Donald Trump still hasn’t condemned by name the neo-Nazis and white supremacists responsible for the violence in Charlottesville this weekend. On Saturday, he notoriously blamed the violence on “many sides,” then refused to take any questions from reporters, who shouted after him as he left, “Do you call that terrorism?” On Monday morning, the only reference to the attack on Trump’s Twitter feed was a condemnation of Kenneth Frazier, the African-American CEO of Merck, for stepping down from Trump’s manufacturing council.
Trump’s minions have tried to fill the void. On Sunday H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security advisor, went on NBC’s Meet the Press to affirm that “we can confidently call” the car attack on counter-protesters “a form of terrorism.” He then tried to cover for Trump, saying, “He condemned hatred and bigotry on all sides, and that includes white supremacists and neo-Nazis.” Mike Pence took a similar line, saying that Trump “clearly and unambiguously” spoke out against white supremacists, before adding his own “many sides” spin: “The president also made clear that behavior by others of different militant perspectives are also unacceptable in our political debate and discourse.” Ivanka Trump tweeted the following on Sunday:
On Monday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions described the car attack as an “evil attack,” and declared that it met the definition of domestic terrorism. (Sessions, who has a long history of being accused of racism, is probably one of the least credible people on this subject.)
But even if Trump were to come out today and powerfully condemn the white supremacists in Charlottesville, it still wouldn’t matter. Trump’s silence thus far isn’t complacency—it is a form of terror in and of itself. Nothing he says will make up for the racism that he has spewed over the past two years or the fact that he has appointed white supremacists (Bannon, Miller, Gorka) and complicit white supremacists (everyone else in Trump’s team) to run the country. McMaster, Sessions, Pence, Ivanka—they are all part of the problem. And that problem is Trump.