Why Is Trump Silent On Terrorism Caused By White Supremacists In Charlottesville?

Why Is Trump Silent On Terrorism Caused By White Supremacists In Charlottesville?

The president has described what happened in Charlottesville "terrorism" in the past. Why won't he call it that now?

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter this weekend that he stood against violence in all forms, responding to attacks perpetrated by white supremacists holding a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend.

One woman was killed and more than a dozen others were seriously injured when 20-year-old white supremacist James Fields Jr. used his vehicle to plow through a crowd of counter-protesters. The woman who died as a result was Heather Heyer, 32, whose mother said she attended the rally in part because she wanted to be a positive change for this world.

“She always had a very strong sense of right and wrong, she always, even as a child, was very caught up in what she believed to be fair,” Heyer’s mother Susan Bro said.

Trump’s immediate response to this attack was issued through social media site Twitter.

Trump has made additional statements about that attack, as well as about the deaths of two helicopter pilots who crashed and died during the events in Charlottesville.

One thing that was noticeably absent from Trump’s statements, however, was the condemnation of the specific group of people who violently attacked the counter-protesters, including one such attack where a black man was beaten by white supremacists with pipes in a parking garage during the event.

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Trump failed to describe the perpetrators as “white supremacists,” instead leaving it ambiguous as to who exactly he was calling out in his tweets.

The White House later updated Trump’s statement, stating, “of course [Trump’s condemnation] includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazis and all extremist groups.” Yet that statement was not said by Trump himself, and the president as of this press time has not made such a statement.

The coyness that Trump displays (on being unable to call something what it is) goes against his own rhetoric from the past. For instance, Trump talked a big game during his presidential campaign about calling terrorists “Islamic Radicals” when their motivations were driven by a perverted interpretation of that faith’s tenets. Trump even criticized his Democratic rival on the campaign trail for refusing to use the term herself. “Hillary Clinton…has no clue what radical Islam is, and won’t speak honestly about what it is,” he said last year.

But Trump won’t call these individuals who descended onto Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend “white supremacists” or even “racists.” He trots out his communications team to say it for him, possibly out of fear of upsetting a large portion of his voting bloc.

Trump also refused to call the attacks on counter-protesters “terrorism.” Yet when another individual in London did something similar, driving his vehicle into a crowd of people and killing a handful of innocent bystanders, Trump was fast to call it an act of terror.

What is the difference between these two events? The driver in Charlottesville was a white supremacist. The driver in London was Muslim. A white driver isn’t terror; a Muslim driver is, according to Trump’s supposed logic.

Others have rightly denounced the actions in Charlottesville for what they truly are. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

And Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) also called out white supremacy specifically. “White supremacy is a scourge. This hate and its terrorism must be confronted and defeated,” he wrote on Twitter.

Even members of Trump’s cabinet have called it terrorism.

These are voices from the right condemning the extremist and violent elements among them. So why can’t the president, the leader of our nation and the leading voice of the right, call out racists and white supremacists engaging in activities he’s called “terrorist” in the past?

It is bizarre behavior for this president to fixate on one form of terror and ignore another. And it raises more doubts than ever over whether Trump is committed to being a president for all Americans, and not just certain segments of our country.

An aide to Trump suggested over the weekend that the president didn’t call out white supremacists specifically because he didn’t want to “dignify” them. But at a time like this, it’s important to call out who is killing whom. White supremacy was responsible for the attacks, the death and injuries, that occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend. The president should rightfully call it out, and leave behind any more ambiguities about who was responsible.

UPDATE: In response to criticism of failing to acknowledge white supremacists in Charlottesville attacks, President Trump released a new statement on Monday, stating that, “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.” He still did not describe the vehicular attack as an act of terror.

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