In Charlottesville I faced off with men bearing torches and swastikas shouting ‘Jews will not replace us’. Yet the president thinks both sides are to blame
Tuesday 15 August 2017
The president of the United States called a mob of people marching with torches and chanting Nazi slogans “very fine people”. Fine people don’t chant Nazi slogans. Fine people don’t surround and attack college students. And fine people don’t stand with those who do.
I was there that night in Charlottesville. I can say with certainty that the only fine people I saw were the young students who stood outnumbered and ready to defend their campus and their beliefs against an onslaught of demagoguery.
I know some of those students. They were ready to die for what they believed in. I was prepared to die, too. A man wearing a swastika pin shouted transphobic and racist vitriol at me, inches from my face.
The only fine people that night were those sprayed with mace and doused with lighter fluid from the torches that they were beaten with, afraid of being burned alive. Fine people don’t wear swastikas. Yet President Trump blamed both sides, despite the fact that only one side was run down by a terrorist.
I was there when the attack happened. Despite the president deeming me – a transgender woman – unfit for military service, I ran toward the attacker with a weapon. I was ready to engage him if he tried to hurt more people.
I reached out to groups attending this event from the left, right and center to urge nonviolence. Meanwhile, the “unite the right” marchers said things like “we’ll fucking kill them if we have to” on camera.
The president can think “both sides” are to blame as long as he wants – but only one side beat a black man nearly to death with poles in a parking garage while hurling racist insults. It wasn’t our side. So why is the president blaming us along with the neo-Nazis?
It wasn’t the Ku Klux Klan and those who wave flags from the Third Reich who were urging nonviolence and trying to save lives in Charlottesville. It was leftist activists like me.
There is no room at the table for both you and decency, Mr President. As someone who stood face to face with men bearing torches and swastikas shouting “Jews will not replace us,” as someone who saw the blood spilled in Charlottesville first-hand, I can tell you this: you aren’t on my side. You aren’t on America’s side. You are on the wrong side.