Charlottesville Is Donald Trump’s Fault?

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“Well, the president has to share responsibility.”

—  Cokie Roberts, This Week, ABC News, Sunday, August 13, 2017


President Donald Trump isn’t taking the bait that the mainstream media and left-wing politicians want him to take.

If you listen, you can see the strategy of his enemies:  Make Trump acknowledge that white racism is part of his base and that he has been appealing to it for a long time.

This is the nature of the attack on Trump’s initial statement condemning the car attack by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday that killed a 32-year-old counterprotester. (Two Virginia state police officers also died, because of a helicopter accident related to their response to the riots.)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made the strategy plain during his comments at a press conference this afternoon.

“We heard the rhetoric at those campaign rallies. We heard the silence this weekend,” Walsh said, reading from prepared remarks. “Don’t hand hatred a megaphone and pretend you can’t hear it.”

In other words:  Trump has been supporting white racists all along.


Where did Donald Trump appeal to white racists to support him? Left-wing critics won’t find an instance of it. But they hope that by making the claim it will stick.

Indeed, if there were an example of Trump saying something actually racist, it would have killed his campaign for president. Why? Because America is not a racist country. The vast majority of Americans reject hatred and bigotry toward their fellow human beings based on the color of their skin. They won’t support someone who supports racial hatred or bigotry. This is why, for instance, David Duke is not an actual political figure in America.

On Saturday, when he spoke about Charlottesville, President Trump did not mention white supremacists or white nationalists specifically. He might have. But understand that no matter what he did he was going to get criticized for it, because the mainstream media and many liberal politicians are desperate to tie him to white racism as a means of destroying him.

The truth — or lack of truth — doesn’t matter.

Mayor Walsh, for instance, lapsed into pure demagoguery this afternoon when he mentioned Trump’s “many sides” comment.

“This was never a ‘many-sides’ issue. This was a right-and-wrong issue,” Walsh said.

This makes you think that perhaps Trump took a nuanced view of the violence in Charlottesville when he spoke on Saturday. He didn’t.

Here’s what he said:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, this has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”

The “many sides” phrase refers to political violence in this country — which hasn’t been a right-wing phenomenon.

It has been a left-wing phenomenon.

Up until Saturday, all of the political violence in America during the past year has been from left-wing anti-Trump people:  the riot against Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California at Berkeley on February 1; the riot against Charles Murray at Middlebury College in Vermont that injured a professor on March 2; the shooting attack at the Republicans’ baseball practice in northern Virginia on June 14 that nearly killed a congressman and left him with serious and apparently permanent injuries.

What is the difference between the conservative response and the liberal response?

Conservatives in this country (by and large) have condemned the violence without trying to score partisan political points from it.

Many liberal commentators have noted (some with glee) that some of the so-called white nationalists in Charlottesville say they support Trump.

In the weeks before the election last fall, it briefly became national news that a Ku Klux Klan publication that no one can find or had ever heard of endorsed Trump. National news, mind you, not because it was significant or noteworthy, but only in hopes that it would hurt Trump.

It didn’t, but not because there are significant numbers of people in this country who support white racism. It didn’t succeed because there are significant numbers of people in this country who see through the mainstream media.

So if Trump’s appeal isn’t racist, what is it that draws white racists to Trump?

To be fair, there’s some overlap in agendas. Most Americans want an end to illegal immigration and a limit on legal immigration because they are concerned about what immigration is doing to Americans. So-called white nationalists don’t like immigration because they don’t like immigrants. So on that issue they get to the same policy result for a different reason.

But there’s another, more pervasive explanation.

Perhaps the so-called white nationalists have been listening to the same false narrative about Donald Trump from the mainstream media the rest of us keep hearing.

Only in their case, they believe it.