Ever since Donald Trump called people marching under the banner of the swastika at the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally “very fine people” the MAGA Cult has done what it perpetually does, deny reality and declare he did no such thing. Somebody tried to deny this reality to the doggedly honest and thorough Deacon Steven Greydanus, which is always a huge blunder. Here is his reply to that bare-faced lie. It is fitting that a Catholic deacon so this because, to the lasting shame of the American Catholic communion, it is self-proclaimed “Faith conservative Catholics”, as well as Evangelicals and many Orthodox who stain and blacken the witness of the gospel with their deathless support for this filth. That is why it is the duty of all those who defend the gospel to oppose this filth loudly and publicly, lest God’s name be blasphemed among the Gentiles and it be supposed by any that this filth is, in any way, compatible with the teaching of Christ or Holy Church. Deacon Greydanus does a fine job calling these lies out when he writes:
First, some background. The Unite the Right was the third white-identity demonstration at Charlottesville within four months, following rallies led by Richard Spencer in May and the KKK rally in July — all around the same statue.
Check out the marketing materials produced for the rally by its organizers. Look at the flyer below, with the clear Nazi associations of the imagery and design.
Let’s look at some of those names of the speakers on this flyer:
* Richard Spencer, of course, needs no introduction. Less violent than some of his fellow speakers, he advocates a “peaceful ethnic cleansing” and the creation of a white separatist ethnostate.
* White nationalist Mike Enoch has a podcast called The Daily Shoah (yes, you read that right). Every time you see someone with triple parens around their names (Google it if you aren’t familiar with its antisemitic implications and subsequent subversion by anti-antisemites), you’re witnessing one of Enoch’s contributions to contemporary cultural dialogue.
* Jason Kessler, the rally organizer, was kicked out of the Proud Boys for his views on race. (Kessler nevertheless invited the founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes, to participate, but he was unwilling “to be associated with explicit neo-Nazis.” The Proud Boys are self-described “Western chauvinists” who are pro-Trump and pro-Southern culture, but disavow racism.)
* Baked Alaska is known, according to Gizmodo, for retweeting “videos of his friends saying that ‘Hitler did nothing wrong'” and “images of people in gas chambers.” He talks a lot about “white genocide.”
* Shock jock Christopher Cantwell tepidly endorsed Trump for president, complaining that he would have preferred a candidate “a lot more racist than Donald Trump” who “does not give his daughter to a Jew.” He was a little blunter in a more recent interview: “Let’s f—ing gas the kikes and have a race war.”
* Matt Heimbach is the founder of a group that advocates the creation of a white separatist ethnostate. Unlike Spencer, Heimbach has no problem aligning with violent ideologies as long as the violence is directed against “race-mixers, homosexuals, abortionists and Jews.”
* Pax Dickson is the most seemingly mainstream name on the flyer. He wrote for Business Insider a few years ago but was forced out due to derogatory tweets about women and feminism. I don’t know much about him; his willingness to appear alongside the other people listed here is the worst thing I know about him.
* Dr. Michael Hill is the co-founder president of the League of the South, a “Southern secession” group. He is an explicit white supremacist who defends slavery.
* Augustus Sol Invictus (right, he’s got a neopagan thing going on, like the Nazis) is a Holocaust denier and a promoter of eugenics. (His name is on another version of this flyer.)
Can you name a single group that participated in, supported, or organized for Unite the Right that wasn’t a white-identity group? Who on earth that wasn’t a rabid racist would agree to have anything to do with these people?
By August, anyone paying attention should have known exactly what the Unite the Right rally was about. On the theory that some naive, non-racist conservatives stumbled into the rally without knowing what it was really about and who was participating, how long do you think they would have gone along with it?
“Very fine people” don’t do that sort of thing.
Now, let’s review what President Trump said.
The president actually issued THREE responses to Charlottesville over four days: on Saturday, August 12; on Monday, August 14; and on Tuesday, August 15.
His FIRST statement, on Saturday, we might charitably hope was the kind of not entirely informed statement some of his defenders have supposed. This was the statement where he blamed bigotry and violence “on many sides.”
Backlash to this statement over the next two days was tremendous. So on Monday Trump issued a SECOND response, a prepared speech (written for him, obviously) in which he unequivocally condemned racism, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
By the time this second statement was issued on Monday, one would hope and expect that Trump or at least his advisors would have made it their business to ensure that the president was adequately informed on this issue and specifically on the nature of the rally in Charlottesville, based on two days of backlash in response to the first statement.
But then the next day, on Tuesday, Trump issued a THIRD statement reverting to and defending his original statement. IT WAS IN THIS THIRD STATEMENT that Trump made the remark about “very fine people” on both sides.
Ironically, in this third statement he also referred TWELVE TIMES to the importance of getting or knowing “the facts.”
Asked why he waited until Saturday to make his first statement, Trump replied:
“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct. Not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You [journalists] still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me. And it’s a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts…”
Later he said,
“When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn’t even happen yet, as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts. So I don’t want to rush into a statement…But unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”
He went on and on and on like this, about the importance of knowing the facts, and how he waited until Saturday to be sure of getting the facts and making a correct statement.
Again, this was on TUESDAY, AFTER the backlash to his Saturday statement, and AFTER making the second statement unequivocally condemning racism, white supremacists and Nazis.
And it was in THIS third statement that he said “you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”
So, at that point, after two days of backlash to his first statement, after the second, scripted statement, and after all his bloviating about the importance of getting the facts for this Saturday statement, Trump clearly had every reason to know the truth about who he was calling “very fine people.”