Nearly three weeks after widespread condemnation by media organizations and politicians of President Trump’s statements on Charlottesville, they are now saying the same thing he said.
Following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, which saw dozens of people injured and a 32-year-old woman killed when a neo-Nazi sympathizer smashed into cars at an intersection filled with a crowd of left-wing protesters, President Trump condemned the violent acts from both the far-right and the far left.
At a press conference at Trump Tower in New York on Aug. 15, Trump said multiple times that the neo-Nazis and white nationalists should “be totally condemned.”
But the president also called out the far-left Antifa extremist group, saying they had shown up without a permit and had violently attacked the other group.
“You see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats,” he said, describing them by their signature clothing.
In his comments, Trump also made a distinction between the violent extremists on both sides, and the people on both sides who had come to peacefully express their views.
However, his comments were quickly misrepresented by many media organizations and politicians as being an endorsement of white nationalists. Most of these media organizations selectively quoted form the president’s statement, omitting his strong and frequent condemnation of the right-wing hate groups.
One such example was an article published in the business column of The New York Times on Aug. 16, a day after President Trump gave his press conference. The article framed his comments as having only blamed the left for the violence.
The article read: “But then he reignited the flames at a news conference on Tuesday at which he blamed club-wielding members of the ‘alt-left’ for the Charlottesville violence.”
The New York Times later corrected the error and published a correction saying, in part: “He said there was ‘blame on both sides,’ including club-wielding members of what he called the ‘alt-left’; he did not say that group was solely responsible.”
The Times also had to run corrections on two other stories for incorrectly stating that the president had blamed “all sides” for the violence in his initial statement on Aug. 12 following the violence. In fact the president had said “many sides” were responsible. While the difference in wording is small, its meaning can be interpreted very differently. “All sides” implies everyone at the protests was responsible, while “many sides” leaves the possibility that not everyone one who attended the protests—consistent with other statements by the president—were acting violently.
The inaccurate media reporting quickly took on a life of its own, with politicians—both Democrats and Republicans—condemning the president.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement on Aug. 16 that Trump had suggested that there was a “moral equivalency between the white supremacist, neo-Nazis, and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer.” Heather Heyer was the woman killed at the protest.
This statement greatly distorts what the president said. Trump did not draw a moral equivalency between the two groups; he merely said both groups shouldered some of the blame for the violence.
When Trump was asked by a reporter during the press conference on Aug. 15 whether he was putting the “alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane,” he said:
“I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs—and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.”
Former Republican presidential candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney tweeted in response to Trump’s comments: “No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.”
A Different Tune
Fast forward three weeks and The Washington Post, after publishing dozens of articles critical of the president’s comments, published an opinion article on Aug. 30 headlined: “Yes, antifa is the moral equivalent of neo nazis.”
The column read: “There is no difference between those who beat innocent people in the name of the ideology that gave us Hitler and Himmler and those who beat innocent people in the name of the ideology that gave us Stalin and Dzerzhinsky.”
This comes from the publication that just two weeks earlier suggested that Trump—because he called out both sides—was sympathetic to those carrying Nazi flags.
As The Epoch Times pointed out at the time, President Donald Trump has shown great respect for Judaism, and accusing him of supporting the very ideology that saw an estimated 6 million Jews brutally murdered is shocking. Just several months ago, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of holiest sites in Judaism. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is an Orthodox Jew; his daughter, Ivanka Trump, converted to Judaism in 2009; and their children are being raised as Jews.
The column condemning Antifa also comes after The Washington Post attempted to explain and justify the use of violence by the extremist group in an Aug. 16 article headlined “Who are the Antifa.”
But following the violence in Berkeley on Aug. 27, numerous videos uploaded to social media show Antifa members violently attacking counterprotesters, who were not white supremacists, but peaceful Trump supporters and conservatives. The counterprotesters were beaten in their faces with fists, sticks, were pepper-sprayed, and had bottles filled with urine thrown at them.
The incidents put on full display the violent nature of the group which has openly called for violence against police and an end to the United States.
Since its inception in Germany in the 1920s as a front-group for the Soviet Union, the group has used the label of fascism to oppose anyone who does not support its communist ideology. To date the group is mostly made up of communists who see violence as a means to achieve their goals.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin called for the group to be designated as a gang following the violence.
“They come dressed in uniforms, they have weapons, they’re almost a militia,” Arreguin told a local CBS affiliate on Aug. 28.
House Minority speaker Nancy Pelosi also came out and condemned the group.
“The violent actions of people calling themselves antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted,” Pelosi said in a statement on Aug. 29.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe also condemned the violence in Berkeley, saying: “I denounce any individual who commits a crime, who commits violence on our citizens. We will get you, and we will arrest you, plain and simple. I don’t care what the group is.”
McAuliffe had previously ridiculed Trump for his similar statement on Charlottesville, claiming at the time that it was not “both sides.”
After weeks of public outcry for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to condemn the Antifa extremist group, he said through a spokesperson on Aug. 29 that Antifa are “left-wing thugs” and a “scourge on our country.” Ryan had previously criticized Trump at a CNN Town Hall for what he said was a “moral equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity” in condemning the Antifa group as well as the far-right extremists.
But much of the damage had been done by the time politicians and media outlets reversed course.
Tens of millions of Americans were bombarded with the false narrative that Trump was aiding white nationalists.
Tens of millions of Americans were led to believe that acts of violence by a far-left extremist group should not be condemned.
Ordinary Americans have been put on the defense and many are afraid to openly support the president for fears of being called a neo-Nazi.
Two White House economic councils had to be disbanded after CEO’s felt pressured to distance themselves from the president.
Magazines ran covers painting the president as boosting white nationalism. Last week’s cover of The New Yorker showed the president in a small boat with a KKK robe as his sail, and The Economist’s cover showed Trump speaking through a megaphone that looks like a KKK robe.
Trump himself reflected on the situation in a tweet on Aug. 29, by asking a question.
“After reading the false reporting and even ferocious anger in some dying magazines, it makes me wonder, WHY? All I want to do is #MAGA!,” he wrote in a tweet. That is, all he wants to do is make America great again.
From The Epoch Times
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