The day after neo-Nazis were once again marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, Vice President Mike Pence felt the need to make a statement. At around 1:30 pm yesterday, Pence bravely took the podium in front of an assembled press core who had no idea what to expect. Pence began with a direct and assertive denunciation of white nationalists, klansmen, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and run-of-the-mill white supremacists so often associated with President Trump’s administration, “I want to be as clear as crystal here: If you support the KKK, we don’t want your support; if you are aligned with Nazis, we don’t want your support; if you believe in the idea of a superior race, we don’t want your support; if you vilify people of color, we don’t want your support.”
He followed that up by stating that he supported peaceful protests even if he disagreed with the method, “I have been very clear that I do not agree with NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. I believe it is disrespectful to our flag, our troops and our nation. But I also cherish and value the freedoms that define the United States, and so, even though I disagree with their actions, I fully support the rights of these players to demonstrate.”
Only…none of that happened. Pence hasn’t said a word about the Nazi rally in Charlottesville, and he certainly never said he supports the rights of football players to protest.
What did happen in the unfortunate terrestrial reality we now all find ourselves helplessly trapped within, was Vice President Michael Richard Pence used public money for a ridiculous political publicity stunt that only solidified his administration’s alignment with wide-eyed, authoritarian-level nationalism and white supremacy.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Vice President Pence was in Las Vegas this weekend, and his next scheduled stop was to be in California for a fundraising event. But instead, Pence decided to hop on Air Force Two with his entire secret service detail and head to Indianapolis to see the Colts face off against the 49ers. Pence left the game in protest (just dripping with irony) after several 49er players knelt during the National Anthem.
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.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
Now, Pence knew these players were going to kneel, this protest started with Colin Kaepernick while he was a member of the 49ers, and 20 or so players kneel every game. So Pence went to the game, intending to leave. It has been reported that Pence told the press to stay in the van, and he lazily posted a photo from three years ago to feign excitement.
The notion that this was all planned was later confirmed by his blabber-mouth boss who took to Twitter to essentially take credit for the expensive dog and pony show.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
The trip by @VP Pence was long planned. He is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2017
Pence used over $200,000 in public money for a ridiculous political stunt aimed, almost exclusively, at black men peacefully protesting inequality. And he did this in the shadow of white supremacists marching with torches in Virginia.
The fact that this was considered a priority for this administration speaks volumes. They claim to worship the constitution and yet they continually use the most powerful offices in the world to circumvent it. The amount of time and effort Trump and co. put into attempting to silence any voices of dissent, especially when said voices derive from people of color, cannot be ignored.
There’s a common denominator here, and it has been Trump’s M.O. for decades. If he’s well-versed in one thing, it’s aggressive othering. No one can divide and vilify quite like Donald Trump.
The culture of an organization extends from its leader, which is why this administration is petty, divisive, cloddish and woefully inept.
Written by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.