Opinion: Why we, and Trump, must condemn white supremacists by name

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the “alt-right” with body armor and combat weapons evacuate comrades who were pepper sprayed after the “Unite the Right” rally was declared a unlawful gathering by Virginia State Police on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia (Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

It would be nice to be able to ignore the cadre of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and garden-variety bigots who marched and spewed hatred in Charlottesville Friday night and into Saturday. For starters, it would deny them the attention — oxygen for any political movement — they so obviously seek. But there are a few reasons we don’t have that luxury.

The first is that these rallies of racism seem increasingly intended to provoke physical clashes with counter-protesters, like the one that resulted in three deaths and 35 injuries Saturday. It is surely no accident that the rally took place, and was so violently countered, in a college town surrounded by a relatively rural area. Such a place has just the toxic mix of relatively young people to spark such a confrontation, both those inclined toward the sense of self-proclaimed victimhood that seems a hallmark of the resurgent white supremacists, and those who believe they have the right to take the law into their own hands by way of physically confronting the bigots. It happened earlier this year at Auburn University.

Lest anyone confuse the above for some kind of moral equivalence, let me set you right. As a rule of thumb, if neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan or any of their ilk are involved in a situation, they are the ones who deserve the first and largest share of the blame. The specifics of this incident reinforce that. While the marchers did obtain the city’s permission for their rally, everything about their actions — the torches (OK, tiki torches), firearms, verbal insults at passers-by, swastikas, etc. — points to a different kind of assembly than the “peaceable” ones protected by the First Amendment. There are many things wrong with the so-called “Antifas,” not least their unwillingness to let law enforcement alone deal with any problems the bigots cause. But to focus mostly on them is to blame the bull for charging when it sees red. The first step to stopping the bull is to stop waving the damn flag at it.

In fact, an equivalence is exactly what the white supremacists want. Remember what I said about victimhood? Blaming the Antifas, or giving them an equal share of the blame, allows the bigots to claim they were attacked for simply voicing their opinions — when, in reality, they set out to provoke such an attack. We must be clear-eyed about that if we are to neutralize all parties to this violence.

Which brings me to the other reason, and that is President Trump. Again, for clarity’s sake, let me say from the outset that I do not believe Trump himself is a white supremacist or a bigot. The problem is that these miscreants have attached themselves to him and he has failed — and arguably, refused — to separate himself from them.

Saturday’s mealy-mouthed statement from him illustrates the point. Trump condemned the “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” repeating those last three words — “on many sides” — for emphasis.

Now, as I said, the Antifas are a pretty nasty lot. But the president must be clearer about who was centrally to blame here — just as he has argued for countering radical Islamic terrorism by name. And his failure to do so is a failure to protect, among others, himself.

The context here is crucial. Just hours earlier on Saturday, and not for the first time, former KKK leader and failed politician David Duke invoked Trump by name to explain why he and the others were marching in Charlottesville (Duke’s comments appear beginning at the 0:25 mark):

The key part: “We’re 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, and that’s what they’ve got to do.”

You might argue it’s unfair and unfortunate that the likes of Duke would try to glom onto Trump (I suspect others will say Trump deserves it; litigating that argument is not my goal today). But if you are the president, and someone of Duke’s prominence is saying such things about you at a rally that spun so out of control that you had to address it at an event to honor veterans, you cannot give him the satisfaction of a statement that’s anything less than crystal clear in its condemnation of Duke and his comments. Period. To do otherwise is to allow creeps like him to set the narrative about your presidency — that actions like theirs are part of fulfilling your promises. Again, for Trump’s own good, he cannot allow that to happen.

But allow it, he has. Consider what the repugnant Richard Spencer had to say about Trump’s initial statement on Charlottesville delivered via Twitter:

and:

And here’s what a publication for the neo-Nazis had to say after Trump’s verbal statement:

That’s why saying “nothing specific about” the white supremacists was a mistake by Trump. The white supremacists themselves are telling him what it would take to put some distance between himself and them.

We know Trump is perfectly capable of biting words about those with whom he disagrees; he reminds us of that capability on a weekly, if not daily, basis. So there is no excuse for his not being precise now about Duke and the other marchers. If he simply hadn’t heard of Duke’s comments by Saturday afternoon, it beggars belief that no senior members of his administration have heard them by now. Better to be late in addressing Duke’s comments than not to do so at all.

ALSO: Read this personal reflection from my colleague, Monica Richardson: This is not my Charlottesville. Hate doesn’t win in my hometown.

Reader Comments 0

416 comments
hasako
hasako

 my Aunty Clara got BMW 3 Series Sedan from only workin on a computer... linked 

here.............www.decksky.com

TheRealJDW
TheRealJDW

Of course he took it back less than a day later...

bu22
bu22

*As has become my custom, I won’t add to his infamy by naming him here. If you want to know his name, it’s easy enough to find."  That is a quote from Kyle about the violent shooter in Virginia back in June.  And that is the right approach still with regard to violent haters.  They want attention.  There is no reason to call them out by name here in August.

Kathy
Kathy

Please remember many American soldiers died fighting the Nazis. And, families still mourn the loss of those brave soldiers. Hateful Nazi rhetoric is not amusing or welcome in this country.Its insulting to every soldier who every served in the military.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

As expected, the MSM does not shut up about Trump denouncing the right's hate groups even after he explicitly does so.

A pox on them all. 

bu22
bu22

http://thefederalist.com/2017/08/14/the-reality-of-charlottesville/  Kyle joins the "elite right."  Author lists nearly 30 overwhelmingly leftist protests that turned violent and gets accused of defending Nazis for stating facts.  "...What will divide the country even more though, is the fact that the right's elites in media and politics are rushing to concede this battle before it is even joined, without thinking about where it inevitably leads.  They are willing to trash the history of a portion of the nation in order to satisfy the American leftist elite, and they will eagerly run to fulfill that task in order to demonstrate how civilized they are...."

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Bookman is on his hypocritical high horse over there. This blog is starting to resemble Bookman's.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit


Oh no. God forbid Wingfield should speak badly of the dear leader.


Holding politicians accountable. A conservative principle down the drain with populist Trump in charge.

dahreese
dahreese

@SGTGrit @JohnnyReb I'll take your bait. 


Tell us what exactly is it that the Nazi, KKK and other same types want?

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

I think Kyle should belay this thread the Bookies have become not just absurd but boring. This topic is irrelevant since Trump's statement earlier.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

It should have been noted much earlier in this thread that the fringe group on the Left is huge, dwarfing that of the right.

What do you LibProgs have to say about that?

You gonna defend BLM, Antifa, New Black Panters, et al, or admit they are the fringe but driving your side of the debate? 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@McGarnagle 

Nothing is wrong with the phrase "Unite the Right" but when its used to unite the bunch of idiots in Charlottesville, then you run into the issue of equating ring-wing political view with them. 

Only if one allows themselves to be defined by others.

While the people in this video think white liberals are ignorant and racist, I would tag white liberals as patronizing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrBxZGWCdgs

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@FIGMO2 @McGarnagle


"Only if one allows themselves to be defined by others."


I think that's what Kyle and others are trying to do. Not allowing the nuts in charlottesville to defined their political ideology. Hence calls for Trump to do the same.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

Who here thinks Trump's condemnation was genuine?

Who here thinks he would have said anything absent the bipartisan uproar of the last few days?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Eye wonder

Most of us were satisfied with what he said Saturday.

It's you malcontents that are never satisfied.

What he said today was an attempt to try and please you.

Take it or leave it.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@JohnnyReb @Eye wonder

I figured you'd raise your had. Is that a scientifically sound "most of us" or the product of argumentum outofassum?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

DawdDad: "There is a clear and VERY distinct difference between "the Right" in a mainstream political context and groups like the neo-Nazis, KKK, etc"


Most of us understand this.  However, when so much of "the Right" deflect to "but BLM!" or "But whatabout. . ." the distinction gets lost. 


If everyone from "The Right" would immediately, whole-heartedly denounce "grops like the neo-Nazis, KKK, etc" without qualification or deflection, the message would be much clearer. 


However, we get things like "Look at how the LEFT  tries to make us look bad!" instead of just making a plain statement about those extremist who would use your party for their own gain. 


Me? If it was my party, I would denounce them loud and early and tell them that they are not what my party represents at all.   I haven't really seen that from much of "the Right" today. Makes me suspect that some of "the Right" really are actually willfully ignorant participants in the "alt-right"

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@LogicalDude 

Are you prepared to denounce BLM, OWS, The New Black Panthers and Antifa? I've seen many conservative posters condemn the tragedy the perpetrator and the fringe hate groups.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

If you seek perfection in humanity you are destined to be forever searching. "Eveyone"? Generally I assume people are not neo-Nazi's, KKK, or whatever, unless and until they demonstrate traits of this ill-ideology. I don't need "everyone" to stand up and shout this is deplorable, that is understood. We have a Constitution, laws, religions, etc.

The illogic in question herein is attrbuting active or passive support for this racial supremacy ideology to Trump (or worse), for nakedly political ends. Does not compute.

gotalife
gotalife

Instead of another do over demand his resignation gop cowards,.


Actions not words.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Kyle, you still around?

Take a read of your fellow Opinion writer Bookman's latest post.

As usual, he is not focused on the issue but solely on Trump.

Trump is evil, he caused it, the people that support him caused it, et al.

Bookman is a perfect example of why there is so much anger on the Right toward the Left.  He and his ilk invite it. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@JohnnyReb There is a clear and VERY distinct difference between "the Right" in a mainstream political context and groups like the neo-Nazis, KKK, etc. There is also an all-out political and mainstream media effort to link the two, as we witness in AJC/AP articles, op-eds, and blogger comments today. Don't expect that effort to subside, these forces are all-in committed to their tyrannical leftist ideology, regardless of who and what they ultimately destroy in the process.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb


Regardless of Bookman or anyone on the left. Trump did what is right. As MLK said: "The time is always right to do the right thing."

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@DawgDadII @JohnnyReb

Exactly, and the sooner those of us on the political right understand that, especially our elected representatives, the better.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@DawgDadII @JohnnyReb


"Unite the right". Isn't that what they were calling their rally? How many in "the Right" dis-avowed their use of this phrase?

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@FIGMO2 @McGarnagle @DawgDadII @JohnnyReb


Nope. So this issue cuts both ways. There are loons on both sides of political spectrum. Each political party has to decide if they want disassociate themselves from their batch of idiots.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@McGarnagle @DawgDadII @JohnnyReb 

What's wrong with "Unite the Right"? That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with White Supremacist fringe groups. There are many Black people who identify as right wing conservatives. It's the fringe groups both right and left that's the issue.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit @McGarnagle @DawgDadII @JohnnyReb


Nothing is wrong with the phrase "Unite the Right" but when its used to unite the bunch of idiots in Charlottesville, then you run into the issue of equating ring-wing political view with them. 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@DawgDadII @JohnnyReb good luck with that.  It took the President 2 days to reject a white supremacist group where one of the members rammed a car into a crowd of people.  He can go on Twitter and clear up any issues at any time.  


There is more than the left linking the two.  There are people in the White House who helped create this movement and are sympathetic (Bannon). If this isn't what you want from your party, you need to stop it.  Not the people on the left. Its your job to clean your house.  That's what Kyle has been telling you guys for month's now. 

HDB0329
HDB0329

@DawgDadII @JohnnyReb ..problem is that we CAN link the alt-right to the GOP and the mainstream conservatives!!


Until things change....that linkage will remain.....

MarkVV
MarkVV

The standard MO of the Trump supporters: Deflect any criticism of Trump by pointing to something real or invented that Obama of Hillary did or did not do.

It is pathetic. Today’s issue is quite simple: President Trump failed to show courage to denounce clearly and specifically the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other racists and bigots rallying in Charlottesville. Whether he failed to do it for political reasons, his own convictions or anything else may be subject to endless speculations, but those do not change the essential fact. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@MarkVV

Nope, he denounced it almost immediately.

Would you have been satisfied if he had immediately stated condemnation of the neo's, KKK, et al AND the Antifa, BLM, et al that also deserve condemnation?

Or, are you confident the only blame is on the Right?

MarkVV
MarkVV

@JohnnyReb @MarkVV A pathetic lie. Trump he did not condemn clearly and specifically the groups that rallied in Charlottesville.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@JohnnyReb @MarkVV Another idiotic comment. Why don't you spell out the specific groups Trump did condemn for rallying in Charkottesville in his initial comment?

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@JohnnyReb @MarkVV 

No reading problem. He's among the far-left fringe group. Many of them have come over from the Bookie's blog. 

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Better late than never you say Kyle?  Nope, your article hit the nail on the head.  After the fact only fueled the fire. He did nothing to help!

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@AnsweredTHIS

Fueling the fire has come from the Left, not the Right.

Yes, you and those like you.