Excusing its own violence while taking aim at Trump.
White nationalists gathered last weekend to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville, Virginia park. Violence ensued in clashes with counter-protesters. One white nationalist, consumed by his neo-Nazi hatred, rammed his vehicle intentionally into a group of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and seriously injuring others in his path. Two state troopers also died when the helicopter they were using to monitor the white nationalist rally crashed. The Trump administration took immediate steps to go after the perpetrators with the full force of federal law enforcement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department was treating the vehicle attack as an act of domestic terrorism.
Despite his administration’s rapid commencement of a civil rights investigation, President Trump came under heavy criticism for his initial comments Saturday on the Charlottesville violence for not specifically calling out the white nationalists as the primary cause of the tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville. Instead, he condemned in more generic terms “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” On Monday, in a statement issued from the White House, the president was more explicit. “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 what we hold dear as Americans,” President Trump said.
Leftists have exploited the tragedy to serve their own twisted political agenda. They used the two day interval between President Trump’s initial comments and his more explicit White House statement denouncing white supremacists to opportunistically paint the president as a racist and white nationalist sympathizer. While always ready to pounce on anything they think will prove President Trump’s white nationalist sympathies and delegitimize his presidency, the left – including the hate-Trump media – is in denial about the violence committed by the so-called “anti-fascists,” who practice their own form of fascism, and by black nationalists, who practice their own form of racism.
In an Atlantic article titled “The Rise of the Violent Left,” Peter Beinart described how leftists have threatened violence to get their way and have followed through when they deemed necessary. Beinart mentioned incidents in which leftists linked to the “antifa” movement (short for anti-fascist) violently disrupted events in fascist fashion at which conservatives were invited to speak on college campuses. At UC Berkeley, for example, a riot broke out to prevent Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart.com editor, from speaking. The embrace of such tactics is no longer confined to the radical left fringes. “Trump’s rise has also bred a new sympathy for antifa among some on the mainstream left,” Beinart wrote.
House Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California is a good example of the left’s double standard toward condemning violence, depending on its source. She wasted no time declaring that “President Trump’s failure to immediately denounce white supremacy is well in line with the unmistakable conduct of his Administration toward immigrants, Muslims, and communities of color.” She did not distinguish between peaceful protesters and the violent thugs. Yet when violence broke out earlier this year at UC Berkeley by leftists who prevented Yiannopoulos from speaking, Pelosi defended the protesters’ “right to free speech.” She did not strongly condemn the violence or the forcible denial of First Amendment rights to Yiannopoulos and the audience members who wanted to hear him speak. Instead, she tepidly noted, “If there is an infiltration of the crowd by those that are less than peaceful, that should be addressed.” If there is an “infiltration of the crowd”? It was more like a takeover by the violent left to prevent a conservative speaker from being heard.
Antifa anarchists use violence to stifle the right of free speech and assembly by their political opponents. They spew hate and are willing to use force to enforce their own extrajudicial code of morality. Yet the mainstream left is increasingly willing to embrace or at least tolerate antifa’s tactics, while condemning what they call “hate speech” and “domestic terrorism” on the right.
The left has also romanticized black nationalists, rather than see some of them as the racists they really are. One such black nationalist killed 5 police officers at an anti-police rally in Dallas Texas. Former President Barack Obama condemned violence committed both against police officers and by police officers at the funerals for the slain officers, avoiding the racist motive for the Dallas shootings by a murderer who said he wanted to kill as many white people as possible.
Joy-Ann Reid, host of AM Joy on MSNBC, could not bring herself to admit that there are violent elements on both the left and right ends of the political spectrum. She said during a panel discussion on last Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press” that “I think that both-sidesism doesn’t serve anyone well.” She refused to acknowledge the violence perpetrated by the left’s so-called “anti-fascists.” She accused the White House of harboring white nationalists.
Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for the Washington Post, accused the president of conducting “a candidacy that allowed right-wing hate to feel safe quarter and a presidency that lets it grow by pretending it’s not there. Trump, the man who is oh so quick to thunder against radical Islamic terrorism, always gets cramps in his Twitter thumbs, loses his voice or suffers amnesia when white nationalists are involved.” Capehart ignores that fact that Obama allowed radical Islamist hate “to feel safe quarter” and to let it “grow by pretending it’s not there” when he embraced the Muslim Brotherhood and refused to condemn Islamic terrorism by name.
The New York Times editorial board declared that it was “fiction” to suppose that the president “wasn’t placating white supremacists by responding so weakly to the neo-Nazi violence that killed” the counter-protester. “Mr. Trump’s fear of naming the source of Saturday’s violence sharply contrasts with his eagerness to call out Islamist terror,” the editors continued in their editorial entitled “The Hate He Dares Not Speak Of.”
After President Trump did indeed speak out on Monday against the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists from the White House, the New York Times ran a story claiming that he had “bowed on Monday to overwhelming pressure… after two days of equivocal statements.” It couldn’t even give President Trump some credit for clarifying his stance.
Notice how President Trump’s critics have turned his criticism of former President Barack Obama’s reluctance to specifically call out Islamist terrorists on its head. Their attempt to show inconsistency in President Trump’s handling of white supremacist violence and his criticism of Obama’s handling of Islamist terrorism is intellectually dishonest. The difference is that Obama never called out the source of Islamist terrorism during the eight years of his presidency. He used a variety of euphemisms to avoid confronting the evil of Islamist supremacism and jihad directly. It took Donald Trump only two days to call out the white nationalists’ racist violence in Charlottesville for what it was and to label it as “evil.”
President Trump interrupted his working vacation at his Bedminster New Jersey golf course retreat to return to Washington where he made his statement and conferred with Attorney General Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray. By contrast, Obama resumed his golf game during his Martha Vineyard vacation immediately after his brief statement condemning ISIS’s beheading of the American journalist James Foley in 2014. He said that ISIS “speaks for no religion” and compared it to a “cancer.” Obama’s deputy press secretary at the time defended Obama’s quick return to the golf course after his statement as “a good way for release.”
In Obama’s world, violent jihadists animated by their interpretation of Islamic ideology are simply “violent extremists.” The acts they commit are “workplace violence” or “man-made disasters.” The terrorists are molded, Obama said, in “a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.” We are supposed to understand them, and even empathize with their plight, rather than confront their evil in specific terms.
The New York Times editorial board excoriated President Trump for not at first uttering the words white nationalism in connection with the Charlottesville violence. Yet the editors simply could not abide by the Trump administration’s use of the phrase “radical Islam” in describing the hate ideology motivating the global jihad terrorists or President Trump’s criticism of Obama for not doing so. They supported Obama’s obfuscation while holding President Trump to a different standard. So too has much of the hypocritical left.
Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.