Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, talking to a Fox News panel on Sunday, praised Trump for condemning the horrific Charlottesville violence. At the same time, however, Gingrich criticized the president over his jarring failure to say the words “white supremacists.”
Yes, indeed: shades of Obama’s refusal to utter the words, “Islamic terrorism.”
Trump time and again slammed Obama for it, yet now he has done virtually the same thing with his Charlottesville statement.
Josh Levin, Slate’s editorial director, writes:
On Aug. 12, 2017, Donald Trump stood up at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and All Lives Matter’d a Nazi rally. “We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Trump said. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. On many sides.”
He then said those three words again — “On many sides” — as if to emphasize that this throwaway phrase was in fact the only bit of his short speech that he truly believed in. He did not talk about white supremacy, and he did not note the prevalence of racist chants. The troubles in Charlottesville, the president said, were everyone’s fault. Or, to put it another way, nobody in particular was more responsible than anyone else for what happened in Virginia this weekend. Not the president. Not the party that enabled him. Not even those who idolize Adolf Hitler.
President Trump was right about hatred and violence coming from “many sides,” but wrong — and incredibly insensitive — to blame “many sides” for the horror that unfolded at Charlottesville.
It wasn’t “many sides” that deliberately rammed pedestrians with a car, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others, five of whom are in critical condition. No, it was one of the white supremacist neo-Nazi protesters who perpetrated the atrocity.
And President Trump was wrong to equivocate about it.