What Trump Didn’t Say About Charlottesville Matters Much More Than What He Did

Midday Saturday I received a text from a buddy of mine, someone who isn’t a fan of Donald Trump, saying he was giving the “president” credit for speaking out about the chaos that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.

My response was quick and simple:

When I see him act as outraged and angry as he does when he’s legitimately upset about something, and he condemns these hate groups individually, by name, then I’ll give him some form of credit.

Donald Trump didn’t tweet anything about the violence in Charlottesville until after noon, which if you know anything about his routine of tweeting, is much later than usual. When the “president” is legitimately angry about something, he starts firing off tweets first thing in the morning.

And, no, I don’t want to hear the excuse that “he was waiting to find out more information.” Donald Trump wasted absolutely no time trying to politicize the terrorist attacks in London. We’re not dealing with a man who, when he’s genuinely bothered by something, “waits for the facts” — he just rants.

Even in his two tweets about the violence in Virginia, Trump never once called out, specifically, the KKK, white nationalists, or Nazis who were the cause of all of this — unlike many other politicians, including Republicans Jeb Bush and Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Even former grand wizard of the KKK and well-known white supremacist David Duke said:

We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.

For the record, that’s one of the most famous white nationalists in the country specifically citing Trump as the inspiration for this horrific and deplorable racist gathering.

Then when Trump finally spoke publicly about what was going on in Charlottesville, still, not one single time did he emphatically denounce or condemn the groups responsible for such a heinous spectacle.

Instead, he spoke vaguely, saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

No, no, no — no. 

What the hell is Trump talking about “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides”?!

This wasn’t a gathering of minority groups marching to “take their country” from white Americans. This was a gathering of blatantly racist hate groups, inspired by Trump’s rhetoric, who descended upon Charllottesville to, as David Duke said, “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back” from minorities.

There’s no “both sides are equally at fault” to any of this.

What Trump needed to say Saturday was, “I (not “we” — but I) emphatically condemn and reject the support of the white nationalists, the KKK, and these Nazi groups whose hate, racism, and bigotry led to such inexcusable violence and mayhem.”

He needed to stand there and say, specifically, the names of these groups and racist ideologies which need to be rejected.

What he didn’t need to do was come out and essentially say both sides are equally as guilty of racism, hate, and bigotry and it’s time we come together.

There’s no “coming together” or “uniting” with white nationalists, the KKK, or Nazis.

That sort of rhetoric is applicable when you’re talking about two sides who are simply in disagreement over a varying degree of subjective issues — but not when you’re talking about vile hate groups.

When a gathering of people get together who believe in nothing more than the superiority of the white race, while viewing all other groups as subhuman, there’s no passing the blame around.

Look, I don’t want to sound too petty with this, though I know that’s how I’m coming off. But it’s hard for me to give Trump any credit when I know how he acts when he’s actually bothered by something — and that’s not what I saw on Saturday.

Yes, it’s true Trump eventually said something, but he really had no choice in that regard. Had he not made any sort of public statement about this deadly violence, the optics of that would have been extremely damaging for him and his political ambitions.

Then when he did finally make a public statement, instead of specifically calling out these reprehensible groups of blatant racists responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, he gave a brief, mostly vague, statement where he seemed to insinuate that no one group of people were specifically responsible for what happened, but that all sides share some of the blame.

From a man who has absolutely no problem directly attacking or lashing out at certain individuals or groups, when Trump doesn’t specifically do that, his omission of any detailed condemnation speaks volumes.

That’s why what Donald Trump didn’t say on Saturday matters much more than what he did.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Hume

    Correct …. we have trouble, right here in these here United States …. and that trouble is being stoked by djt ….

  • Linda Clark Kohrt Brooks

    I totally agree with you, as usual. trump’s tweet was weak and basically meaningless. It showed none of the bombastic outrage that he exhibits when he feels he has been insulted or wronged. Or investigated. Or questioned. This shameful rally by white supremacists, which never should have been allowed to take place to begin with – fuck their First Amendment “rights” – resulted in a death. A death! trump never mentions the victim by name or that the perpetrator was a white nationalist sympathizer. And what does “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides (repeat for emphasis in case we didn’t get it the first time) mean? Okay, the white nationalists are one side consumed by hatred, bigotry and violence – who are the other sides? And how many is “many”? Does this moron ever read over his tweets to see if they make any sense before he vomits them on us? As you said, he has not and he will not renounce any white supremacist or neo-nazi group by name, or any of their leaders by name, because these people are a core part of his ever-dwindling base of supporters, and also, I believe, because he perceives them as “powerful” in some way, and just as with Putin, he only attacks those he feels are weaker than him in some way. This is classic bullying behavior – cruelty toward those perceived as weaker, but hands off to those who might kick his ass. And, again, as to First Amendment “rights”, they protect freedom of speech within limits. You may have the right to say something, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t sometimes consequences. Just like the old example of not being allowed to yell Fire in a crowded theater, you don’t have the “freedom” to say things that can cause injury to others, and the ranting and vile statements and T-shirts and baiting by these white nationalists in no way can be considered “peaceful assembly”. I wish they would secede somewhere & take trump with them. We should have let them go the first time.

    • strayaway

      Sometimes it was difficult to make out who was who in the photos. Both sides showed up wearing helmets looking for a fight. The photos were similar to photos of Nazis and Communists street fighting in 1930’s Germany. However, the driver charged with 2nd degree murder, should have the book thrown at him for escalating the violence to a new level. Let’s keep the first Amendment though as it also allows BLM and Antifa folks to say whatever they want. While “Congress shall make NO law… abridging the freedom of speech”, here is a First Amendment caveat you might like. The First Amendment only guarantees “PEACEFUL assembly”. There is no guaranteed freedom of assembly when violence occurs.

  • Before reading this article yet, I just read the WP article on this same topic,


    I have been relentless in calling Trump a modern day Hitler wannabe. Is there not a single day that I have not called Trump a fascist? Here we are with people calling Trump: “Heil Trump”. Trump did not condemn them and when commenting on the woman, who the fascists / White Supremacists killed, did not use the word “I” to condemn the killing. He just gave lip service as he was ordered to do so.

    We have here in the U.S. a modern day fascist party in the offing, all because of “Bernie or Bust” and a huge number of misogynists, people who feel that a woman’s place is not as President.

    • Marina Curtis

      A huge number of people did not vote. I blame them. I was a Bernie person, but voted Clinton to not have Trump. What a mess.

      • Thank you for the reply and honesty. For every one of you, a Bernie supporter, who voted for Hilary, there were hundreds to thousands, who either did not vote, voted for Trump, or voted for someone else, such as that Green Party lunatic. That is why we have Trump and the GOP at all levers of power.

        Did you vote for the other offices (House, state, etc.)? Did you vote all Democratic?

        I am not sure, but by the way you talk, it would seem that you did not donate time, money, and effort to elect Hilary and make sure to not have the GOP and Trump. That too cost the election.

        We cannot get complacent. There are special elections in 2017, which we lose, some win, but quite a bit lose. There is 2018, and obviously 2020.

        Democrats must fight tooth and nail from here on out. The focus cannot be a war among ourselves. We cannot let Republicans dictate how we feel about our candidates, such as the brainwashing done against Hilary and probably will happen against Elisabeth Warren, if she runs. Bernie will get labeled a communist.

        Keith Olbermann said it best: Resist, Peace

      • Marina Curtis

        Hawaii is/was 80% Bernie. I did not prefer Hillary at all. And, I think the Dems made a huge mistake in placing her. I did vote Democratic across the board when it was down to Trump. So you are correct, I did not give time or money to the HC campaign. Bernie speaks what I want. None the less, I agree, that at this point, no one can be complacent. And I also note, that so far, most democrats still have not figured out how to look like winners to people who seem to prefer snake oil and abundant ignorance. Brainwashing works, has become my new motto. I do my best to stay connected to others who speak intelligently and share prolifically, which is why I no longer have friends or family. Coming from AZ, I’m not welcome home any more. I’ve lost so many friends and family members this year that I’m on my knees. So I’m not a total deadbeat. Not political either, but I abhor injustice and hatred and intentional ignorance, so I appreciate the kick in the ass.

      • I can sympathize, as my position, really the only position, as the opposite is the mafia, fascism, and the like on the right, has not won me friends, even here in California.

        I had one friend, who voted for Trump and the right and that friendship went. Politics entered family too. Sadly, the right has taken such a severe turn towards criminality and everything else evil that they, not the left, have caused families and friendships to break apart. I keep hearing that. Even Allen said that. Sadly, politics does enter family and friendships. Maybe, Trump and the right did a good thing here. At least, everything is in the open.

        Brainwashing works depending on the person, mostly on the right. I do not believe in any brainwashing. I am against it, even for good. The solution is not brainwashing by the left, but rather education and getting people to understand that there are no quick fixes and to see snake oil salesman for what they are, scum.

        By the way, Bernie and the right did a marvelous job of brainwashing the left against Hilary. Hilary was second for a single payer system, right after Jimmy Carter.


    Haven’t you noticed Trump admires Thugs.

  • Mady

    Although Trump has not yet condemned his base of alt-right racists and their old fart KKK cohort–the news today suggests his willingness to sacrifice–to save face–his closest, but now terribly bloated, wretched looking, disheveled bleary-eyed fascist “adviser”–his own main alt-right hand man–Steve Bannon.

  • Kenneth H Cohen, MD

    Trump is accusing “all (sides)” of us who condemn racism, anti-Semitism, intolerance for LGBT, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrants, etc as bigots and a hate group. We are bigoted and a hate group for finding nativists, white supremacist, Nazis, KKK, etc as sowing seeds of destruction to our culture and undermine our collective conscience.
    This twisted thinking reflects the “mainstreaming” of the alt-right strategy. They are victims as well! Trump is now out of the extremist closet and dangerously escalation the dog whistle rhetoric of the alt-right.

    Trump is accusing “all (sides)” of us who condemn racism, anti-Semitism, intolerance for LGBT, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrants, etc as bigots and a hate group. We are bigoted and a hate group for finding nativists, white supremacist, Nazis, KKK, etc as sowing seeds of destruction to our culture and undermine our collective conscience.
    This twisted thinking reflects the “mainstreaming” of the alt-right strategy. They are victims as well! Trump is now out of the extremist closet and dangerously escalation the dog whistle rhetoric of the alt-right.