What the com­men­ta­tors said

The Week Middle East - - News -

Trump’s re­sponse to the Char­lottesville killing fits into an “ugly pat­tern”, said Matthew d’An­cona in The Guardian. Ear­lier this year, the pres­i­dent claimed to be “the least racist per­son”, but his record sug­gests oth­er­wise. In the 1980s, he backed a high-pro­file cam­paign for the death penalty for five black and Latino youths ac­cused – and later ac­quit­ted – of a mur­der in Cen­tral Park; he pop­u­larised the con­spir­acy the­ory that Obama was born in Kenya; and he has retweeted the mes­sages of white su­prem­a­cists. He seems per­fectly happy “to surf on the tide of white re­sent­ment” that swept him to power. His claim that “many sides” were to blame for the Char­lottesville vi­o­lence was no “throw­away” re­mark, said Josh Levin on Slate. He twice re­peated the phrase as if it was the only part of the speech that he “truly be­lieved”. The racists who chanted “Heil Trump” in Vir­ginia surely know they have an “ally in The White House”. What wor­ries me is their wider sup­port, said Jia To­lentino in The New Yorker. One strik­ing as­pect of the clashes in Char­lottesville was how the po­lice “stood calmly by” as armed men pa­raded through a quiet college town. “The mes­sage is sick­en­ing and un­mis­tak­able.” Black peo­ple an­gry at the mur­der of teenagers are “met with tanks and riot gear”; white peo­ple wav­ing Nazi and Con­fed­er­ate flags are “met with po­litesse”. The spec­ta­cle of uni­formed men march­ing un­der swastika ban­ners and flam­ing torches was in­deed “stom­ach-turn­ing”, said Me­lanie Phillips in The Times. But the other side are no in­no­cents. The anti-fas­cist “An­tifa” move­ment has a record of vi­o­lence and ri­ot­ing. Yet their be­hav­iour is rou­tinely “ig­nored, down­played or even en­dorsed” by the Democrats and their “me­dia acolytes”. In re­fus­ing to sin­gle out the white su­prem­a­cists for crit­i­cism, Trump may gen­uinely have felt that “both war­ring sides had un­con­scionable agen­das”.

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