In the wake of the events in Charlottesville over the past weekend in which a white supremacist terrorist murdered Heather Heyer in a brazen act of violence meant to inflict fear on anyone who dares stand in the way of the white supremacist movement, Donald Trump had an opportunity to show the country that he was willing to finally display some leadership by taking a strong and powerful stand against the Neo-Nazis and other assorted white supremacists who gathered in Virginia to spew their hate. Not only did he fail miserably, but in his press conference Tuesday from Trump Tower in New York City, Trump also tried to place blame on “both sides,” even though only one of the sides is preaching racial hatred and openly advocating genocide against non-white people.
According to the New York Times, a visibly flustered Donald Trump pinned some of the blame for the violence on the so-called “alt-left” and defended remarks he made on Saturday immediately following the death of Heather Heyer where he blamed “many sides” for the violence.
“I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
Trump made matters worse by praising some of the people on the side of the white supremacist protesters.
“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” Trump said. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”
Many people have criticized Trump for his unwillingness to admit that the problem is not people who oppose hatred, but those who are preaching it. From his own party, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted a powerful rebuke of Trump’s false equivalency.
“No, not the same,” Romney wrote. “One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.”
One of the most powerful critiques of Trump’s failure to lead came from the guy who should be president of the United States, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In a Facebook post earlier today, Sanders scolded Trump for the shame he has brought to the United States.
“President Trump,” Sanders wrote. “You are embarrassing our country and the millions of Americans who fought and died to defeat Nazism. The violence in Charlottesville was not caused by the ‘alt-left,’ (whatever that may be). It was caused by Neo-Nazis and white supremacists who are attempting to spread their hateful and racist ideology.”
Not everyone was upset by Donald Trump’s remarks. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke thanked him for placing the blame on people who actually oppose Duke’s brand of white supremacist racial hatred.
It’s safe to say that if former presidential candidates from both parties are calling you out for blaming people who actually oppose Nazis, Klan members, and other white supremacists, but the most famous Klansman in the world is praising your efforts, you’ve messed up somewhere along the way. Donald Trump continues to bring shame and division to our country and he is either too reckless, too ignorant, or too happy about it to care. The United States deserves better. What we deserve is President Bernie Sanders, a man with the courage, intellect, and responsibility to lead.
[Featured Image by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]