President Trump asks an interesting question: If all statues of people (white men) who owned slaves are torn down by people protesting against the alt-right and neo-nazis, does that not include the Washington and presumably the Jefferson memorials?
Before we explore answers to this question, let's go over a bit of history. But first, yes, slavery and the Civil War are still fresh in the public memory and perhaps no where more so than in Virginia, the heart of the Confederacy.
Some Southerners may still resent "Yankees." This does not mean they riot and are terrorists.
Back to our story.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as many of the founding fathers, as we consider them, did own slaves. This does taint their memories, but we must recall that this was in the 18th century, the 1700s.
As odious as slavery is and was, this was centuries before national socialists, i.e., Nazis, emerged in Germany. That was in the 20th century.
Consequently, the president's question, which seems to endorse neo-nazis, Confederates, the KKK and white supremacists, is based on a false premise.
Nazis probably did not consider Africans to be human, or they gave them subhuman status, along with Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, political enemies, etc. This degenerate ideology culminated in the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews and millions of others, were killed on an industrial scale.
The Holocaust occurred during World War II, between about 1940 through 1945. This is roughly 300 years after Jefferson et al were around.
Does the current batch of would-be Nazis equate Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc. as pro-Nazi? If so, they are wildly, ignorantly, wrong.
Likewise, the KKK's origins are complicated, but it emerged in the 1860-70s, again in the 1920s, and again, now. The KKK is anti-Catholic, anti-Jew, anti-African American, anti-integration, and anti-democratic.
To equate Nazi and KKK philosophies to our founding fathers is worse than ignorant. Most of them did own slaves, but they were neither nazis nor KKK, which emerged centuries later.
Jefferson's and Madison's homes in Virginia confirm that the men owned slaves and current information provided by these historic sites emphasizes the roles of slaves in building, working at, and maintaining the plantations and homes of the wealthy white men at the time.
These historic places acknowledge the tortured duality that permitted Jefferson et al to write about universal freedom and God-given rights, while owning slaves. Remember, however, that the Constitution has been amended to include everyone.
Also keep in mind that white people systematically pushed native Americans off of their ancestral lands. Even if your relatives were absent when this was happening, they did ultimately decide to immigrate to the United States. Current citizens go along with this. Anyone with a conscience should consider moving to a different country.
People who protest against neo-nazis, people imitating that they think is the KKK, and other white supremacists like the alt-right, are protesting contemporary violent, vicious, terrorist groups.
These organizations are comprised mostly of alienated and misguided young white outcasts who have been convinced that somehow 1940s Germany and the period following the Civil War were a "golden age" of whiteness.
Yes, Germany was destroyed by the United States, Soviet Union and United Kingdom and other Allies. No rational non-psychopath believes that any elements of Nazism are worthwhile. The Ku Klux Klan similarly is justly reviled by a vast majority of Americans.
A digression: The Nazi mania for races has no biological basis. Population genetics shows that there is more genetic variability within "white" people than between white and "black." Thinking racially is a mistake, in so far as races do not exist in a natural way. Yes, people do look different from each other, but the difference are literally skin deep. Alt-right white supremacists, neo-nazis and elements of the KKK are probably not up on the biology of simple population genetics.
So, is President Trump ignorant of modern history? Yes, that seems to be the case. Does he understand why counter-protesters who want no part of the alt-right, white supremacy, and neo-nazis, do not equate equate these intolerant hate groups with Washington, Jefferson, and the founding fathers?
Could left-wing groups commit violent acts? Sure. Did communists show up in Charlottesville to attack the provocative racists? Not a shred of evidence that anything like that happened. Did a possible psychotic neo-nazi drive his car into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators? Yes.
But if President Trump continues his slide into the alt-right cesspool, it seems possible that equally violent and intolerant left-wing groups will form and start to conduct terrorist acts.
Nothing good can come of any of this.