Trump blames violence by Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville on “both sides”


Donald Trump has caused outrage by claiming that “both sides” were to blame for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, when a far right extremist killed one American and left 19 injured.

Over the weekend, members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), neo-Nazis, and other white supremacists came together for a “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville to protest against a decision by the city to take down a monument to pro-slavery Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The group waved flags emblazoned with Nazi swastikas and other racist symbols and chanted slurs against Jews and other groups as they marched through the city.

Religious leaders from across the political spectrum and a variety of anti-fascist protest groups tried to block the march, and a number of scuffles and street brawls broke out. On Sunday, one far right extremist drove his car directly at a group of peaceful anti-fascist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others in what many people have described as an act of domestic terrorism.

Shortly after the attack, Trump made a statement blaming “both sides” for the violence. His statement was swiftly criticised politicians across the aisle, who called on the president to show leadership and condemn the white supremacists and far right extremists who caused the death of an innocent woman.

After two days of escalating tension, Trump finally revisited his statement and condemned the racism and bigotry shown by the white supremacists and the KKK at the rally.

However, just 24 hours later he appears to have taken back those remarks and has gone back to blaming “both sides” for the violence – both fascists and a group he described as the “alt-left”, a fictional group created by conservative commentators in an effort to deflect criticism of the self-described “alt-right”, which co-organised the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally.

According top a study by the Anti-Defamation League, of the 372 murders committed by domestic extremists between 2007 and 2016, 74 percent were committed by right-wing extremists, 24 percent by Muslim extremists, and less than 2% by left-wing extremists. The alt-left that Trump describes does not exist.

Trump campaigned on denouncing Islamic terrorism whenever and wherever it occurred, but after being elected with the support of the alt-right and its standard bearers like current White House chief strategist Steven Bannon, he appears unwilling to denounce far right terrorism and racial bigotry.

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