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Why Military Chiefs Are Condemning White Supremacy

By Andrew Exum

Since the president of the United States cast his lot in with white supremacists in his #NotAllNazis moment this week, the nation’s military service chiefs have responded with full-throated statements rejecting extremism and intolerance.

These statements have alarmed many. “If we lived in a different sort of country,” Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate, “this could fairly be seen as the prelude to a military coup.”

And I have some sympathy for this alarm.

As I have written in these pages, I am growing increasingly worried about the politicization of our military. And when I see the military appear to resist the impulses or tweeted policy preferences of the president, I am very conscious that —to build on an astute observation made by my friend Erin Simpson early on in this administration—some of the actions that protect the fabric of American society in the near term could be detrimental to American institutions in the long term. A politicized military that endures beyond this administration, for example, is not in the interests of the American people.

But I’m not as worried by the statements I’ve seen from the service chiefs, because I know there are two other important —and more parochial—motivations leading them to speak out against intolerance and hate groups.

The first motivation is that the U.S. military has long struggled with hate groups—and specifically white supremacists —in its ranks. White supremacist groups and their sympathizers were especially present in the ranks of the U.S. Army’s combat arms units and the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1986, an exasperated Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, ordered the military to crack down on these groups, and another purge was ordered after U.S. Army veteran Timothy McVeigh planted a bomb that almost levelled the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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How Trump’s Reaction to Charlottesville Threatens the GOP

By Ronald Brownstein

From his first days as a presidential candidate, the gravest political risk Donald Trump has presented the GOP is that he would stamp it as a party of racial and social intolerance precisely as the most diverse and inclusive generations in American history—the Millennials and the post-Millennials behind them—are growing into decisive roles in the electorate.

After Trump’s morally stunted response to the recent violence in Charlottesville, that wolf is now at the party’s door.

Trump’s election “may be one of the most costly presidential victories in history for a political party, because [it is leaving] a crimson stain on the party,” said Peter Wehner, the former director of strategic planning in the George W. Bush White House. “I don’t think it … will be easy to get away from.”

Through Trump’s first months, the danger of him branding the GOP as intolerant has steadily smoldered, as he’s rolled out polarizing policies on undocumented and legal immigration, crime and policing, affirmative action, and voting rights. He’s also moved to reverse protections for transgender Americans in schools and the military.

But Trump’s belligerent response to the unrest in Virginia has detonated this slowly burning fuse. His pointed refusal to unambiguously condemn the white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups who gathered there may crystallize, in a way no policy debate could, the picture of him as racially and culturally biased, particularly among younger voters. “The truth is, I bet that Millennials have not paid that much attention to the policy stuff he’s done,” said Andrew Baumann, a Democratic pollster who has extensively surveyed the generation. “But I think Charlottesville is a whole different thing. This is a watershed moment.”

The president’s reaction to Charlottesville closely followed the template he established for dealing with white supremacist David Duke during the 2016 GOP primaries. In late February of that year, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Democrats Mount an Effort to Censure Donald Trump

By Conor Friedersdorf

When Donald Trump failed to single out and denounce Nazis, Klu Klux Klan members, and their allies Sunday, even after they marched by torchlight through an American city, where one among them ran down an anti-racist protester, I noted the historic failure of presidential leadership—a failure underscored by the praise that white supremacist leaders heaped on his approach—and called on Congress to step into the breach, reasserting the nation’s conscience by censuring the president.

In the days that followed, Trump buckled to widespread pressure to single out the white-supremacist groups, naming them in a statement that he read from a teleprompter. But he subsequently declared, in a combative, unscripted press conference Tuesday, that there were some good people on both sides of the Charlottesville protest, implying that good people marched alongside swastikas and KKK members.

A formal censure became even more necessary.

And Wednesday, a group of House Democrats produced a censure resolution against President Trump.

Its full text:

Censuring and condemning President Donald Trump.

115th CONGRESS
1st Session
August 18, 2017

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Mr. NADLER, Ms. WATSON COLEMAN, and Ms. JAYAPAL submitted the following resolution, which was referred to the Committee on _______;

RESOLUTION

Censuring and condemning President Donald Trump.

Whereas on August 11, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a gathering of white supremacists, including neo-Nazis, Klu Klux Klan (KKK) members, and other alt-Right, white nationalist groups, marched through the streets with torches as part of a coordinated ‘Unite the Right’ rally spewing racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred;

Whereas on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a car driven by James Alex Fields, Jr. rammed into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 20 others;

Whereas President Donald Trump’s immediate public comments rebuked “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and failed to specifically condemn the ‘Unite the Right’ rally or cite the white supremacist, neo-Nazi gathering …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: The President’s Manufacturing Cancel

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

President Trump announced on Twitter that he was dissolving two of his advisory councils, after business leaders had stepped down from the groups, citing Trump’s handling of last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. At a memorial service, Susan Bro, the mother of the young woman killed in Charlottesville, urged attendees to “make my daughter’s death worthwhile.” Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s long-time aides, will serve as the interim White House communications director. Former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore will advance to a runoff election in September to fill the Senate seat left open by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The city of Baltimore removed four Confederate monuments overnight.


Today on The Atlantic

  • Trump’s Priorities: President Trump had two choices this week: work with business leaders and fulfill his pledge to bring back manufacturing jobs, or espouse white identity politics. He chose the latter. (David A. Graham)

  • And Then There Were Two: The results of Alabama’s GOP special election primary for the state’s open Senate seat are in—and it’s headed to a September runoff election between two candidates: a Bible-thumper and a tainted establishment figure. (Molly Ball)

  • Charlottesville Could Have Been Worse: To prevent more violent clashes, states should rethink their open-carry gun laws, writes David Frum. After all, “the purpose is always to intimidate—to frighten others away from their lawful rights.”

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The Road to Radicalism in Charlottesville

By Julia Ioffe

“Of course, it was terrorism,” said General H.R. McMaster on Sunday morning, the day after James Alex Fields, Jr. allegedly plowed his gray 2010 Dodge Challenger into a crowd of anti-white supremacist protestors, then reversed and, bumper dangling by a thread, hit still more people on the way back. When he was done, one person, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was dead and 19 more were injured. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that the attack was an act of “domestic terrorism” and that the Department of Justice was investigating him. Fields is being held without bail on a second-degree murder charge.

In being an act of violence with an apparent political motive, Fields’s alleged actions clearly “count” as terrorism according to most definitions of the term. But there are also parallels between Fields and other terrorists in aspects of his route to Charlottesville.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Fields, but there is evidence that he was an adherent of a violent and extremist ideology. Just hours before he allegedly drove his car into that crowd, he was seen marching with and carrying a shield featuring the insignia of Vanguard America, a known white-supremacist group. According to Fields’s former high-school teacher Derek Weimer, Fields was also infatuated with the Nazis. “It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler,” Weimer told The Washington Post. “He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff.” A paper Fields wrote in high school, according to the teacher, was a “big lovefest for the German military and the Waffen-SS.”

In American political discourse, terrorism is a label often reserved for followers of a violent interpretation of Islam, whereas people who commit violence in the name of extremist far-right ideology based on …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The White House Is Under Siege

By David A. Graham

While Donald Trump is on vacation, there are major renovations going on in the West Wing. Perhaps they’ll alter plans and include a portcullis and a moat, because the White House is under siege.

The president is once again facing loud denunciation (though so far little else) from members of his own party. Vice President Pence is cutting short an overseas trip and returning home to an administration in crisis. And Wednesday afternoon, the president announced he was pulling the plug on a manufacturing council and a strategy and policy forum, both comprised of business leaders, after a spree of defections in reaction to Trump’s handing of violence in Charlottesville.

Trump’s campaign for president stood on two legs: the politics of racial grievance, and a promise to bring back manufacturing jobs. What became clear this week is that he can either work with industrial titans on jobs or he can place white identity politics center stage, but he cannot do both. With his open embrace of de-facto white nationalism on Tuesday, Trump made his choice.

From his border wall with Mexico to his protectionist trade impulses to his vow to end “American carnage,” Trump promised white Americans that he would get them back on their feet, turn back the tides of immigration and progressive social justice, and bring back their jobs.

In order to take on the jobs question, he assembled two panels of blue-chip business leaders, the President’s Manufacturing Council and the Strategy and Policy Forum. The actual utility of presidential panels like this is often hard to judge, but for Trump, they represented the concrete evidence that unlike previous presidents, he …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Baltimore Takes Down Its Confederate Monuments

By Clare Foran

The city of Baltimore took down four Confederate monuments overnight, less than a week after white nationalists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, in support of a monument to Robert E. Lee. “They needed to come down,” the city’s Democratic mayor, Catherine Pugh, said on Wednesday morning. “We moved as quickly as we could.”

In the wake of Charlottesville, where the weekend’s demonstrations and counter-protests led to deadly violence, a contentious debate over Confederate symbols is once again playing out across the United States. The Democratic mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, said on Saturday that he would work to “relocate” Confederate statues, though the state’s Republican governor argued on Tuesday that removing monuments would amount to a “sanitization of history.” In Durham, North Carolina, on Monday, protesters toppled a statue honoring “the boys who wore the gray,” an act that has already led to one arrest.

The decision to extract Baltimore’s monuments during the night, and with relatively little fanfare, was reportedly motivated by city officials’ desire to avoid public clashes.

“I’m proud that the city moved so quickly,” said Kwame Rose, a local activist who gained national prominence during protests over the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody in 2015. “I think it stands to show that Baltimore will come to be one of those cities—even after having had so much negative press in the past—that becomes a guiding light,” he told me. Other cities, he noted, have “dragged their feet.”

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The Baltimore monuments’ removal began hours after President Trump questioned the rationale for taking Confederate monuments down. “So this week, it is …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Trump Knows Exactly What He’s Doing

By David A. Graham

President Trump’s short press conference Tuesday afternoon was remarkable for seeming cogent. In so many of his public statements Trump wanders, free-associates, digresses, and seems either incapable or uninterested in piecing together complete sentences. The fact that he didn’t seem to be improvising made his defense of some of those who participated in a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, more important.

It was the clearest and most precise articulation of a view that Trump has espoused since the start of his political career. The president worked to draw a fine distinction between different elements of the march, and in the process to rescue his own vision of pride in white America from being tarnished from association with neo-Nazis. Trump mounted a defense of a political movement rooted in pride about Confederate symbols and white heritage by seeking to disassociate it from its more extreme elements.

“I am not putting anybody on a moral plane,” he said, but that wasn’t quite right. Trump was passing moral judgment on self-described neo-Nazis and white supremacists, in order to defend those who marched alongside them in defense of a Confederate monument, even if they did not endorse either their means or ultimate ends. The latter group forms a core part of Trump’s support. Although many Republican officeholders rushed to condemn Trump’s comments, there’s little evidence to believe most Trump voters disagree with the president. In June 2017, the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling found that 70 percent of Trump backers support public monuments to the Confederacy, with only 15 percent approve of their removal. In a June 2015 CNN poll, almost six in 10 whites said they viewed the Confederate battle flag as a sign of Southern heritage, not bigotry.

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Trump Knows Exactly What He’s Doing

By David A. Graham

President Trump’s short press conference Tuesday afternoon was remarkable for seeming cogent. In so many of his public statements Trump wanders, free-associates, digresses, and seems either incapable or uninterested in piecing together complete sentences. The fact that he didn’t seem to be improvising made his defense of some of those who participated in a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, more important.

It was the clearest and most precise articulation of a view that Trump has espoused since the start of his political career. The president worked to draw a fine distinction between different elements of the march, and in the process to rescue his own vision of pride in white America from being tarnished from association with neo-Nazis. Trump mounted a defense of a political movement rooted in pride about Confederate symbols and white heritage by seeking to disassociate it from its more extreme elements.

“I am not putting anybody on a moral plane,” he said, but that wasn’t quite right. Trump was passing moral judgment on self-described neo-Nazis and white supremacists, in order to defend those who marched alongside them in defense of a Confederate monument, even if they did not endorse either their means or ultimate ends. The latter group forms a core part of Trump’s support. Although many Republican officeholders rushed to condemn Trump’s comments, there’s little evidence to believe most Trump voters disagree with the president. In June 2017, the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling found that 70 percent of Trump backers support public monuments to the Confederacy, with only 15 percent approve of their removal. In a June 2015 CNN poll, almost six in 10 whites said they viewed the Confederate battle flag as a sign of Southern heritage, not bigotry.

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