Donald Trump refused to call the deadly act of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia an act of terrorism, despite the fact that the incident – a driver plowing through a crowd of anti-racism, counter-protesters – is similar to previous acts of violence the president has eagerly called terrorism.
The video of the attack leaves no question that it was a deliberate act of terror:
Video of car hitting anti-racist protestors. Let there be no confusion: this was deliberate terrorism. My prayers with victims. Stay home. pic.twitter.com/MUOZs71Pf4
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) August 12, 2017
When Trump was asked if the attack was terrorism, he walked away:
Trump ignores reporters’ questions:
-Do you want the support of these white nationalists groups?
-Would you call this terrorism, sir? pic.twitter.com/szXVWQMXe5
— David Mack (@davidmackau) August 12, 2017
In the past, the president has been quick to call similar incidents terrorism, but the deliberate act of terror carried out on Saturday in Virginia – killing at least one and injuring 19 – received no such label from Trump.
The difference? Those fueling the violence in Virginia this weekend are affiliated with some of the same extremist hate groups who helped fuel Trump’s presidential candidacy last fall.
Nowhere was that more clear than in the remarks of former KKK leader David Duke, who said before Saturday’s white supremacist rally that the demonstrations were meant to help advance Trump’s agenda.
“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” Duke said. “We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.”
Trump’s refusal to call Saturday’s attack terrorism also likely stems from the fact that he is only comfortable condemning violence carried about by minority groups. Denouncing terrorism at the hands of white supremacists wouldn’t fit his narrative that America should fear only Muslims or Mexican immigrants or African Americans.
At one point during last year’s presidential campaign, to underscore how passionate his supporters are, Trump famously said that he “could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
With Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, it appears the reverse is also true.
A white supremacist could literally drive a car through a crowd of peaceful protesters, and Trump would still, as he did today, refuse to call it what it was – an act of terrorism.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.