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William Rivers Pitt | Coward-in-Chief: Trump Wilts in the Face of Fascist Terrorism

Maybe Appomattox was merely an appetizer.

A man tends a makeshift candlelight vigil for those who died and were injured when a car plowed into a crowd of anti-fascist counter-demonstrators marching near a downtown shopping area August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Here is the car, stopped along Monticello Avenue in Charlottesville, Virginia. It has clearly been involved in a high-speed incident. Video shows this same car — allegedly driven by one James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio — plowing into a crowd of peaceful anti-fascist protesters at high speed. When it reversed to escape, the damaged fender swung wide, and a shoe clearly bounced out of the grille. The roar of the engine fades, leaving in its wake screams and curses.

According to everything we have heard from the federal government about vehicles being used as weapons worldwide, everything we have heard from the White House and Homeland Security on the issue, everything we have heard in the news media after London and Paris, this was an ISIS-style terrorist attack deliberately perpetrated against a crowd of innocent people to lethal effect.

This was terrorism. By the book. Someone should probably tell the president. He doesn’t seem to get it.

The short version: A well-organized pack of white supremacists, Nazis, Klan members and generalized fascists tried to hold a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, ostensibly to protest the removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Large numbers showed up, greeted not only by law enforcement and angry locals, but by a sizeable contingent of anti-fascist activists who came prepared to shout them down.

A number of those counter-demonstrators, resisting the fascists in various locations, gathered on a side street to march. They had scarcely begun when a gray Dodge Charger snarled into the crowd at high speed, sending bodies flying and blood spraying. The Charger immediately reversed and fled, flapping its damaged bumper. As of this writing, one person is dead and 35 are injured. Two state police officers were killed in a helicopter accident near the rally. Officials said the helicopter was monitoring the rally. The name of the protester killed in the attack is Heather Heyer. She was 32 years old. The driver of the attacking car is under arrest and faces second-degree murder charges.

Fascists have committed terrorism and murder in a Virginia city. In celebration of the event, former KKK leader David Duke proclaimed,

This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.

In response to this paradigm-shifting act of right-wing terrorist violence committed by those among us who think World War II ended the wrong way, the president of the United States had this to say. I transcribed his remarks by hand as he gave them, quite simply because I could not believe what I was hearing:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, it’s been going on for a long, long time.

“Many sides, many sides,” and thus the coward-in-chief again finds himself unable to denounce right-wing violence in the nation he allegedly leads. With Bannon, Miller and Gorka daily fogging his follicles with their fetid fascist breath, one can imagine how difficult it must be to collect a hate-free thought … and I’m not going to even try and explain the Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama bit. It’s just too weird.

No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first.

No matter how much blood was lost under the wheels of that attacking automobile in Charlottesville, no matter how many bones were crushed or organs damaged, no matter who died, we must adhere to a slogan beloved by Nazis for three generations running. The president said so, on national television.

We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we’re proud of our country, we’re proud of who we are.

Instead, let’s proclaim: We love each other, we love not being forced to love anyone’s God, we love the fact that we are free to burn our flag in an act of conscientious protest, we are ashamed of what our country has become and labor mightily to rectify its catastrophic course, and we are proud to say that Donald Trump and his curious new friends are not who we are. The fact that Trump doesn’t need a Teleprompter to be an effective neo-Nazi on TV does not make him a leader, and he proved that in the aftermath of Charlottesville with such vim and vigor that you’d think he was trying to win a bet.

On the night Donald Trump won the White House, I named him for what he is: A fascist. On Saturday, fascists declared open war against the rest of us, and for all intents and purposes, the president sided with them. Maybe Appomattox was merely a preamble, an overture. These people mean business, and they have friends in the White House. I fear a Rubicon was crossed in Charlottesville, and flat mayhem awaits on the new bank of that old, bloody river.

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