Skip to main content

Just when it seemed like Donald Trump was capable of passing the lowest bar ever, when he finally said "racism is evil" yesterday after three days of refusing to acknowledge that the events in Charlottesville were caused by white nationalist neo-Nazis, he did a press conference today at Trump Tower where he went right back to his old position.

"I have condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white nationalists, by any stretch.  Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Excuse me - you take a look at some of the groups and you'd know it, if you were honest reporters (which in many cases, you're not) but many of the people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So, this week it's Robert E. Lee. I notice that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week...where does it stop?...

"You have some very bad people in that group...but you also have people who were very fine people on both sides. You have people in that group...I saw the same pictures that you had people in that group who were there to protest the taking down, to them, of a very, very important statue, and the renaming of a park."

Yes. You read this transcript of his remarks correctly. The President of the United States just said that there were also fine people among the Nazis and unhooded Klansmen marching this weekend. Just like those Mexicans who brought drugs, crime and rape to our country that he talked about in the very first speech of his candidacy.

Here's the video of the first part of his remarks, and then here's the second. 

This is so beyond the pale I don't even know where to begin. We know that our President is only capable of eating and playing golf, but it's incredible that he's incapable of being able to say that Nazis are bad...because some Nazis were good! Yes, James Fields was a good person, even though he had already been accused of domestic violence and cost Heather Heyer her life. Too hard for you to say her name, Donald? Easier for you to claim Nazis are just as bad as the counter-protestors, who are sick of seeing statues put up to intimidate them and their ancestors by white racists who glorified the Old South? 

Trump, although he identified with both parties at one point, represents the absolute worst of the modern Republican Party, and they have enabled him, in their cowardice, to get to this place where he can say "both sides" have a case in this awful situation. Since the creation of Fox News, when Rupert Murdoch turned "Fair and Balanced" into a catchphrase, the rules of debate in this country have been corrupted. We can see that at the end of Trump's remarks, where he equates the tearing down of the Lee statue with tearing down one of George Washington, another equivocation between two things that shouldn't be compared, and don't belong in this discussion. But by throwing it in, and suggesting that Lee can be compared to Washington, he distract us from the actual debate - should we tear down Confederate monuments? - just as saying that there were "good people" on both sides is a gross misunderstanding of the violence that took place in Virginia. 

Trump and the Republican Party don't understand that in order to have a debate, both sides have to agree on the basic existence of the issue they're debating. For us, Confederate monuments which were only erected to intimidate the black population of the South don't deserve to remain standing. But just as Republicans love to stymie scientists on TV by saying global warming is fake, they love to insist that Confederate statues shouldn't be a problem, and that the people who came to protest initially were protesting a "very important statue." Or that there were "good people' on the side of the Nazis and the Klansmen. Because both sides, remember? Fair and balanced?

Of course none of this is fair or balanced - it's a way to trick people into thinking they understand the issues. And the Republican Party has used this method to deceive their voters for so long that they aren't even aware they're doing it anymore. Trump is simply the ultimate mouthpiece for this style of rhetoric, and by equivocating both that Nazis have a point and that liberals are coming after George Washington, he's contributing to the dumbing down of our political culture and the inability to conduct an open exchange of ideas.