The Saturday before last, I had the pleasure of viewing former vice president Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Sequel – Truth to Power. This informative documentary on the problem of global warming is interesting and should command a huge audience. I encourage folks to place this film on their must-see list.

That same afternoon, I learned the tragic news from Charlottesville, Virginia and my proposed short note grew into this lengthy, frightened plea to our president. Instead of a peaceful protest march, a group of racist extremists, determined to cause intimidation, destruction, and violence marched into this usually quiet community. The city council had voted to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from the city park. This decision was controversial, but the majority decided the statue was a symbol of the Civil War’s fighting against the union by the states and the shame of slavery and should not be displayed.

Opposing to the removal of the statue, the protest group applied for a license to legally march. By law, they had the right to receive a license to do so. Charlottesville police prepared to monitor any inappropriate behavior but they never anticipated the multiple illegal violent groups that abused the license to march. The protest groups had obviously pre-organized their terrorism as they illegally carried weapons — handguns, rifles and bats. Many wore helmets and military outfits and, shockingly, even a vehicle plummeted into the anti-protest city crowd.

The protestors were members of white supremacist organizations, alt-right supporters, neo-Nazis, and modern-day KKK enthusiasts. They began their terrorism at night, carrying torches, threatening a city church meeting. To add to this unbelievable anti-American action, many carried pro-Trump signs and shouted their support for President Trump. I find it difficult to assume that our president condoned such violence. Our president has not displayed any outrage concerning the abuse of one of our basic constitutional rights — the freedom of speech and the right to march in peaceful protest.

I have participated in protest marches — against the Vietnam War, for gun regulation, for women’s rights, and for voter rights in Selma. All were peaceful, but in Selma we were greeted by an armed police force.

We Americans are proud to uphold our Bill of Rights and our Constitution and our president should be our leader in honoring our democracy. But perhaps I should not be surprised at our president’s non-action, with “advisors” such as Steve Bannon (since deposed), self-described “white nationalist,” alt-right member and publisher of racist “literature”; Steve Miller, known bigot since his college days and now Trump’s speech consultant; Sebastian Gorka, former Nazi sympathizer; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, known for his anti-immigrant, racist views, which cost him a judgeship appointment several years ago. I am aware these men were all very influential in Mr. Trump’s candidacy and the presidency, but Mr. Trump’s loyalty has to be tempered by the anti-constitutional views of these biased men.

It is time, Mr. President, that you take charge and refuse to allow these “advisors” to legitimize hate against blacks, Muslims, Jews and immigrants. It’s time to “clean your own swamp” of these un-American influencers. 

We, Americans, desire a president, not a dictator.

Harriet Hausman is a longtime resident of River Forest.

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