POTUS Donald Trump has been under heavy fire over the last few days regarding his delayed condemnation of the alt-right/white nationalists in Charlottesville after Saturday’s deadly act of domestic terrorism. The horrific vehicular attack on white nationalist counter protesters took place following the forced dispersion of the controversial “Unite the Right” rally organized by blogger and activist Jason Kessler, and resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer of Virginia, as well as the injuries of roughly two dozen other alt-right opponents.
Twenty-year-old Ohio resident James Fields Jr. was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder (and a variety of other charges) shortly after the deadly vehicle attack. Fields had been photographed earlier on Saturday posing with a shield associated with known white supremacist hate group Vanguard America. The group has since disavowed ties with Fields.
While America reeled from Heyer’s senseless death, as well as the horrific show of Nazi, KKK, alt-right, white nationalist, and white supremacist solidarity that was the “Unite the Right” rally, prominent activists, celebrities, and politicians quickly condemned the hateful and bigoted alt-right movement, the KKK, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis for the deadly attack. President Donald Trump, however, used his Twitter account to condemn “all that hate stands for” without naming the groups at the heart of the Charlottesville vehicle attack.
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
After refusing to condemn the violence of a man with established white nationalist ties that took place in association with a controversial white nationalist rally, Trump was almost universally panned on social media, with people from both sides of the political aisle calling on Trump to specifically condemn white nationalist and alt-right hate organizations.
On Monday, days after the “Unite the Right” rally and murder of Heather Heyer, Trump finally directly targeted the white supremacist ideology behind the divisive rally and senseless, vicious slaying. As Business Insider reports, Trump made his remarks condemning racism and “criminals and thugs – including the KKK, neo-Nazis [and] white supremacists” at a press conference at the White House.
“As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It has no place in America. Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs — including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
— Mirror Politics (@MirrorPolitics) August 15, 2017
On Tuesday at a Trump Tower press conference, however, Trump was singing a different tune.
Rather than continuing his condemnation of white nationalists and the alt-right, Donald Trump seemed to stand by his first statement regarding the horrific violence in Charlottesville. Trump claimed that both the rally of white nationalists and counter protesting groups contained “very fine people.”
Trump went on to say that both sides were to blame, both the white nationalists and “alt-left.”
“I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame object on both sides. You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides.”
He claimed that his initial Saturday statement was ” a fine statement.”
The white supremacists said Trump didn't mean what he said yesterday. They were right: https://t.co/VDerFClYHZ
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 15, 2017
Trump then called on a reporter to define the “alt-right,” while calling out the so-called “alt-left” and laying blame for Saturday’s deadly events on the shoulders of anti-Nazi counter protesters as well as white nationalists. Trump did not define his term “alt-left,” and it’s unclear whether or not he was referring to any American who dares oppose Nazism, the KKK, the alt-right, and/or white nationalist views.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? Do they have any assemblage of guilt? What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
ABC News reports that Trump then went on to compare Confederate Civil War General Robert E. Lee to George Washington, questioning whether the Lee statue that inspired the “Unite the Right” rally in the first place should be removed. According to Trump, the statue of Lee is a “very, very important statue” to the white nationalists of America and they were there to protest its possible removal.
— SafetyPin-Daily (@SafetyPinDaily) August 15, 2017
“George Washington as a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me. Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down his statue? He was a major slave owner.”
Trump then used his New York podium to call America’s first president a slave owner and Thomas Jefferson a “major slave owner,” asking whether their statues should be removed.
President Trump failed to mention that neither Washington nor Jefferson were commanders of a failed rebellion against the United States, but rather founders of America.
According to Trump, the fate of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville should remain a local issue.
After his shocking and controversial condemnation of the so-called “alt-left” and inexplicable and divisive likening of two of America’s founding fathers to the general who would see the Union split in half, social media immediately responded to Donald Trump’s unbelievable words.
If there was a line left to cross, Donald Trump just crossed it. We must stand up to this threat to democracy & stand united against hate. pic.twitter.com/FQd5OaMQ4Q
— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) August 15, 2017
Many social media users expressed shock and disdain.
Donald Trump needs to resign immediately. Today was a disgusting inhuman display of indecent absurd behavior & I'm sick of it! #ImpeachTrump
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 15, 2017
By saying he is not taking sides, Donald Trump clearly is. When David Duke and white supremacists cheer, you’re doing it very very wrong.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 15, 2017
Great and good American presidents seek to unite not divide. Donald Trump’s remarks clearly show he is not one of them.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 15, 2017
Today is the day Donald Trump finally became Grand Wizard.
— Jesse McLaren (@McJesse) August 15, 2017
However, the folks at The Daily Show perhaps took Trump to task the harshest. In response to his decision to lump Nazis in the same group as those who oppose them and George Washington in with the likes of failed Confederate General Robert E. Lee, The Daily Show took to Facebook to proclaim Trump president of something far different than the United States of America.
Indeed, in response to his Tuesday words, The Daily Show claims that August 15 is the day that Trump became not POTUS, but president of the Confederacy.
What do you think? Has President Trump set aside American ideals for those of the pre-Civil War Confederacy? Is he right in condemning those who protest Nazis and white nationalists along with the Nazis and white nationalists himself? Let us know in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]