Update: Bannon has been removed from the White House, but Gorka and Miller are still employed by the administration. And too many members of Congress are still silent on Trump's complicity with White Supremacy.
The violence in Charlottesville this weekend was a stark reminder of the terror caused by White Nationalism and White Supremacy, and the way that these groups are thriving under an administration that has championed their cause.
Even Trump himself knows that there's no way to spin what's been clear to anyone who's been paying attention: his presidency is a White Nationalist project, and has been since day one. That's why, this afternoon, he quickly backtracked from his scripted remarks yesterday and doubled down on his defense of the deadly "Unite the Right" riot.1
Trump's devotion to this ideology starts with the people he's hired to advise him and to make policy: people like Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, and Sebastian Gorka. And after the violence in Charlottesville, it's never been clearer that these men shouldn't be in the White House.
This week, members of Congress have started to join our call for Trump to begin to sever his ties to White Nationalism and White Supremacy by firing these advisers.2 But we need ALL members of Congress to stand up and join us. Click here to send a note to your representatives.
Predictably, Trump’s immediate response to the death and damage caused by the nazi riot in Charlottesville was to ignore it, and then to provide cover by blaming "many sides”—sending a clear signal to his supporters on the far-right—one which they took note of and celebrated.3
From his Muslim ban to his deportation force, from his border wall to his voter purge commission led by White Nationalist Kris Kobach—Trump's rhetoric and policies have been focused almost exclusively on silencing, criminalizing, and excluding immigrants, Muslims, and people of color.
And what happened in Charlottesville was the inevitable result of the Trump administration's agenda. By stoking hatred, Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and Steve Miller empowered the White Supremacists who took to the streets of Charlottesville with torches, guns, and pipes, chanting racist and anti-Jewish hatred, giving Nazi salutes, beating people of color, and killing Heather Heyer.
It's important to remember why the neo-Nazis were rioting: in opposition to the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee—a symbol of slavery and the U.S.'s racist legacy.
In the White House today, the symbols—and proponents—of bigotry are Trump's advisers: Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, and Sebastian Gorka. And just like Confederate statues, there shouldn't be any place for them in the public square. Will you sign and tell your representatives in Congress to join the call for them to be fired?
We know that removing these men from the administration won't end the deep-seated racism, Islamophobia, and bigotry that's infected the White House.
And we know that even after the Trump regime is out of office, the dangerous ideology of White Supremacy and White Nationalism will remain—just as it has long after slavery, the Civil War, and Jim Crow.
But to honor the sacrifice of Heather Heyer and many others—especially Black people and people of color who put their lives and bodies on the line every day—we must commit to doing whatever we can to dismantle White Supremacy and its symbols wherever we find them: whether it's Confederate monuments in our communities or White Nationalists in the White House.
After hearing Trump's comments, I was reminded of the old labor song, which has been adopted by activists in the movement for Black lives. It goes something like this:
Malcolm X was a freedom fighter
And he taught us how to fight
We go’n’ fight all day and night
Until we get it right
Which side are you on, my people? Which side are you on?
We on the freedom side!
Linda, Ishraq, Mohammad, and the MPower Change team
1. "Trump blames ‘both sides’ for Charlottesville violence" Politico, Aug 15, 2017
2. "Lawmakers Demand Donald Trump Fire Top Aides, Saying They Encourage White Supremacists" The Huffington Post, Aug 15, 2017
3. "One group loved Trump’s remarks about Charlottesville: White supremacists" The Washington Post, Aug 13, 2017