I want my conservative friends to consider a thought experiment. Imagine if, on 9/11, as you watched that horror on your television, you'd been sitting with two liberal friends. And as the second plane struck the second tower, imagine if one of those liberal friends had said, "Well, the U.S. has done a lot of terrible things, too."
Imagine how you would have felt about that friend in that moment. I'm guessing you would have been angry. You might have even hated that person a little. Regardless of your previous relationship, you would have considered ending that friendship forever.
Now, is what that hypothetical liberal said untrue? No. Regardless of your politics, we can all agree that some Americans have done horrible things in the past. Jeffrey Dalmer was an American. But you would not have given that liberal a pass because of the veracity of the statement. You would have judged them based on their timing.
I'm the other liberal in that room, and I, my conservative friend, would have agreed with you 100%. Making that statement at that time would have been a defense of the Al-Qaeda terrorists and their actions. It would have been taking a stand against America and everything we hold dear.
And you and I, together, would have called out that liberal right then and there and said, "Not acceptable." Under pressure, that liberal would have backtracked. But imagine how you (and I) would have felt about that person if, two days later, he/she came back around and was still making a "both sides" argument.
That's what you are doing when you make a both sides argument now. Is it true that there are people who have done terrible things in the name of the left, or of #BlackLivesMatter? Yes. There was that guy who killed five police officers in Dallas. He was not actually associated with #BLM, and #BLM condemend his actions immediately, just like Al Qaida was not representative of the vast majority of Muslims and Muslims all over the world condemened the attacks of 9/11, but he did tey and associate himself with #BLM, a group that explicitly stands for protecting human life, ending racist violence, and doing so peacefully. As a supporter of #BlackLivesMatter, I am still appalled and incensed by what that man did, but I can't deny that he tried to associate himself with #BLM. If his actions make you hate #BLM, just as the actions of the 9/11 hijackers made some people hate all Muslims, I think that's both ignorant and insulting, but I can see why someone who doesn't know much about #BLM or Islam might make that mistake.
But timing matters.
Even if you hold that view, in this particular moment, if you choose to employ it, you are just like the person making an excuse for 9/11. And the way you would feel about a person making excuses for 9/11 is exactly the way all anti-Nazi right-thinking Americans think about you. And how we think about our current President.
Now, I understand that a lot of folks feel that because they voted for Donald Trump, they are in a moment of cognitave disonance that's deeply uncomfortable. They don't want to repudiate him because that would mean admitting to error, and that's really uncomfortable. On the other hand, they don't want to side with Nazis and David Duke in their admiration of Trump. It's going to take some time, but I expect that the more folks learn about the number of avowed racists and white supremacists Trump has packed into our government, the more his non-racist followers will abandon him. I hope so, anyway. You'll wrestle with whether you can continue supporting a man who chose racist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Steven Bannon (a guy who bragged about creating the platform for the "alt-right") as one of his chief advisers, and Sebastian Gorka (literally a member of the Hungarian Nazi party) and his wife who cut the funding for anti-fascist hate groups investigations by the FBI. For a while, you'll cry, "Fake News!" because these facts are very uncomfortable. But eventually I think you'll reject a White House filled with racists, and hopefully even reflect on why Trump's bigoted campaign rhetoric appealed to you.
But in the meantime, please understand where were coming from. Just as you and I would agree that someone shouldn't be trying to make excuses for guys who ran planes into buildings by deflecting from what is going on right before our eyes, you and I should agree that no one should be making excuses for a domestic terrorists who kill people with their car. Trying to justify it by denouncing unarmed, peaceful protesters who came out to stand up against hatred is so abhorrent that we will be very angry and may even hate you a little in that moment. We don't want to hate our fellow Americans, but just as you would while watching the planes run into the towers, we're watching Nazis march through American streets and commit murder. Save your criticisms for the left for a more appropriate time. Right now, you don't need to defend Donald Trump. You need to defend America from Nazis, and from anyone making excuses for Nazis, and that includes defending America from Donald Trump rather than repeating his double-down.
Timing matters. Heather Heyer was killed by a Nazi. Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Rick Best were killed by an ultra-nationalist. Samuel Dubose was killed by a police officer wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt under his uniform. This is not the time to be making a "both sides" argument. People who do, including the President, are opposed to American values, to civil society, to human dignity. They are on the side of white supremacy and genocide.
I know some of you can't bear the thought of agreeing with a liberal. But we're in a foxhole together, and the Nazis are advancing. So quit arguing "both sides" and devote yourself to to opposing the Nazis you say you reject before you get to the "but." This is the moment to set your antipathy for liberals aside and stand strongly against Nazis in our midst. Right now.