Two days after President Donald Trump attempted to pull off the morally repugnant balancing act of making a statement on the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia while not alienating the white supremacists who worship him as an orange demigod, Trump took the podium at the White House earlier this morning. There, he said that a civil rights investigation has been launched into this weekend’s events, and did a thing that would have happened days ago under a president fit to hold the office. He said: “As I said on Saturday” (lol okay) ”we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of bigotry, hated, and violence. It has no place in America.”
He went on to say, “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 that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
But let’s not give ol’ Trumpy too much credit for doing the absolute bare minimum (after taking a moment to congratulate himself on how great the economy is, it should be noted) under immense political pressure, reportedly including from his own staff. Saying “Nazis are bad” is not the same as officially declaring them domestic terrorists, for example. Nor does it make up for his slashing of federal grant money to nonprofits dedicated to combating white extremism in the U.S., or for his lack of outreach to non-white groups in the wake of the attacks that left one anti-racist counter-protestor dead and dozens more injured, as Margaret Talev notes on CNN. And where’s the statement condemning the bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Minnesota on August 5?
Describing the DOJ’s investigation, Trump said: “to anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable.“ But with Jeff ”affirmative action is racist towards white people” Sessions’ Department of Justice involved, we remain pessimistic on which of the so-called “many sides” will ultimately be considered “criminal.” So while we’d like to think that even Donald Trump can be cornered into acting with the barest modicum of human decency, we’re also quite certain that one three-days-too-late statement doesn’t make up for a political career built on stoking the same irrational and unfounded fears that drive recruitment for white supremacist hate groups. Stay vigilant, everybody.