COLUMN: Immoral Equivalency

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to Harry is a resident of Logan and an alumnus of Utah State University. He can be reached via email at His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees. 

— On January 20th, 1942, exactly 75 years to the day before Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the President of the United States, a conference of high ranking Germans was held at a lakefront villa in the town of Wannsee, near Berlin.

At this conference were career military men, doctors of various types and Nazi thugs. The chair of the conference was Reinhard Heydrich, an unrepentant murderer and SS Leader Heinrich Himmler’s number one henchman. The meeting was fully catered with food and drink and lasted under two hours.

This meeting discussed what Germany should do with the Jews that were currently residing in countries under Nazi rule. Shooting so many Jews was not only expensive—bullets cost money—but was also having a negative effect on the common German soldier that were ordered to assassinate civilians…including women, children, the old and the infirmed.

It was at this conference that every German in attendance, fighting World War II in Adolf Hitler’s name, would be informed how they would implement the eradication of over 11 million Jews from the European continent. The name of this plan is now a proper noun and is emblematic of an act of evil unparalleled in human history.

The Final Solution.

Germany would gather every Jew on the continent into concentration camps, bring them in large groups into a chamber under the guise of a communal shower and poisonous gas pellets would be dropped down into chimneys, killing all inside.

— On June 21st, 1964, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner were murdered off a back road near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Chaney was black. Goodman and Schwerner were Jews. They were spending that summer in Mississippi attempting to enfranchise black Americans by registering them to vote—as was their right granted to them in the United States Constitution.

As the three Civil Rights workers were heading to investigate the burning of a black church, they were arrested by a deputy sheriff for speeding and held in jail for seven hours. During that interim, a lynch mob was formed by Samuel Bowers, who held the title of Imperial Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan.

After their release from the jail, the three men were stalked, stopped and murdered in cold blood. The lynch mob dropped their bodies in a swamp. Three months later, federal investigators found their bodies.

It took three years to get the murderers, including Bowers, into a courtroom. They were eventually found guilty of violating the dead men’s civil rights, but not for murder. The reason for this was that a murder prosecution needed to have been argued on a state level, and Mississippi refused to pursue the case. Only one man, Edgar Ray Killen, was convicted by a Mississippi court for the murder of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. That happened in 2005, 41 years after the fact.

To this day, the Confederate flag is featured in the state flag of Mississippi.

— On August 15th, 2017 President Donald J. Trump exited an elevator into the opulent lobby of Trump Tower, a skyscraper in New York City that houses the gold-plated condominium that Trump calls home with his wife and young son. He was expected to make comments about a proposed infrastructure plan to fix America’s dilapidated roads, crumbling bridges and outdated public transportation systems. That’s not what happened.

Trump used the gathering press gaggle to address the events that occurred over the past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. This was the third time he addressed the incident that saw professed white supremacists and neo-Nazis clash with counter-protesters.

The white supremacists walked through the streets chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. Many were armed and wearing makeshift body armor. They carried with them the flags of Nazi Germany and the Confederate States of America. They proudly wore symbols of the KKK and other White Pride regalia. They praised Trump.

Heather Heyer, a resident of Charlottesville, was killed when a Nazi sympathiser rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

In the immediate aftermath, President Trump offered condemnation of violent protesters “on both sides”. The correct colloquialism for what Trump did with that comment is a dog whistle. He was showing loyalty to the racist, bigoted, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, undereducated, deplorable “base” that put him in office.

When the backlash to Trump’s unpresidential comments built up, Trump offered a second statement. He read from a script and was obviously agitated in doing so. Then, he walked off that elevator and unloaded a third volley.

Trump assailed the media. Trump reiterated his “both sides” argument regarding violence in Charlottesville. He sounded like a bitter, 71 year old bigot. He was unhinged, incoherent and vitriolic.

This is Donald Trump. He’s a kook. He mimicked the supporters that unapologetically love him for his open prejudices. He offered a pathetic pass towards the most hideous people in this country as a means to excuse their behavior, excite his base and excommunicate himself from responsibility.

It is not a moral equivalency, it is an immoral equivalency. In order to willfully engage in illegal, illicit and immoral behaviors, Trump and his disgraceful followers suggest that other irrelevant, uncorrelated events by “the other side” make their slimy actions acceptable and justifiable.

Yes, some protesters from left-leaning groups initiate violence and chaos. That is wrong and should be prosecuted. But that is not what happened in Charlottesville. What happened there was white supremacists, sans hoods, associated themselves with the Nazis, who killed 6 million Jews; and, the Ku Klux Klan, who have used many incarnations since the Civil War ended to promote and implement domestic terrorism against anyone not white or Christian.

These are the people Donald Trump said were good people.

President Trump needs to be removed from office. His supporters should suffer the eternal taint of their endorsement for this un-American lunatic. And future generations should look at the hideous marchers of Charlottesville with the same exasperation that we feel looking at black and white film of Germans giving the Nazi salute, and Klansman worshipping a burning cross.

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