Charlottesville rally: Backlash against Trump after insistence in ‘blame on both sides’

Backlash against Trump after insistence in ‘blame on both sides’ for Charlottesville rally

AS the backlash against Donald Trump grows following his repeated insistence there is “blame on both sides” for Charlottesville, one reaction says it all.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly hung his head, folded his arms and stared at the ground during a heated press conference at which the US President refused to condemn the white supremacists behind the violence in Virginia.
“This is how his staff is reacting. Even they know it,” tweeted writer David Patrikarakos in response to the photo taken at Trump Tower on Tuesday by Kristin Donnelly from NBC News.
The image emerged amid an extraordinary groundswell of anger at Mr Trump.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio posted a series of tweets explaining why the President’s words would be chalked up as “a win” by white supremacists. “The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons,” said Senator Rubio. “They are adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin.”

The senator said the new white nationalist movement uses the same symbols and arguments as “groups responsible for some of worst crimes against humanity ever” - the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. “The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected,” he concluded.

His tweets gained thousands of likes and shares in just an hour, after a fiery Mr Trump again stood up for people who protested at the racially charged Virginia rally.

US TV hosts on Monday night expressed disgust at the President’s failure to denounce the Neo-Nazis, with Late Night’s Seth Meyers commenting on Mr Trump’s “many sides” statement: “If that choice of words made you feel sick to your stomach, the good news is you’re a normal and decent person.”
Jimmy Fallon gave an unusually serious monologue on The Tonight Show, saying the President’s words were “shameful”, while The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert said: “Here’s one thing that’s not difficult to express: Nazis are bad. Many sides? Mr President, this is terrorism, not your order at KFC.

“If only the President was as mad about Neo-Nazis murdering people on the street as he’s been about Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, CNN, Joe Scarborough, Kristen Stewart, the cast of Hamilton, Diet Coke, Nordstrom not selling his daughter’s clothes.”
The Washington Post ran a cutting editorial that began: “Tuesday was a great day for David Duke and racists everywhere. The president of the United States all but declared that he has their backs.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon inside Trump Tower, New York, the US President was clearly aggrieved at the strong criticism he received for not denouncing fast enough the white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan members who attended the weekend rally that turned deadly.
Mr Trump said the media had been unfair in blaming only the demonstrators on the Right - who were there to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Mr Trump asked.
“What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs - do they have any problem? I think they do.

“As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day … you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent - and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it now.
“You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

He later echoed the comment that landed him in hot water during his first response to the violence.
“I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it,” the President said.
Mr Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides of the protests.

Members of the white nationalist movement - including leader Richard Spencer - have also blamed the Left, especially the anti-fascist movement Antifa, for sparking the violence.
Mr Trump agreed that there were armed “troublemakers” and “a lot of bad people” on the Left side of the protest.

A 32-year-old woman was killed when she was mowed down by a car allegedly driven by a Nazi sympathiser. About 20 others were injured.
Mr Trump said at the press conference that not all of the people who attended the rally were racists and that many were there to “innocently protest”.

“I’ve condemned Neo-Nazis, I’ve condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were Neo-Nazis, not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch,” he said.
“Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statute … The press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

Mr Trump questioned the need to take down controversial statues that represent America’s racist history, often tied to slavery, implying it amounted to “changing history [and] culture”.
“This week it’s Robert E Lee; I noted that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Mr Trump said, in reference to the fact that Mr Washington and Mr Jefferson, both former presidents, were slave owners.

When asked why he waited two days to explicitly denounce the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis involved in the violence, Mr Trump said he “wanted to make sure … that what I said was correct”.

“I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts,” he said.
“Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts.”
Soon after making that statement, Mr Trump said the man accused of ramming his car into the crowd, James Fields, who is still before the courts, was a murderer.

“The driver of this car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country,” he said.
“You can call it terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it whatever you want … The driver of the car is a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing”.
Mr Trump said race relations in America had been “frayed for a long time”.

The President said he was generating new jobs in the country, which would have a “tremendous positive impact on race relations”.


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