Email #255: “his true intent”?

Condemnations of President Trump continue daily.

Five more charities cancelled fundraising events at the President’s Mar-a-Lago yesterday: Susan G. Komen, the International Red Cross, the Salvation Army; the Autism Association of Palm Beach County, and Big Dog Ranch Rescue. That brings the total to eight.

The President’s 16-member Committee on the Arts and Humanities all resigned on Friday too. They told the President: “Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville. The false equivalencies you push cannot stand… Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”

The President’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also responded to his Tuesday press conference by issuing statements on Twitter and Facebook that openly contradict their Commander-in-Chief.

Army Chief, General Mark Milley: “The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It’s against our Values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775.”

Air Force Chief, General David Goldfein: “I stand with my fellow service chiefs in saying we’re always stronger together-it’s who we are as Airmen.”

Naval Operations Chief, Admiral John Richardson: “The shameful events in Charlottesville are unacceptable and must not be tolerated… The Navy will forever stand against intolerance and hatred. For those on our team, we want our Navy to be the safest possible place–a team as strong and tough as we can be, saving violence only for our enemies.”

Marine Corps Commandant, General Robert Neller: “No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act”

National Guard Chief, General Joseph Lengyel: “I stand with my fellow Joint Chiefs in condemning racism, extremism & hatred. Our diversity is our strength.”

Republican politicians continue to condemn the President too. Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger said yesterday: “The only way to beat the loud, angry voice of hate is to meet them with louder, more reasonable voices. That includes you, President Trump. In fact, as president of this great country, you have a moral responsibility to send an unequivocal message that you won’t stand for hate and racism.”

Mitt Romney expanded his earlier criticism of the President yesterday too: “Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn… His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric… He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville.”

In fact, Romney’s statement about Donald Trump from June 2016 now appears disturbingly prescient: “I think his comments time and again appeal to the racist tendency that exists in some people, and I think that’s very dangerous… I don’t want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation. And trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny — all of these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.”

Instead of responding to any of this criticism, the President is planning his own rally next week in Phoenix. Mayor Greg Stanton responded: “I am disappointed that President Trump has chosen to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville. It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit…. If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation.”

I think the entire country now fully understands the President’s “true intent.” I believe you do too.  I don’t know if your refusal to condemn him is based on political calculation or cowardice or both, but the longer you remain silent, the greater your culpability for the damage President Trump is causing our country.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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