News & Politics

Is Donald Trump a Nazi Sympathizer?

At the very least, he's made clear he has a real soft spot for white nationalists.

Photo Credit: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock

While Americans have been polarized over many issues in over the last 70 years or so, if there was one thing we could truly say was a consensus position among people of all political stripes it was that Nazis were bad and that decent people shunned them.

Our president made it clear on Tuesday, once and for all, that he doesn’t agree with that.

Over the weekend President Trump had issued a very weak condemnation of the horrific events in Charlottesville, insisting that “many sides” were responsible for the violence. Forty-eight hours later, after tremendous public criticism, he came forward with an obviously insincere rote denunciation of white supremacy, Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. But he couldn’t leave it at that.

It’s clearly impossible for Trump even to pretend to condemn far right white supremacists with whom he obviously feels sympathy. So on Tuesday he turned around and held a press conference in which he once again condemned counter-protesters and insisted that all the “good people” who were simply protesting the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee had been treated abominably.

Rachel Maddow put together a voice-over of his comments with a montage of all those “good people”:

Here are Trump's remarks on the 'very fine people.'

And here's tonight's full A block: https://t.co/IB94xk67ut https://t.co/AxQ7hGqv73

— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) August 16, 2017

If you carried a torch with those Nazis, if you marched alongside them as they chanted “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil,” you are not a “very fine person.” You are, at best, a Nazi sympathizer. At worst, you are a Nazi. If you stood and chanted with men and women who wore hoods emblazoned with Confederate flags you are at best a KKK sympathizer, and certainly a racist. If you stand up for these people’s good intentions and walk in solidarity with their “defense of cultural heritage,” you are at the very least a fellow traveler in white supremacy, and more likely a white supremacist yourself.

Nobody marching with that crowd is a decent person. Nobody.

Trump made clear that he believes the Nazis who went on to the campus of the University of Virginia on Friday night are just regular folks with a legitimate grievance who were “innocently” protesting. This is the final proof, as if we needed any at this late date, that his ignorance knows no bounds.

It’s probable that Trump has no knowledge of this, because he has no knowledge of virtually anything but his own press clippings, but neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the march, knew very well what image he was evoking with that march on Friday night  — Nazi torchlight parades such as this one:

It isn’t just that Trump has a woeful lack of understanding about why people would be appalled and upset at the sight of hundreds of white (mostly) men carrying torches and chanting Nazi slogans. He also portrayed them as good people protecting their “history” and their “culture.” That suggests his idiotic earlier comments about history, such as absurdly suggesting, “People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?” were a good reflection of his ignorance on the subject. (Remember that he also seemed to think Frederick Douglass was still alive.)

 

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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