President Trump has been heavily criticised for appearing to defend the alt-right in the wake of the devastating Charlottesville car attack in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Throughout the conference, Trump appeared agitated and defensive. When asked why it had taken him so long to condemn the Unite the Right protesters, Trump answered:
“I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct. Not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement was correct a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. It’s a very, very important process to me. And it’s a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to my original statement … I brought it.”
Trump went on to defend his statement on Saturday, saying:
“Excuse me, excuse me, take it nice and easy. Here’s the thing. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn’t even happen yet as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts. So I don’t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent. In fact, the young woman who I hear was a fantastic young woman, and it was on NBC, her mother wrote me and said though I guess Twitter, social media, the nicest things. And I very much appreciated that. I hear she was a fine, really actually an incredible young woman. But her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly, if the press were not fake, and it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”
Then Trump switched his focus to attacking the “alt-left”:
I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned very different groups. But not all those people were”I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned very different groups. But not all those people were neo-Nazis, believe me, not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see, and you’d know it if you were honest reporters which in many cases you’re not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is 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. But they were there to protest, excuse me, take a look at the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.”
Republican Senator for Florida, Marco Rubio defended President Trump’s statement on twitter:
“Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. This is simple: we must condemn and marginalize white supremacist groups, not encourage and embolden them.”
However, the reaction from both Republicans and Democrats has been overwhelmingly negative. Democrat Congresswoman from New York, Kathleen Rice, tweeted: “President Trump is a racist. Period. He’s gone out of his way to make that clear, so let’s not tip-toe around it. He’s a racist.” Similarly, Democrat Senator from Hawaii, Brian Schaltz tweeted: “As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment. This is not my president.” Meanwhile, former House Majority Leader and Republican Congressman from Virginia, Eric Cantor criticised Trump for equating the counter-protesters with the alt-right.
Trump’s plight certainly hasn’t been helped by the support he has been receiving from white supremacists. Richard Spencer told the Washington Examiner that he was grateful to Trump for “defending the truth.” Likewise, Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, tweeted:
“Thank you President Trump, for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
There can be little doubt that President Trump deserves wide-spread criticism for his refusal to directly name and shame neo-nazis, white supremacists, and the alt-right for their role in the events in Charlottesville on Saturday. He rightly deserves criticism for refusing to condemn the alt-right during his Presidential campaign.
And the people who should be criticising him should be the American people, not the hypocritical mainstream media and political left who only seem to find their moral indignation when evil can be attributed to the right.
This, after all, is the same media that overhypes every threat of right wing violence and turns every crime committed by a right winger into a condemnation of all conservatives, but conveniently turns a blind eye to the violence committed by antifa in Seattle, Sacramento, and Berkeley. The same media that has presented right wing violence as a bigger threat to people’s safety than Islamic terrorism, which has routinely downplayed its threat, and vilified anyone who wishes to talk about the issue as being an “Islamaphobe.”
Then there’s the left wing media’s remarkable lack of criticism towards Barack Obama. They did not condemn Obama’s speech in Dallas, Texas, where he blamed the murder of five police officers on the legacy of Jim Crow and slavery, and claimed the police were unfairly and systematically targeting African Americans.
Does President Trump deserve criticism for his refusal to name and shame those responsible for the violence on Saturday? Undoubtedly yes. But the mainstream media and political left have no moral authority to do so.