The public was stunned Saturday when President Donald Trump refused to condemn violence from white nationalists and neo-Nazis during a rally in Charlottesville, VA, but then his administration stood by the remarks.
Speaking from vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” despite the outright chaos brought by the rally and documented attacks committed against counter-protesters. Given that some protesters were seen in Trump’s Make America Great Again gear and chanting “Heil Trump,” it’s believed his insistence that violence came from “many sides” was a dog whistle to his base.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 12, 2017
Hallie Jackson, a reporter for MSNBC, then asked a White House official for clarification, giving the administration a chance to call the protesters what they were. Instead, the official appeared to double down on Trump’s vagueries regarding the incident.
“The president was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today,” the official said, not mentioning that one counter-protester was killed and at least 20 were injured when they took to the streets to oppose the neo-Nazis.
— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) August 12, 2017
The violence in Charlottesville erupted during a rally by white nationalists to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a public park. It had initially been moved to another location, but a judge later ruled it could take place in Charlottesville. It began with a Friday night march where fascists carried torches through the University of Virginia campus, chanting and making Nazi salutes, and though the official rally was set to begin at noon on Saturday, thousands showed up hours earlier. They were met by counter-protesters, including a contingent of multi-faith clergy, and responded with violence, including physical assault and plowing a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.