By Christine Todd Whitman
August 17, 2017

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

– “You have to be Taught” from South Pacific

The messages we speak to our children will reverberate in generations to come. And those words don’t merely stay in their heads, they quickly become actions. We need to look no further than the violence in Charlottesville to be reminded of the danger of President Trump’s words throughout the campaign and since taking office.

Were there white supremacists and neo-Nazis in our nation before President Trump took office? Of course. The difference is that Trump’s rhetoric has now deemed that behavior acceptable. And we cannot put this extremism back in a box now that it has been allowed to see the light of day.

In his press conference today, Trump said there were bad people on both sides. Creator of the Nazi site The Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, applauded Trump’s statement.

“He didn’t attack us,” he wrote. “(He) implied that there was hate … on both sides.”

We cannot allow this type of hatred in our nation. We must maintain our freedoms of speech and the right to peacefully assemble, but to think that in 2017, some Americans with white skin think that they are superior to other races or creeds is nothing short of terrifying.

No country in the world has done better at incorporating people of different races and ethnicities into one nation as the United States has. Yes, we have had shameful periods in our history – our treatment of the Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crow, and Japanese internment camps just to name a few. But now we are an embarrassment on the world stage. Our allies cannot trust us and our enemies are using our lack of control to their own benefit.

While Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and since have allowed these extremely biased views to flourish, his failure to speak out against violence in office has only emboldened them. Ex-KKK leader David Duke today thanked Trump for “your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM (Black Lives Matter)/Antifa.” A man fascinated with Nazis plowed through a crowd of people with his car on Saturday, killing 32-year old Heather Heyer. Make no mistake: that is domestic terrorism. If a Muslim man had done that in a crowd, it would be labeled terrorism and this is no different. Trump lambasted President Obama for not labeling terrorists “Islamic extremists” and now he is doing the same. President Trump, call it what it is: we witnessed domestic terrorism this weekend from a person who believes that his skin color and religion make him somehow superior to other Americans.

I happened to have been born a Caucasian, Protestant American – something I could no more control than someone born of a different ethnicity or faith. But given my position of relative status, I will not sit idly by – I will speak out against bias at every opportunity, as should my fellow Republicans who command the bully pulpit. Republicans fought for emancipation, desegregated the White House and have been friends of Israel since its latest iteration. We cannot let the party or our country be commandeered by those who oppose anyone different than themselves.