Conservative black pastors and scholars rallied behind President Donald Trump at a Monday press conference to decry allegations that he is the “driver” of racial division in America after his initial response to the racial conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The latest rebellion against Trump was largely ignited by Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer’s claim that there is “direct line” connecting the Charlottesville racial violence with his presidential campaign messaging last year – an accusation that numerous African American clergy and other conservative Christian political activists and intellectual leaders utterly rejected at a National Press Club news conference.
From praise to contempt …
The event was organized by Center of Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) Founder Star Parker, whose Washington, D.C.-based think tank originally scheduled to give Trump accolades for his contribution to the black community at the meeting.
“[T]he press conference was originally scheduled for the purpose of praising the Trump administration's plan to revitalize inner cities,” The Christian Post (CP) reported. “But given the events of last weekend – where clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters became deadly – Charlottesville and the related issue of racial conflict dominated much of the talk in the news conference.”
In an attempt to turn the praise into criticism, the press questioned Parker and other black leaders next to her at the podium about Trump’s so-called racial divisiveness following the Charlottesville incident.
"[Is it] disingenuous to pretend that President Trump is not the driver for a lot of the division we see now in this country?" the conservative leaders were asked by the mainstream media.
CURE Executive Vice President Rev. Derek McCoy immediately shot back in Trump’s defense.
"One thing you need to understand – you are saying that the president is the instigator, and I think that is absolutely wrong,” answered McCoy – who directs the CURE National Clergy Network – according to CP. “No, it is not disingenuous."
He followed up by conceding that even though he is not in 100-percent agreement with everything Trump says and does, he respects his position in office, and the fact that the commander-in-chief is dedicated to bring the country together – not pull it apart.
"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,” McCoy continued. “If we are looking about how we can move our country forward, we are trying to make sure that we do that collectively together."
He then brought up how the cultural strife is converting college and university campuses across America from marketplaces of ideas into politically correct indoctrination stations where conservatives are afraid to speak out.
"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 pressed. "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 on the foundational principles of America – where we can foster, flourish and grow together and learn from each other."
It was argued by Republican political activist Corrogan Vaughn that the mainstream media is conspiring to villainize Trump.
"Don't make our commander-in-chief a villain when in actuality, it is more the villainess of the media in terms of making something where nothing is," argued Vaughn, who was a challenger of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in last year’s election.
Americans have lost their way …
Michigan State University professor of political philosophy, William Allen, also had a comeback for the media.
"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,” asserted Allen, who is the former chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. “The first thing wrong with it is we are pretending to hide behind blaming President Trump for our failures."
Allen – who is also the former dean of Michigan State University’s James Madison College – noted that Americans have strayed from defending the free speech of others … a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
“[Allen] recalled a time in 1977 when the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] defended the right of Nazi supporters to wear Nazi uniforms and display swastikas when the National Socialist Party of America marched through the predominantly Jewish community of Skokie, Illinois,” CP’s Samuel Smith informed.
He said things have greatly changed in America over the past four decades.
"There was a time when we celebrated what we might call the 'Skokie principle' – when the far-Right marched through Skokie, Illinois, [and] the Left defended their right to march and speak even hateful speech,” Allen recalled. “We are no longer celebrating the 'Skokie principle' in our country. We stopped celebrating the 'Skokie principle' long before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency."
The scholar went on to lament that many Americans are unfortunately on a wayward path that leads to destruction.
"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 insisted. "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?' In short, I would encourage you and all who embraced this particular meme to challenge themselves to find better ways to express hopeful expectations of humanity."
Putting blame where blame's due
Nationally acclaimed syndicated columnist Star Parker pointed out to the press that the “alt-Left” is responsible for much of the racial tensions plaguing America today.
"I would like to see the discussion continue because the president was accurate when he said there are both sides," insisted Parker, who ran for the House of Representatives back in 2010, according to CP. "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.'”
She stressed that it is up to Americans – whether they want to lead the country in a godly path … or in a direction that leads to pain, suffering and ultimately, destruction.
“[Americans have a] hard choice to make – we are either going to be biblical and free, or we are going to be secular in status. " Parker impressed. “That is the cultural war. There is no need in us denying that we are not in one."
No one, she says, is immune to the consequences of how Americans deal with the cultural strife.
"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,” the conservative voice for the black community asserted. “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."
Choosing not to lead local citizens toward a path of unity and reconciliation, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer told residents – and the country – that Trump was ultimately to blame for his city’s violence, insisting that his presidential campaign played “on our worst prejudices.”
“I don’t want to make this too much about Donald Trump,” Signer told John Dickerson on CBS’s Face the Nation on the weekend of the violence, according to Politico. “We have a lot of grieving – a lot of work to do as a city and as a country – but he should look in the mirror. I mean, he made a choice in his presidential campaign – the folks around with him – to, you know, go right to the gutter … to play on our worst prejudices. And I think you are seeing a direct line from what happened here this weekend to those choices.”
Signer took his anti-Trump rant to another Leftist media outlet, as well.
“Look at the campaign he ran … I mean, look at the intentional courting – both on the one hand of all these white supremacists, white nationalists, a group like that, anti-Semitic groups – and then look on the other hand the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, you know, put to bed all those different efforts, just like we saw yesterday,” the Democratic mayor told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union the Sunday after the incident. “I mean, this is not hard. There's – you know, there's two words that need to be said over and over again, domestic terrorism and white supremacy. That is exactly what we saw on display this weekend. And we just aren't seeing leadership from the White House.”
Not good enough?
Addressing the condemnation coming from Democrats and Republicans alike, Trump made it clear that he – in no way – supports racism directed against African Americans.
“After receiving criticism from political leaders from both parties for not directly naming white supremacists and other far-Right extremists in his initial statement responding to the violence in Charlottesville, Trump condemned white supremacists, the KKK and other far-right extremists by calling them ‘repugnant’ while speaking during a White House event on Monday,” CP's Smith recounted.
Trump made no pretentions by calling a spade a spade and addressing the wickedness of racist white groups, indicating that their way of thinking is an abomination to society.
"Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs – including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups – [and they] are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans," Trump declared on the weekend of the Charlottesville violence, according to CNN. "Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America."
After getting together with new FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss the civil rights investigation into the Charlottesville attack, Trump issued a promise to America.
"To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable," the president assured. "Justice will be delivered."