‘alt-right’ and these factions in society that are happening. But you gotta understand, debate is being shut down and debate is something that has always been one of the foundational principles of America, where we can foster, flourish and grow together and learn from each other.”
William Allen, a professor of political philosophy at Michigan State University, said the factors at work behind the violence had nothing to do with Trump. “I will say this about the repeated ascription of President Trump as the driver of hateful speech in our country: There are two things wrong with that view. The first thing wrong with it is we are pretending to hide behind blaming President Trump for our failures,” he said.
Instead, he said, efforts to suppress unwelcome speech have increased. He noted the contrast between 2017 and 1977, when the American Civil Liberties Union defended the right of Nazi supporters to march through the heavily Jewish community of Skokie, Illinois.
“We are no longer celebrating the ‘Skokie principle’ in our country,” Allen said. “We stopped celebrating the ‘Skokie principle’ long before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency.”
“If we have a problem, the problem is that we have lost our way. We have people that are wandering in the desert … who have lost their way,” Allen said. “It is not going to do you much good to blame Moses. You gotta ask: Why have the people lost their way, where did they lose their faith and how can it be restored?”