The narrative of what happened over the weekend, when alt-right and nationalist organizations gathered to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, has turned into a scathing indictment of President Trump because he did not immediately rush to judgement and specifically blame the violence on “white supremacists.”
In comparison to the way President Obama refused to label terrorist acts as being carried out by Muslims, President Trump has been called out for not blaming the white people who were attacked by Black Lives Matter and Antifa counter-protesters who showed up with the sole purpose of inciting violence and creating chaos. Instead, he said “both sides” were to blame.
President Trump came out on Monday and specifically condemned “white supremacists” and “neo-Nazis”, vowing “justice will be delivered” to the perpetrators of that “racist violence.” Of course, then he was slammed for speaking out too late.
Diverting from his usual comedic stance, “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon echoed the sentiments of his leftist colleagues when he somberly stated that he believes Trump finally denounced the white supremacists at the rally because of the backlash he had received. He attributed Trump eventually condemning the rally organizers to people standing up and demanding it.
“The fact that it took the president two days to clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful,” said Fallon. “It’s important for everyone, especially white people, to speak out against this in this country. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.”
And then President Trump came out on Tuesday afternoon and stood in front of an angry mob of headline-hungry reporters at Trump Tower. He clearly fought to keep his cool as he answered each one of their narrative-driven questions regarding his comments about the events that took place over the weekend, and more importantly, who’s to blame.
The press asked the president to confirm his stance that both sides are guilty of displaying the hate and violence that went on for hours in Virginia, leaving one 32-year old dead and dozens of others injured.
President Donald. J. Trump repeated much of what he said on Saturday, which is that both sides are guilty of violence and hate. The reporters went nuts trying to pin him down, but he did not play their game.
He explained that the reason he didn’t call out David Duke on Saturday is because he had no idea that the former leader of the KKK was at the event. “I want the facts before I make a statement,” said Trump, who noted that even as he made previous comments about what transpired, he did not know all the facts.
Still angling to get President Trump to give them a usable quote that will let the reporters pursue their narrative that the man is no better than Hitler, President Trump nevertheless stood his ground. They kept demanding that he clarify whether or not he denounces the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who attended the event. Trump just stated that he does not support the hate and rhetoric of the KKK and white supremacists, but he also acknowledged there is hate on the side of the “Alt-Left” as well.
“I think there’s blame on both sides,” he said, adding specifically that James Fields, the driver of the car that killed Heather Heyer at the protests, is a “murderer.”
When President Trump condemned violence and hatred on “many sides”, the reporters were stunned. It’s not politically correct to denounce organizations like Black Lives Matter and Antifa. It’s not cool to point out that the so-called “racists” who were protesting Charlotesville’s removal of historic statues actually had a permit to hold their rally, while the others, who brought weapons and anger, crashed the legally-sanctioned event.
“What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands,” Trump said of Antifa protesters. “That was a horrible, horrible day.”
Trump bluntly pointed out that the left has been on somewhat of a mission to tear down Confederate monuments and other controversial icons. And some of the people who wanted to attend the Charlottesville event were only there to innocently voice their opinion against the removal of an historic statue.
Provoking his critics further, President Trump said it was unwise to continue to remove monuments like the city’s Robert E. Lee statue.
He pointed out that if the idea behind the demonstrations calling for the removal of Confederate monuments was that the structures memorialized were often slaveholders, then symbols of many of our nation’s founders are going to have to be removed. “This week… it’s Robert E. Lee. And, I heard Stonewall Jackson is coming down,” said Trump, with a gleam in his eye while he made the reporters think it through. “Is George Washington [coming down] next week? And, is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?” Both American icons were slaveholders in Virginia, he noted.
“You’re changing history. You’re changing culture,” he said, reiterating that, nonetheless, “neo-Nazi’s and white nationalists should be condemned totally.”
He pointed out that those who oppose the Robert E. Lee monument’s removal are being treated unfairly in the press.
As owner of a winery just south of Charlottesville, President Trump concluded his Q&A by noting that he knows the area well. And throughout the press conference, he made it clear that he had researched what went on in the little Virginia city and was now armed with facts.