After a weekend spent equivocating on who, exactly, we should blame for the deadly violence that occurred when neo-Nazis and white supremacists descending on Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump on Monday afternoon finally did the absolute bare minimum: He called racists bad.
“As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence,” Trump said in a previously unscheduled statement to the press.
“Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists,” he continued.
It marked the first time since Saturday—when a rally to “Unite the Right” culminated in a white supremacist allegedly slamming a car into a group of protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and causing dozens of injuries—that Trump condemned white supremacists and their ilk by name.
After opening his remarks with a sunny review of our “now strong” national economy and the stock market hitting “record highs,” Trump also confirmed the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car wreck, and said that “anyone who acted criminally” in the the weekend’s “racist violence” would be held “fully accountable.”
It’s always worth remembering that as a candidate, Trump enjoyed the support of avowed white supremacists and neo-Nazis, including former KKK leader David Duke. His father, Fred Trump, was arrested in 1927 at a KKK rally in Queens. The president is also the product of a Republican National Convention attended by 80% white people and which, perhaps inadvertently, spotlighted a known white supremacist organization. And he has stocked his cabinet and the top ranks of his White House with racists and white supremacists.
“In times like these, America has always shown its true character,” the president said. For once, he might be right.