Condemning neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other hateful ideologies is common sense. Not political calculus.
When there’s been a terrorist attack on American soil. When there’s been a fringe group that’s risen from the depths of the internet and joined forces with white nationalist groups to deliberately intimidate peaceful demonstrators. When a member of our community is fighting for her life from injuries she sustained from a car plowing into a group of innocent people.
On Saturday, August 12th a frenzied man, fueled by racist agitation from the Alt-Right, allegedly drove his car into a group of un-armed demonstrators, killing one and injuring dozens.
The perpetrator’s checkered history of Nazi views does not diminish the role of the heavily armed, hate-spewing, Alt-Right, neo-Nazi, white nationalists who incited the violence that resulted in the murder of one woman and the attempted murder of many more. And the most our elected official, House Representative John Abney Culberson, could muster is an unoriginal Tweet.
This Tweet seems to align Culberson as a Nazi sympathizer, since he didn’t immediately describe this tragedy for what it was: a culmination of racist sentiment that’s been emboldened since Trump took office and boiled over into the vicious attack in Charlottesville. Now I question Culberson’s competency to govern. Has he been insulated for so long from the real world where real people live and real people die from similar attacks like this every day that he can’t even produce a genuine response? We get nothing but a half-baked Tweet. Perhaps governing-by-Tweet is the new normal and we should at least be grateful that Culberson said anything at all!
After all, he did get an honorable mention in the Texas Tribune for this condemnation of the attacks:
Joining the long list of Texas lawmakers condemning the violence Saturday afternoon were U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, and U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville.
Excuse me for expecting more from someone who’s claimed to represent his constituents and the American people for nearly 17 years.
One of the demonstrators who was unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire of the vehicle in that fateful moment was a young woman by the name of Natalie Romero, a Houston native and recent graduate of Bellaire High School. I’m proud to have witnessed an outpouring of support for Natalie at a vigil for solidarity held the following day at Houston City Hall. A GoFundMe campaign to cover her medical bills raised over $135,000 in the three days following the vigil thanks to contributions from 4,893 people. That’s what I expect, a visceral outpour of anguish over the scope of this tragedy. Yet all we saw was politicians tacitly condone the Alt-Right terrorism until it because politically profitable to do otherwise.
3 Days, 19 Hours, and 4 Minutes after Culberson’s initial Tweet, he managed another.
Our savior, our hero, finally got his political remedial pre-calculus worked out. After being lambasted by the real world into condemning this act of hatred for what it really was. Oh, and he was thoughtful enough to put together a “full statement” on his Facebook page where he tacks on “I applaud Texas A&M for cancelling the white supremacist rally. There is no place in this country for Neo Nazis, the KKK or any other hateful ideologies. America's greatest strength is equal justice for all. Let's all work together to drive out violence and racial superiority and guarantee the rule of law for all Americans.”
This man has never been accused of being verbose. Maybe one can read between the lines and eke out a hint of sincerity. Truly courageous.
Should we be upset? Frankly, Culberson isn’t even worth the effort. This democracy we know and love will prove consequential for him when he’s up for re-election in 2018. Until then, don’t ever lose your convictions. Talk to your friends, encourage political awareness, and keep holding our representative accountable at every turn. And when our time comes in 2018, we vote.
Vigil Photos by Robert Icsezen