White Nationalists March? It’s Time to Read the Newspaper.

This article was originally published in Extra Newsfeed.

JUNEAU, ALASKA—In today’s political climate, it’s easy to be disengaged. It’s easy to just sit back, and ignore the endless stream of news alerts pinging your mobile device about the latest developments coming from the White House, because let’s be honest — most of them are meaningless.

President Trump is constantly tweeting controversial statements: from ranting about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s low ratings on The Apprentice to asking whether or not “[Kim Jong Un] has anything better to do with his life”, because he tested another ballistic missile. Treating these 140-character ramblings as news gets old, fast, and tuning it all out is far too easy to do.

Yet today’s news alert caught my eye, because it’s quite out of the ordinary: “White Nationalists March on University of Virginia”. The University of Virginia — isn’t this supposed to be one of the nation’s most storied educational institutions, a public ivy located in Northern Virginia?

White Nationalists — weren’t they relegated to the fringes of mainstream American society at the turn of last century?

What on earth is going on here?

White nationalists, as it turns out, are marching in protest of a “conflict” all too common in twenty-first century America: the removal of confederate statues from a Southern city. Similar to the fracas two years ago when South Carolina took down the confederate flag that flew at the state capital for more than 50 years, the removal of such icons brings out demonstrators on both sides.

White Nationalists — take that for what it is — gathered on Friday night and Saturday morning to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Among them was David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Duke was quoted as saying that “we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back” — this coming from a man that once oversaw the most notorious white supremacist organization in our nation’s history.

Footage emerging later in the day on Saturday showed a vehicle driving into a crowd of protestors in an apparent attack on those who were marching against the gathering of white supremacists. It’s a chilling insight into the fury coming from two opposite ends of the political spectrum, and a frightening look at the consequences of the words of our President.

Disengagement from political life is becoming more difficult. It’s easy to ignore the rhetoric coming out of the White House, but the adage is well-known: the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. When the former head of the Ku Klux Klan interprets the words of the Leader of the Free World to mean that it’s time to “take [their] country back”, we must take notice.

We are only six months into a Trump Presidency, with forty-two more to go. Ignoring the rhetoric of the president is no longer sufficient.

Three and a half years is enough time for many mistakes to be made — across the political spectrum — but the most dangerous of all would be for the good citizens of our country to do nothing. Ignoring political strife might be the easy thing to do, but close attention must be paid to everything the President says.