Having issued a tepid blame-both-sides statement about the Charlottesville killing, President Trump on the next day issued another statement squarely blaming white nationalist racists. But then he undid that damage control in a press conference once again blaming both sides:
“You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.
“What about the alt-left that came charging… at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? (…) There are two sides to a story.”
He is correct that there is an alt-left as well as an alt-right, the anarchists and “antifa[scist]” groups that have been stirring up violence in their “resistance” to President Trump. But what was called for in this particular instance is disavowing the neo-Nazi violence and condemning racism. And, politically, to disassociate himself from people like that. Which he didn’t.
The ugliness at Charlottesville goes beyond politics.At the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, white nationalists staged a torch-light procession reminiscent of Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies, complete with sieg-heil salutes, swastika banners, and chants against the Jews. They were opposed by black-garbed masked protesters waving red banners, the sort known for smashing windows, trashing stores, and burning cars. Inept police crowd control failed to separate the two groups, which surged towards each other in violent melees. And then one of the neo-Nazis drove his car into the crowd of protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens. See this for details and for some horrendous photos and videos.
As has been said, the rally and the street fighting are reminiscent of the Weimar Republic! Is this what our country is being reduced to? This is what social breakdown looks like.
Illustration from Bob Mical, Downtown Charlotte, Flickr, Creative Commons License