President Donald Trump drew sharp criticism on Saturday for not singling out white nationalists when he condemned the violent clashes that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” Trump said at a press conference. “On many sides.”
He added: “It’s been going on for a long, long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”
Observers quickly latched onto Trump’s statements and slammed him for not explicitly rebuking the #UniteTheRight white nationalist rally that was called in response to a plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike were particularly critical of Trump’s lackluster condemnation:
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. -OGH
Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW
No, Mr. President, not “many sides.” There is one side with nazi flags and nazi salutes. America is not on that side. https://t.co/sDpFC9buIz
Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke out:
We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.
A number of other voices chimed in as well:
“On many sides” is the low point of a presidency that’s already had a record number of low points.
‘Many sides” is the gold medal of dog whistles.
To be clear: as a nazi rally turns deadly, the president devotes a few sentences to it, blaming “many sides,” and then changes the topic.
“Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough, whom Trump has frequently criticized on Twitter, also weighed in.
The list of things Donald Trump is too weak and frightened to criticize:
1. Vladimir Putin
2. White Supremacists
3. Neo-Nazis terrorists
“The violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of ‘many sides,'” tweeted Virginia’s attorney general, Mark Herring. “It is racists and white supremacists.”
Some Twitter users also called Trump out for lambasting former President Barack Obama for not using the term, “radical Islamic terrorism,” while he himself did not specifically denounce white nationalists in Charlottesville.
Awfully vague statement from the guy who was obsessed with politicians not specifically saying “radical Islamic terrorism” https://t.co/5oysCGVyhh
Trump spent campaign screaming how ya gotta call out and say “radical islamic terrorism.” Weird how he won’t call out white supremacy though
Donald Trump must respond as clearly and aggressively against these acts of white supremacy terrorism as he does radical Islamic terrorism. https://t.co/rjIDHv8Nih
Saturday’s demonstrations turned deadly when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters, resulting in multiple injuries and at least one death.
One witness had two friends who were hit by the car and had to take them to the hospital. The witness described the incident as “absolutely intentional.”
“A packed street and a car comes speeding down, at least 40 mph and rams into everyone, backs up and does it again,” they said in a text message to Outline staff writer William Turton.