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February 23, 2018
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USA: Trump flip-flops after condemning "white supremacists", now talks "left-wing terrorism"

16.8.2017 14:13
On 14 August 2017 around 100 people assembled at the memorial to those who fell during the liberation of Prague at the end of WWII to honor the memory of the 32-year-old American defender of the rights of minorities, Heather Heyer, who died after being hit by a car driven by an American neo-Nazi during a protest in Charlottesville, VA, USA on 12 August 2017. (PHOTO:  Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
On 14 August 2017 around 100 people assembled at the memorial to those who fell during the liberation of Prague at the end of WWII to honor the memory of the 32-year-old American defender of the rights of minorities, Heather Heyer, who died after being hit by a car driven by an American neo-Nazi during a protest in Charlottesville, VA, USA on 12 August 2017. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

US President Trump has once again commented on Saturday's tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now he is saying he believes both "left-wing" and right-wing groups are to blame for the violence during the protest by neo-Nazis and other white racists there against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

More members of one of his advisory councils have now resigned over these most recent statements. After three businesspeople resigned, the president of the biggest federation of labor unions in the United States, the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, and AFL-CIO deputy chief of staff Thea Lee have also announced their resignations.

Reuters reports that Trumka issued a statement lambasting Trump's tolerance for "domestic terrorism" and racism. These latest resignations from the advisory council were preceded by resignations of the head of pharmaceutical giant Merck, Kenneth Frazier, the General Director of Intel, Brian Krzanich, and the representative of the Under Armour clothing brand, Kevin Plank.

Other members of that council had previously resigned in connection with other controversial actions or declarations by Trump. The director of the Walt Disney company, Bob Igero, and the head of the Tesla company, Elon Musk, recently resigned because the USA withdrew from the Paris Accords on climate change abatement, which were agreed in 2016.

Good neo-Nazis

Trump has now said he believes "both camps" bear the blame for the weekend violence and that he believes there are "good and bad people" on both sides, an assertion he made before a group of journalists in New York. The Associated Press reports that Trump has reverted to his first commentaries about the deadly violence, for which he was criticized by many people.

In his initial reaction to the Charlottesville tragedy, Trump said responsibility for it lay "on many sides", but after strong pressure from the media and other politicians he expressly criticized neo-Nazis and racists on Monday. Among his most recent remarks made yesterday, Trump has now alleged that "left-wing" demonstrators "violently assaulted the other group".

Already during the weekend Trump was criticized for responding to the events too late. "The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was good, but you don't comment if you don't know the facts," Trump defended himself before alleging that the racial situation in the country has actually "improved" under his administration.

Reuters reports that the president also asked journalists whether statues of George Washington should be removed because he, too, had been a slaveholder. General Lee led the Confederate Army, which advocated for the preservation of slavery, in the American Civil War.

Disappointment for members of the extreme right

Trump's statement on Monday criticizing neo-Nazis and racists was disliked by members of ultra-right groups in the USA, with the main American spokesperson for those who believe in the "superiority of the white race", Richard Spencer, calling the President's statement a "boring absurdity". Spencer is credited with creating the appelation "alternative right", a blanket term referring to KKK members, neo-Nazis and racists, but did not participate in the unrest in Charlottesville.

Spencer claims to believe that responsibility for the consequences of that unrest, including the death of a young anti-racist demonstrator, lies with the local authorities and police who did not manage to maintain order. A neo-Nazi website called "Occidental Dissent" commented on Trump's Monday statement by saying "the President has abandoned whites".

The "alternative right", allegedly, can no longer support the President. "What Donald Trump has done is an unforgivable betrayal of his backers," the website posted.

David Duke, a former KKK leader, also reacted with disappointment, although relatively mildly. "President Trump, don't think, for God's sake, that you must say such things. It will not benefit you," Duke commented on Trump's Monday statement.

"The problem is that you're surrounded. You know these people. They want your scalp, they want to crucify you," said Duke, who was personally involved in the Charlottesville event.

After yesterday's statement by the President, however, Duke made no secret of his revived faith. "Thank you, Mr President, for your sincerity and your courage to speak the truth about Charlottesville and to condemn the left-wing terrorists from Black Lives Matter/Antifa," he tweeted.

Tragedy in Virginia

On Saturday the university town of Charlottesville became the scene of the strongest racist demonstrations in the USA in a long time. Hundreds of white neo-Nazis and racists protested against plans to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee from a local park.

The demonstrators engaged in altercations with locals who came out to criticize their neo-Nazism and racism. One of the white radicals drove a car into a group of such counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 people.

ČTK, adg, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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