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Trump’s Charlottesville Comments a “Telling Reflection” of How White Nationalist Rhetoric Grips GOP

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Unlike in 2017, no Republican voices are speaking out to denounce Trump’s latest comments on Charlottesville

Washington, DC — This week, Donald Trump tried to minimize the significance of the deadly Charlottesville white supremacist rally of 2017, referring to that horrifying weekend as “a little peanut…”

As Hannah Knowles highlighted in the Washington Post, “Trump’s comments were a remarkable framing of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which even some allies considered a low point in his presidency. White supremacists had gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in August 2017; the event featured former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke as a speaker. It turned deadly when a self-professed neo-Nazi drove his car into counter protesters, killing one woman and injuring dozens of people.”

The following is a statement from Zachary Mueller, Senior Research Director for America’s Voice:

“It’s bad enough that the leader of the Republican Party is again associating the party with the deadly white nationalism and antisemitism on display in Charlottesville and minimizing the murder that took place. But unlike in 2017, no Republican voices are speaking out to denounce Trump’s latest comments. The GOP’s silence is reflective of the full-throated mainstreaming of deadly white nationalist and antisemitic conspiracy theories aimed at triggering white resentment, like ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ lies and conspiracies, the Republicans now fully embrace. 

The 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville was a visible example of the ascendant white supremacist movement and many Americans’ first exposure to the ‘replacement’ theory that ties together virulent antisemitism and anti-immigrant sentiment. The deadly violence on display that weekend was horrifying and a preview of subsequent years of race-based political violence caused by those touting white supremacist conspiracies in El Paso, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and elsewhere. 

It’s not surprising that Donald Trump is again attempting to minimize the significance of white nationalism and Charlottesville, just as he did in 2017. But it’s sure a telling reflection that he’s no longer an outlier in the Republican Party of 2024 and that no one in the House, Senate or right-wing media environment dares respond even when he crosses these many redlines.”