The fact that neo-nazi Trump supporters have committed a murderous act of terrorism should come as no surprise. Trump has pandered to the alt-right movement that includes many neo-nazis and white supremacists. They not only helped to get him elected they form the militant core of his base.
On Friday August 11, neo-nazis held a torch-wielding protest at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. As they marched through the campus they screamed hate speech and hurled racial insults. This was followed on Saturday August 12 with a white supremacist rally where a neo-nazi terrorist attack killed one and injured more than a dozen others.
The alt-right rally in Charlottesville used the slogan “Unite the Right” but the hundreds
who assembled for this event could have just as appropriately come
together under the banner “Unite the Whites”.
The rally was organized by white nationalists and neo-Nazis. When they were confronted by anti-racist protestors one of the nazi terrorists used his car as a weapon in an ISIS style assault. He succeeded in killing one women and injuring 19 others. In response the FBI has opened a civil rights investigation.
The baton wielding fascists carried swastikas, Confederate
flags, and iron cross banners. They came ready for combat. The self described nazis were decked out in military gear
including helmets and flak jackets. They used riot shields and batons to strike those who were there in support of equality.
President Trump has been resoundingly criticized for emboldening fascist groups and creating the conditions that lead to violence. Trump’s tepid initial response to the flagrant act of neo-nazi terrorism in Charlottesville has also be criticized. It would appear that he does not want to call-out white supremacists for fear of alienating his base.
While on vacation at his golf club in New Jersey, Trump called for law and order and referenced the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” seemingly including those who support democracy and equal rights alongside the hateful displays of the white supremacists. A number of Republicans have decried the moral equivalency inherent in the president’s remarks. Even arch-conservative Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Charlie Rose that there is no moral equivalency.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe tried to manage the situation by declaring a state of emergency. While Trump was conspicuously silent, McAuliffe said to white supremacists: “Go home, you are not wanted in this great commonwealth, shame on you.” This left many asking why Trump criticizes everybody except far right nationalists and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While the armed neo-nazis and white supremacists claimed they came to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General
Robert E. Lee, their real agenda was to make their voices heard from the
heart of what was the racist south.
The rally was organized by groups like the KKK and people like the white supremacist and founder of the alt-right movement Richard Spencer. Former Grand Dragon David Duke was also in attendance.
There have been other white supremacists rallies in Charlottesville. Ku Klux Klan members recently held a rally in Justice Park. Extreme nationalist groups love the symbolism of Charlottesville due to
its confederate history. However, they have very little support from the
people of Charlottesville who overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton
in the 2016 election.
After three days Trump finally felt begrudgingly compelled to condemn the KKK, neo-nazis and white supremacists. Although he reluctantly read the right words his belated check-in with reality appears to have come too late to appease the ire of many Americans. The Times described it as “pure artifice” and Ana Navarro summed up the sentiments of many in a tweet: “If Trump had given speech like this on Saturday, we’d have commended him. On Monday it does nothing for me. Zero. I suspect, I’m not alone.”
Trump’s epic unpopularity and the ongoing investigation into his misdeeds means that he needs the alt-right now more than ever. The sad truth is that Trump and the alt-right are locked in a diabolical union that can’t be undone. Charlottesville may very well prove to be the opening salvo in a looming civil war.