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.