Letters

Letters

A divide dyed into the American fabric

Trump is the wrong person to lead us through the turmoil he has created

Re “President again puts blame on ‘both sides,’ ” (Page A1, Aug. 16): It is a sad day for America when its president equates violent neo-Nazis and white supremacists with left-wing protesters, and assigns blame to both sides for the recent tragedy in Charlottesville, Va.

David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, thanked the president for his “honesty” in calling out the leftist “terrorists.” Even at the height of the Vietnam War, no one would have characterized the antiwar protesters as terrorists.

However, in referring to the protesters as the “alt-left,” Trump continued his deplorable practice of demonizing opponents (for example, “lyin’ Ted” and “crooked Hillary” during last year’s presidential campaign). The so-called alt-right chose its own label, but Trump’s use of “alt-left” is intended to pander to his base of supporters.

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It seems clear from public opinion polls that Trump has made little progress toward fulfilling his campaign promise to “Make America Great Again.”

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It seems equally clear that his words (and, at times, his silence) on key social issues and policies have made America hate again — in a way that most Americans find pernicious and hurtful.

Perhaps the silver lining in this cloud is that we now have the opportunity to confront and deal with the age-old problems and injustices that have plagued us since the Civil War. However, we must look to leaders other than Trump to bring us together in meaningful dialogue on these matters.

Alan B. Cohen

Wayland

In their thrall to NRA, Democrats and Republicans alike armed this unrest

President Trump got one thing right, in his first statement, about who’s responsible for the tragedy of Charlottesville. While he may be the most overt enabler of racial violence since Jefferson Davis, he is correct to suggest that several prior presidents and Congresses surely share the blame.

The government’s failure to act decisively following treasonous assaults on our democracy by militias has been a disgraceful failure of Democratic and Republican administrations alike. The appalling sight of camouflaged louts armed to the teeth with automatic weapons “patrolling” the streets of Charlottesville can be directly laid at the doorstep of Congress.

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Our elected officials, in thrall to their paymasters at the National Rifle Association, have enabled the egregious arming of America. In the process, the right of citizens to feel secure in their homes and communities has been ignored, as more lethal and terrifying weapons are put into the hands of groups that have no legitimate reason for having them and no constraints on where they can carry them.

The federal government needs to recognize its part in enabling the growth and arming of militias and act decisively to disband these violent and racist groups before they coalesce into a national threat. And citizens should use the power of the ballot to root out the shameless NRA enablers in Congress and elect people who are willing to put an end to this deadly organization.

Michael J. Farragher

Rockport

Dylann Roof, James Alex Fields Jr.: native sons

In light of the recent events in Charlottesville, Va., a hashtag has sprung to life, much in the same way people want to believe that white supremacy has. The hashtag #ThisIsNotUs is a perfectly curated, snappy-chatty sound-bite alternative to other, more long-winded condemnations of “those racists” out there. Mayor Marty Walsh said “Boston does not want you here,” and Terry McAuliffe, governor of Virginia, told “all the white supremacists and Nazis” to “go home.” What these people fail to recognize is that the alt-right, the Nazis, the identitarians – they are already at home. In fact, that is exactly what they claim to be defending: their home.

This country’s biggest failure in condemning white supremacists is in pretending they are somehow separate from us, and in denying that the oppression that has impregnated this nation since inception is what gave birth to babies like Dylann Roof and James Alex Fields Jr. The ideologies of white supremacy are deeply woven into the fabric of this country — its culture and its institutions, as well as its people. We must own that truth if we want change our reality.

I offer some more useful hashtags: #MakeAmericaRemember, #MakeAmericaAccountableForOnce.

Aba Taylor

Winchester

The writer is executive director of the Winchester Multicultural Network.

An absolute right to speak,
but no right to be heard

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Re “Protecting speech we hate” (Opinion, Aug. 15): I agree with Joan Vennochi that there is no hate-speech exception to the First Amendment. I’m a longtime contributor to the American Civil Liberties Union, and I supported the ACLU’s 1977 suit regarding the Skokie, Ill., march. I didn’t endorse hate speech then, and I will never endorse it, but the right to speak is indeed absolute.

That said, there is NO constitutional right to be heard. If the neo-Nazis, KKK, and others choose to rally and speak in Boston, I will not listen. Yes, I will fight hate, but I will not listen to the haters. A voice has no power if it has no audience.

David Valade

Melrose