The Charlottesville Address

I guess nobody else wants to do it, so I will. Below is the speech that Donald Trump can give to fix this whole post Charlottesville vibe. I think both supporters and detractors of the President can agree that this would allow him to move forward, without compromising his beliefs.

My Fellow Americans,

Most of us agree that our collective morale is pretty shaky at the moment. Now, as many of you have noticed, I’m not big on apologies. (pause for chuckle) But part of my job, as your President, is to move the spirit of the country forward for all of us. Let me reframe our post Charlottesville national conversation, so that we can move forward together.

I’ll begin by explaining my statements from last week that troubled so many. I was deeply bothered to see so little attention payed to the atifas group members who came armed and ready to provoke violence. I’m at root a guy from Queens, N.Y. As a result, I’m strong spoken and argumentative. I often speak hyperbolically, requiring my listeners to filter the root of what I mean out of the grand overstatement. Perhaps that generous listening is a luxury I should rely on less in my role as President. So let me express myself in more reasoned language. Journalists hurt us when they skew information based on their own emotional bias. Americans must be made aware of a growing pro-violence movement on the fringe left, so that movement can be isolated from the mainstream. Last week, I think the press failed in their responsibility to communicate that.

Partially, I understand it. Swastikas, white hoods and torches cause a visceral reaction that grabs focus. I get that. But as I commit to a more sober and reasoned tone in my rhetoric, I demand that the mainstream media do the same. Together, we must be more reasoned, and reasonable, in our discussions as Americans. We look to our leaders and to the press for exemplars of this behavior. I’m committing to do my part to fill that need going forward. I ask the journalistic community, a necessary element to any thriving democracy, to do their job moving forward with more evenhandedness.

That said, let me make my positions absolutely clear about the far right. I’ve seen many in the white supremacist community praising my statement from last week. I’m a plain spoken man, so let me be clear. Being praised and supported by racists and bigots makes me sick to my stomach. I will speak directly to them, so that I will not be misunderstood again. To David Duke and his his fans in the Klan, to neo-Nazis and pro-secessionist racists – Go To Hell. Or anywhere else for that matter. We don’t want you here. We’ll let you speak, because freedom is so precious to us, that we’ll even allow you to spew your disgusting racist garbage in the public sphere. But make no mistake, you make us sick. You make me sick. I say this as your President, as an American, as a Christian, and as a man. I say this, as the grandfather of beautiful, proudly Jewish grandchildren. I say this as a friend, admirer and colleague of folks from all ethnicities and creeds. Your evil, racist world view makes me sick.

The United States was declared in a fundamental document. It was written by a flawed man, a slave owner. But we are all of us flawed people, who must strive to reach our ideals together. Anyway, that Declaration didn’t only announce that we were starting a new nation. It also announced that it would be based on the idea that our Creator created all of us equal. All of us. And the work of this nation must be done by all of us. Together.

That’s what threw me last week. I was not equating Nazi ideology with any other. I may not agree with the political left, but they aren’t Nazis. When I said that I wasn’t putting anyone on a moral scale I meant that I was only talking about tactics. Nazis are the worst. So please, if you’re going to a rally, and you see swastikas, turn around and go home.

But ideology aside, we must never use violence as a form of political debate. It endangers our American future. We decide with ballots, not bullets. And even when we disagree, we do that together. We debate, campaign and vote. Sometimes our side wins, sometimes we lose. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. When we lose, we reframe and come back into the argument with fresh perspective. Clubs and guns cannot be a part of that process. As President, let me declare that they will not be tolerated from either side.

So let’s all of us take a deep breath. We can debate what to do with statues of General Lee. But we must have that conversation under the assumption that mainstream American voices should be heard from various points on the political spectrum. And while we all express ourselves, we also pledge to really listen to those that we disagree with. All of us. With open hearts and minds. If we change our minds, that’s ok. Mature people can do that.

But if our minds don’t change, that’s ok too. We will see that those we disagree with also are reasonable. We can learn something from them, and respectfully disagree. That very act, hearing each other out with open minds, is so quintessentially American, that I can think of no more relevant lesson to learn from our founding fathers.

Maybe my discomfort with apologizing is not my best quality. But I do hope that this reframing clarifies where my mind and thoughts are. Perhaps more importantly, I hope you can see where my heart is. I pledge to do a better job going forward, helping us unite around our democratic principles. I entered politics to fight for my political opinions and beliefs. To whatever level you are comfortable, I encourage each and every one of you to do the same. But we all share the same uniting principles as Americans. We don’t just believe in freedom and equality, we love these things to our core. It makes us American.

Let’s remember the mission that President Abraham Lincoln calls to us from the past. We must remember that “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  And so, (to paraphrase a bit) “we here highly resolve that these [political battles] shall not have [been fought] in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” On the contrary. It shall prosper.

Thank you.

God Bless you.

And God bless the United States of America.

About the Author
Rabbi Michael Unterberg is an Israel Educator. He is a very proud father and grandfather, and lives in Efrat.
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