Imagine waking up in the morning, turning on the TV and seeing news stories of your president condemning those protesting racial inequality as white supremacists riot in the streets and kill people of color and immigrants. One might be confused about over these occurrences and ask, what year is it? Is it the 1950s?
Hardly, as it is 2017, this is our reality, and America has yet to evolve from our racist roots. What was considered progress due to the election of our first African-American president was slowly backtracked for us to become one of the most socially tumultuous and racially bigoted countries of the developed world.
Mike Pence exemplifies this ignorance and racism, and he has expressed this most recently at the Indianapolis Colts game against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 8, leaving abruptly after players knelt during the national anthem to protest against racial inequality.
As Twitter became the strongest form of communication between the White House and the country, Pence took to the social media platform as well to alert the public of his reason for leaving.
His tweet stated, “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” His comments are neither uncommon nor shocking. He is a proud Christian, famous for saying the line “I am a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
This time, though, he used his beliefs to hide his racism underneath a shield of patriotism. While there is nothing wrong with loving God and having conservative political beliefs, there is something wrong when you are in a position of power and continue to oppress minorities and condone the this country’s harmful behavior toward people of color.
As a leader, much like in ethics, we ought to take the path of the greatest good. Stating that his actions were a reprimand to the football players because it is disrespectful to our country begs the question, why were the same responses not taken for the aftermath of the Charlottesville and University of Virginia Nationalist Marches? While, objectively, disrespecting the flag is considered an act done only by anti-nationalists who despise our country, what the football players did was an act of resistance, albeit disrespectful, but one that helped to raise awareness of the white nationalist social climate now seemingly dominating our country.
If our own president fails to denounce those who very blatantly are bringing back the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the worst xenophobic organizations in American history, and the murder of a counter protestor without precedence, what will we do as a country?
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 16 print edition. Email Helen Xie at [email protected]