President Trump just can’t bring himself to unequivocally condemn and repudiate white supremacy and its modern-day equivalent, the “alt-right.”
He can’t bring himself to acknowledge that terrorism committed by white supremacists is, indeed, terrorism. The president’s tepid response yesterday to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, was telling. He denounced the hate and violence but spread the blame to “many sides.”
No, Mr. President, there are not “many sides” to what happened in Virginia.
Not when we see hundreds of white supremacists marching with torches at night in an American city.
Not when we see people killed and injured by a white supremacist using his car as a weapon.
Trump’s initial, milquetoast response left racists feeling just fine. Amid its blog posts celebrating the day’s events, the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer wrote that Trump’s comments were “really good,” adding that the president “didn’t attack us … no condemnation at all.”
Reacting to the national outrage, the White House issued another statement today – not even attributed to Trump – that said “of course” his condemnation “includes white supremacists, K.K.K. neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”
But Trump himself was silent.
I’m sure white supremacists remain reassured that they have a friend in the White House. A president who spews vitriol and heaps scorn on his enemies virtually every day – and who has no trouble calling Mexicans killers and “rapists” – still can’t break off the unholy alliance with bigots that he’s been cultivating since he first claimed President Obama’s birth certificate was bogus.
And I suspect the alt-righters believe they can count on Trump to continue pursuing the same white nationalist political agenda that’s been so plainly evident throughout the first six months of his administration. And why wouldn’t they think so – with alt-right champion Stephen Bannon whispering in Trump’s ear?
No, Mr. Trump, there are not “many sides” to this. There is white supremacy, and there is America. There is good, and there is evil.
It’s not a hard choice.