Plenty in the media and in politics blame Trump for the rise of white nationalism. Many of them are the same folks who have always argued that conservatism — whether tax cuts, defense of the unborn, or belief in free enterprise — is just thinly veiled racism, and on these grounds alone they don’t deserve to be taken seriously. Even so, a president has to be above the blame game played by his critics. The single best way to prove them wrong would be for Trump to crusade actively against white nationalism.
Trump should deliver a prime-time speech as soon as possible that names the evil at play here and denounces it. He has on Twitter rightly condemned the actions in El Paso. Now he needs to face the cameras, address the nation, and condemn the motivation. Trump needs to make clear that he hates white nationalism as something un-American and evil. And he ought not dilute this attack by talking again about “many” or “both” sides, by offering up nonconstructive criticisms of liberals which (intentionally or not) stoke racial tensions, or any other such distraction.
An evil and increasingly violent ideology threatens to inflict even deeper wounds to this country. President Trump has an opportunity — and yes, a duty — to name this evil and condemn it.