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From Charlottesville: This Nightmare Must End

photo by Erik Larson

Civic

From Charlottesville: This Nightmare Must End

I’m going to be honest with you.  I’ve been attempting to write a column about the beginning of the end of our Trump-tastrophe for over a week now.  It started with the special election win by Dr. Phil Miller in Iowa’s 82nd House District.  It was meant to argue we should be paying more attention to Trump’s sagging – if not dismal – poll numbers and what they might mean here in Indiana.

The newest CNN poll showed that the President’s overall approval was down to 38%.  But that’s not even the worst of the poll data.  The real kicker was that 62% said they don’t believe he can even do the job.  And the inside baseball numbers suggest that those who strongly support Trump – those folks still wearing those red MAGA hats – have gone from a high of 73% to 59%.  A Politico poll showed that of those surveyed, only 18% “strongly” approve of his performance.  That’s abysmal.

In another poll released last week, the Investor’s Business Daily poll – folks who should straight up be fanatics about anything pro-business and Trump – reported that his approval rating was down to 32%.  The poll also revealed that nearly half of those surveyed (47%) now believe it is okay to openly discuss impeachment.  That seems to have caught the attention of Members of Congress as reported by Carl Bernstein who recently tweeted that Republicans on the Hill are discussing it behind closed doors.

Then Friday night and Saturday occurred.  And then Monday.  And then Tuesday where the President doubled down on enabling white supremacists and nazis.  A question I asked my politically astute friends the other night was: “Can you remember any other elected official imploding this poorly in the span of four days?”  At least Vice President Pence knows that when he’s made a major mistake, you should go into hiding until it all blows over and the media has moved onto the next story.

I spoke with a friend of mine who is a resident and volunteer firefighter in Charlottesville about the events.  He’s the same one that took the cover photo for this column.  I’ve visited Charlottesville plenty of times when I lived on the east coast for various reasons.  It’s progressive, bucolic, and the kind of city you don’t expect in the middle of Virginia.  It is constantly overshadowed by the presence of Monticello both literally and figuratively.  My friend, who is active in the online presence of the resistance there, told me about how they had a feeling last weekend would go the way it did.  These same agitators had a rally earlier this summer and to resistors it felt like it was a practice for what was to come.  At the first rally, they saw how police were going to behave towards them, how they would be treated, how many counter protestors would be there, where they’d come from, what they could get away with, and what they couldn’t.

I asked him what – if anything – he would like us in the Midwest to know about what happened and about Charlottesville.  He said the following:

“[Charlottesville] was an easy target.  It’s a liberal town in a predominantly conservative state.  The capital of the Confederacy was just an hour down the road in Richmond.  We have a University known for being an upper echelon for most everything and we’re only two and a half hours away from D.C.  They came for us first, but this is just the start.  If we don’t stomp out these ideas right now, they will grow and before you know it, you’ll wonder how you ended up with Nazis waving flags with swastikas on them in your front yard.  Trust me – that’s what we couldn’t understand either.  We thought we were ready, and we were wrong.  But it’s not about ‘why Charlottesville’ – it’s about [these] racist and bigoted ideas and how they have no place in this country, no matter whose yard they are in.”

Replace Charlottesville with Indianapolis or Bloomington or West Lafayette.  Replace D.C. with Chicago.  And know that Indiana is among those that have practically no hate crimes law.  Scared yet?  You should be.

A mention has been made before on this website about how a portion of Hoosiers gas up in Indianapolis and don’t stop until they hit Bloomington.  People are still scared of the “in between” on Indiana 37.  We’ve had stories in the Indy Star about white nationalists and their open displays of hatred in our neighborhoods.  And, if anyone has driven north on I-65 to Lebanon, I’m sure you’ve noticed the house on the east side of the interstate that flies – at the same time – the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia and a Thin Blue Line flag.  The utter hypocrisy of flying them at the same time seems not to bother the owner with one supporting rebellion of the laws of the United States and the other supporting those who uphold them daily.

The simple fact is, Trump and his rhetoric have enabled and emboldened hate groups to feel safe and come out of the shadows again.  There are nine more rallies like the one in Virginia scheduled for Saturday around the country.  And with more cities removing confederate statues in the dead of night, I fear this is only the beginning of something far worse.

We’re left with one question, in the end, posed in Erik’s poignant photograph of the pop-up memorial for slain protestor Heather Heyer:  When will the nightmare end?  When will Congress, Republicans, and America begin to take a stand against a person we clearly see as unfit to uphold the office of President of the United States?  Soon may not be soon enough.

 

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Ziemba, a native of Northwest Indiana, now makes Indianapolis his home with his wife and young son. A graduate of DePauw University, he has served in city, county, state, and federal government as well as on campaigns for each level of public service. An attorney by trade, he has a knack for commentary on history and the role it plays in society today, the arts in our community, being a father in the digital age, and the all important bigger picture in life.

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