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Trump fails to condemn white nationalist violence in Virginia

A white nationalist rally — that included neo-Nazis, skinheads, members of the Ku Klux Klan — took place in the college town on Charlottesville in Virginia yesterday.

The Associated Press reports, “Saturday’s Unite the Right rally was meant to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The city of Charlottesville voted to remove the statue earlier this year, but it remains in Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park, pending a judge’s ruling expected later this month.”

After about two hours of clashes between the racists and counter-demonstrators, a car was driven into the counter-protest killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 26 other people.

The article adds, “In May, a torch-wielding group that included prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer gathered around the statue for a nighttime protest, and in July, about 50 members of a North Carolina-based KKK group travelled there for a rally, where they were met by hundreds of counter-protesters.”

Hundreds of white nationalists had also marched – carrying torches – through the University of Virginia campus on Friday night.

The racist groups Vanguard America, Identity Evropa, the League of the South, the National Socialist Movement, the Traditionalist Workers Party, and the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights were all reportedly at Saturday’s protest.

Yesterday, U.S. President Donald Trump commented, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

Trump did not specifically condemn white supremacists in his “violence on many sides” comment.

Toronto Star columnist Shree Paradkar observes, “On many sides. Which sides would those be, Mr. President, when there were just two: white supremacy — and equality.”

The neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer noted, “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. …No condemnation at all.” Former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke, who attended Saturday’s demonstration, stated, white nationalists were working to “fulfil the promises of Donald Trump”.

Civil rights icon Jesse Jackson says, “The ignorance and hate and fear and violence in Virginia is being fed from the top down. The incitement to violence is very apparently coming from the White House. …The president bears a major responsibility. You cannot create unhate with one tweet. The campaigns of fear and hatred and division has caught up with us and the end is not in sight.”

For more on this, please read this commentary by Paradkar.