White Nationalists Are Lovin’ Trump’s Delayed Condemnation Of Hate Groups

White Nationalists Are Lovin’ Trump’s Delayed Condemnation Of Hate Groups


The two-day delay between the outbreak of
violence at white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and President Donald Trump’s short
remarks Monday calling out the “KKK, neo-Nazis, [and] white supremacists” by name was sharply
criticized by his critics and allies alike. The far-right extremists behind the “Unite
The Right” rally, held Saturday to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate
Gen. Robert E. Lee, took notice too. In delaying an explicit condemnation of hate
groups and initially criticizing “many sides” involved in the conflict, these groups said,
the President provided political cover and allowed counter-protesters to share blame
for the violence, which turned deadly when a man who’d espoused white supremacist views
drove his car into the crowd, killing one woman and injuring at least 19 others. “As he pointed out, there was violence and
malice on both sides, and to pretend somehow that there was only violence on one side or
hostility on one side, that’s just wrong,” Jared Taylor, head of white nationalist publication
American Renaissance, told TPM. “Joe Biden said there’s only one side. Well, wait a
minute, if the counter-demonstrators would not have showed up, there would have been
no violence at all. It takes two to do this.” In a blog post about the rally, Taylor wrote
that, “Of all people, it was Donald Trump who came the closest to getting it right”
in his response. William Johnson, head of the white nationalist
American Freedom Party,who bankrolled robocalls for Trump during the campaign, shared a similar
interpretation of Trump’s Monday remarks. “Donald Trump’s most recent condemnation
of racism was also good and was appropriate as the head of our entire country,” Johnson
wrote TPM in an email. “I note that he condemned all racism INCLUDING that coming from the
KKK and neo-nazis. The use of the word ‘including’ indicates that he believes there is a larger,
over-arching source of racism besides those groups named.” Johnson went on to say he believes white people
face more racism than non-whites. “This is because whites have, by and large,
been conditioned to suppress racist thoughts,” he wrote. “Saturday’s deadly act in Charlotteville
[sic] by the angry white driver with the lead foot proves this fact. Acts of violence by
whites are proportionally fewer that by many other groups. His act sets the nationalist
movement back considerably.” “I am pleased with what Donald Trump said,”
Johnson added. “The only solution for the festering racism of this country is separation
and the creation of a white ethnostate.” Hundreds of avowed white nationalists and
neo-Nazis from across the country descended on the small Virginia college town armed with
metal rods, swastika flags, helmets and shields. Some wore Ku Klux Klan hoods. They were escorted
by heavily armed, camouflage-clad militia members. As they marched through the streets making
Nazi salutes and chanting “blood and soil,” bloody scuffles broke out between them and
the counter-protesters and anti-fascist demonstrators who turned out to take a stand against the
message of “Unite the Right.” Trump initially sent out a few vague tweets
condemning “all this hate” and calling the events in Charlottesville “sad.” After
white nationalist James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his car into the crowd, killing anti-racist
protester Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others, Trump made a brief televised statement
condemning the “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” White nationalist leaders immediately seized
on the vagueness of those comments. “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack
us,” Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, wrote in a post. “He
just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.” “He said he loves us all,” Anglin continued.
“Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him. No condemnation
at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God
bless him.” Richard Spencer, the head of the white nationalist
National Policy Institute who is best known for shouting “Hail victory!” at a gathering
held shortly after Trump’s election, also pointed out that the President’s remarks
were left wide open to interpretation. “Did Trump just denounce antifa?” Spencer
asked, using shorthand for the anti-fascist movement. For 48 hours after the attack in Charlottesville,
Trump let the statements of other officials speak for him, as he often did during the
campaign. His daughter Ivanka, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Attorney General Jeff
Sessions and others issued much more forcefulcomments explicitly blaming white nationalists for
instigating the weekend’s events and labelling the car attack an act of domestic terrorism. It was only after a non-stop chorus of condemnation
rang out on the cable news networks and among Republican senators that Trump finally came
out and made his own brief statement Monday afternoon calling racism “evil.” Asked what he believed accounted for the delay,
American Renaissance’s Taylor said he couldn’t “speculate.” “He just seems to be more basically fair-minded
about how it takes two to do this and it was the other side who succeeded in completely
shutting down what was intended to be a peaceful rally,” Taylor said. “Why is no one else
capable of seeing that?”

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