“You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch. But there is another side. There was a group on this side — you can call them the left, you just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.” […]
Trump appeared to equate the violence to both sides of the people gathered in Charlottesville. When asked about comments by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., about the alt-right, Trump fired back: “What about the alt-left that came charging?” “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” the president said.
Yep, Trump is saying the people struck by a car are equally guilty of perpetuating violence as the white supremacists who beat protesters and paraded around in neo-Nazi gear, as the civilians who showed up in full combat gear in the hope of sparking a race war.
Speaking on Tuesday, he insisted that many of those in the crowds brandishing Nazi flags and engaging white power salutes were simply “there to protest the taking down the statue of Robert E Lee.”
Trump himself defended Robert E. Lee thus:
“George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? …Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? OK, good. Are we going to take down his statue, because he was a major slave owner.
For those who aren’t up on US history, Robert E. Lee was a general of the Confederate army that tried to secede from the US over the ability to own slaves, and was known as a cruel slave-owner. He’s a key marker of white supremacy in the USA.
But even if one conceded Lee’s military prowess, he would still be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans in defense of the South’s authority to own millions of human beings as property because they are black. Lee’s elevation is a key part of a 150-year-old propaganda campaign designed to erase slavery as the cause of the war and whitewash the Confederate cause as a noble one. That ideology is known as the Lost Cause, and as historian David Blight writes, it provided a “foundation on which Southerners built the Jim Crow system.” […]
Lee’s cruelty as a slavemaster was not confined to physical punishment. In Reading the Man, the historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s portrait of Lee through his writings, Pryor writes that “Lee ruptured the Washington and Custis tradition of respecting slave families,” by hiring them off to other plantations, and that “by 1860 he had broken up every family but one on the estate, some of whom had been together since Mount Vernon days.” The separation of slave families was one of the most unfathomably devastating aspects of slavery, and Pryor wrote that Lee’s slaves regarded him as “the worst man I ever see.” […]
Lee’s heavy hand on the Arlington plantation, Pryor writes, nearly led to a slave revolt, in part because the enslaved had been expected to be freed upon their previous master’s death, and Lee had engaged in a dubious legal interpretation of his will in order to keep them as his property, one that lasted until a Virginia court forced him to free them.
When two of his slaves escaped and were recaptured, Lee either beat them himself or ordered the overseer to “lay it on well.” Wesley Norris, one of the slaves who was whipped, recalled that “not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”
The reason Trump gave for waiting two days is illuminating.
“When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened… Before I make a statement, I need the facts. I don’t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent.”
In the same speech, he both said all the facts haven’t come in yet, and that Nazis don’t support him. David Duke, who had been critical of Trump’s earlier weak disavowal of white supremacists, is pleased with the new remarks. Meanwhile, outside of his supporters the only people cheering Trump’s remarks are the racists of 4chan. Even FOX wasn’t on board, with one anchor saying “This was a white nationalist rally.”
If facts were all Trump cared about, he would have joined most Republicans in denouncing the white supremacists. In reality, he was almost certainly collecting talking points from them, and they were having a tough time coming up with a coherent defense. That, and the above, are pretty strong evidence that Trump himself is a neo-Nazi.
[Much thanks to Salty Current, as usual, for a few of my links.]
Thanks also to Lynna, for linking to the full text of Trump’s speech and revealing this interesting slip:
TRUMP: When you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. Define it for me, come on, let’s go. Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at us – excuse me – what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
Trump himself identifies with neo-Nazis, he’s just not willing to admit it in public.
Hmph. I got suspicious of the previous quote, and started digging. Here’s what the official White House transcript says:
TRUMP: Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at — excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
TRUMP: OK. What about the alt-left that came charging at- [Indistinct.] Excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?
Vox’s “rush transcript:”
TRUMP: What about the alt left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt right? Do they have any assemblage of guilt?
TRUMP: What about the alt-left that came charging at the — as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
The variation I quoted above was from Politico. At the bottom of the page is this:
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this transcript quoted Trump as saying, “Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at us – excuse me.” In a review of the audio, we could not definitively discern Trump’s exact words at that moment in the news conference. The transcript has been updated to now read: “Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at [indiscernible] – excuse me.”
You can watch the key passage yourself. “Charging at us” is plausible, but so is “charging at’m.” There’s too much cross-talk for me to be sure, and I could be led astray by top-down audio processing. So demote that one down to “indeterminate.”