Donald Trump and violence in Charlottesville

 

Sir, – Donald Trump has hit a new low with his latest, reprehensible, attempt to deflect attention away from the savage behaviour of white supremacists in Charlottesville.

Among many far out comments, in the golden, gaudy, lobby of Trump Tower, the stand-out winner, for pure silliness, was the claim that he didn’t understand what the term “alt-right” meant. He also asserted, yet again, that what he called the “alt-left” was equally to blame for the violence and disorder that had occurred.

He insisted disingenuously that it wasn’t just white power protestors who made up the far-right mob. Despite the neo-Nazi flags, and demonstrators chanting white supremacist slogans while holding a torchlight parade through Charlottesville, according to Mr Trump, there was also a sprinkling of “very fine people” in the crowd, too. People who simply wanted to take a legitimate stand against an unpatriotic encroachment on their “cultural heritage”.

These were good, ordinary, Americans, he declared, who only wished, peacefully, “to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee”.

Whatever you say, Mr President!

The US president has come very close to explicitly admitting he is a fellow traveller with America’s worst fascist and racist elements. His shameful and disgraceful remarks drew the following glowing testimonial on Twitter from none other than David Duke, the former “grand wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan.

But, what does all this mean for us in Ireland?

Irish governments are reluctant, on good historical grounds, to stand up to and criticise the US. The reasons for this are real, whether they be economic, cultural, philosophical or sentimental, and are not just excuses.

However, surely, even we are rapidly approaching the point where we need to make some kind of formal statement of dismay at the direction the American president is taking his country in?

Ireland could, perhaps, do this through the aegis of, and in concert with, if they are willing, some of our EU partners. It would be better, and wiser, for us to act with other European countries; both, crucially, for our own protection, but, also, in the hope of having the most influence.

Otherwise, in years to come, we might need to wonder self-reproachfully, why we failed to speak out when we had the chance. – Yours, etc,

JOE McCARTHY,

Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – The actions of the right-wing terrorist in Charlottesville, Virginia, were odious. That is without question. It was a disgusting act of cowardice and wanton violence.

If I may, however, I wish to express my dismay at the American media’s inability to grasp the significance of the recent iconoclasm perpetrated against the symbolic monuments which commemorate historical leaders who fought on the side of the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

History matters. No amount of neo-Nazis bearing discount tiki-torches and no amount of recreational moaning by so-called “anti-fascists” will change that and nor will the incessant, irrational whining of social commentators such as Michael Moore.

History matters. These statues should have been left as they were. Iconoclasm is only valuable in the immediate aftermath of a conflict.

Statues that have remained in place for generations serve mainly as a symbol of the past, despite the initial motivations for their construction.

Of course, the main issue at hand is the disgusting act of the right-wing terrorist killer. But it is important, as a secondary issue, to realise that the reasons for the removal of such monuments are irrational.

Robert E Lee was an important figure in American history; whether Lee was a “bad person” is quite irrelevant. Surely if a crusade is to be taken against racist figures of American history, all monuments to the mostly-pro-slavery Founding Fathers should be removed.

Robert E Lee’s statue was a monument to a dark past. Why shouldn’t dark aspects of the past be symbolically remembered?

This is a question that the vast majority of the American media are willing to ignore due to their lack of appreciation for nuance. Perhaps journalists such as Michael Moore and Don Lemon should consider this secondary situation further. – Yours, etc,

OISÍN KEOGH,

Oughterard,

Co Galway.

Sir. – 2009: Yes we can.

2017: Yes we Klan. – Yours, etc,

DAVID WALSH,

Dublin 8.