This is not a “hoax”. Trump’s “really good people” in Charlottesville did not exist.
It’s been five years since neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia for their deadly “Unite the Right” rally. It also means that it’s been five years since then-President Donald Trump said there were “some very good people” on both sides of the conflict this weekend, meaning the neo-Nazis and their allies on one side, and everyone else on the other. The other.
“But wait!” said the galactic brain against the current. “Trump ACKSHUALLY condemned neo-Nazis in plain language! He was referring to the other the people, the regular people who were there to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
This contortion of reality has been cemented in the minds of MAGA supporters and many heterodox anti-awake commentators, who deliberately ignore loads of context in order to make Trump’s words sound benign.
The right-wing YouTube channel PragerU released a video titled “The Charlottesville Lie“, (which was retweeted by Trump), and another titled “The myth of the “very good people” of the media”. Dilbert’s Trump-supporting guy, Scott Adams, has repeatedly pushed him on Fox News and to his own audience on social media and YouTube. Right-wing provocateur Candace Owens has also spearheaded her disinformation efforts. Trump’s 2020 campaign has made this a huge issue. Fox News host Greg Gutfeld went from condemning Trump’s post-Charlottesville statement in 2017 to declaring in 2020 that the outrage of ‘fine people’ is a ‘hoax’ that has been ‘debunked. “.
Even Sam Harris, a social liberal who hates Trump, has repeated the trope “Very good people were a hoax created by the media” on both his own podcast and others.
They all insist that the transcript of Trump’s full comments to the press on August 15, 2017 proves that he repeatedly condemned neo-Nazis, just as he had the day before when he said they should be rejected, alongside antifa (or as he put it, the “alt-left”). The “fine people” he was referring to, they say, were the peaceful protesters demonstrating against the proposal to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Market Street Park.
In short, the truthers at The Very Fine People insist, Trump clumsily laid the blame for the weekend’s deadly violence “on many sides,” but he blamed the Nazis, so leave him alone.
Here’s the thing: There’s virtually no evidence that anyone was there that weekend as part of a totally non-racist, pro-Robert E. Lee “ordinary people” squad.
Despite Trump’s insistence that the people who organized the event “did not consider themselves neo-Nazis”, the weekend was heavily promoted as an image-laden, alt-right event manifest Nazis. Beyond their ads, words and deeds, there have been months of high-profile legal machinations between the city and the white supremacist organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally.
The organizers made it clear that it was a gathering of racist, anti-Semitic and neo-fascist groups. The status issue was incidental, and it’s barely mentioned in rally ads (when it’s been mentioned at all.)
Now, if you want to completely bend over backwards and play devil’s advocate to a degree that is both infantilizing and dishonest, you can make these hypothetical arguments:
1.) Trump is almost always inconsistent, and it’s unfair to take the words of the most powerful person in the world at face value.
2.) There were “very good people” marching for a common cause with overt Nazis at an event openly promoted as a Nazi event, but that doesn’t make them Nazis or even Nazi sympathizers – what do you do , “GUILT BY ASSOCIATION”???
3.) Perhaps Trump was confusing the neo-Nazis involved in Saturday’s bloodshed with the “peaceful” pro-statue protesters the night before? (You know, the ones who carry tiki torches while chanting “Blood and dirt” and “Jews won’t replace us.”)
4.) His confusion is irrelevant. He made it very clear who *he thought* he was excluding in his remarks about “good people” (whether those people actually exist or not).
In fact, the latter is not hypothetical. This is a direct quote from Sam Harris tweet– in which the supposed shade manifests as hopeless obfuscation.
So is there any evidence, at all, of pro-Lee statue protesters in Charlottesville this weekend who weren’t openly neo-Nazis, fascists, or any other flavor of right-wing extremist?
PragerU’s video, viewed millions of times on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, cites a single source of a New York Times article – a woman who says she came with a “conservative” group to protest the removal of the statue but had no common cause with the Nazis.
“At best, the “fine people” who existed in Trump’s imagination would have marched alongside obvious scumbags — those carrying Confederate flags and an assortment of flashy Nazi swag — yelling at Jews. controlling the world and threatening violence.”
This woman, the Time neglected to point out, was actually part of the “American Warrior Revolution,” a paramilitary group that came to Charlottesville armed to the teeth to act as “peacekeepers,” but only in service of the Nazis. In an interview with a pro-Trump site (presumably with far fewer resources than The New York Times), the woman admitted that her group wanted to “talk to Antifa and Black Lives Matter and let them know that the way they’re protesting is not the right way to go about it.”
It’s also, frankly, utter bullshit to blame the outrage over Trump’s “very good people” comments as some sort of “liberal media” concoction. Condemning the Nazis, unequivocally, is the easiest layup ever — and Trump couldn’t do it. He had to create “very good people” in order to cover the lines of responsibility.
For the record, I don’t really believe Trump is pro-Nazi. However, I believe that, like many on the right, he is much more bothered by ‘canceled culture’, ‘antifa’ and ‘Marxists’ than by Nazis, which the MAGA right considers a statistically insignificant anomaly and not like the apotheosis. of an intolerant, illiberal and bigoted movement that Trump inspired (alt-right leader Richard Spencer was certainly inspired by the MAGA movement).
As Tim Murphy wrote in Mother Jones“There was a reason why David Duke immediately thanked Trump for his ‘honesty and courage’ afterwards. There’s a reason why so many Republicans who otherwise had Trump’s back felt compelled to criticize him at the time.Trump “got it wrong,” said then-House Speaker Paul Ryan.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement saying “he doesn’t ‘there are no good neo-Nazis.’ Sen. Tim Scott (RS.C.) visited the White House to explain to the President why Trump’s comments were “painful”.
Even Trump’s stalwart bootlicker, Senator Lindsey Graham, said the speech made white nationalists and other extremists believe “that Mr. Trump is sympathetic to their cause.”
Are all those Trump loyalists and Republican bigwigs liberal Hillary-bots watching MSNBC? Or were they reacting to what was happening in plain sight?
At best, the “fine people” who existed in Trump’s imagination would have marched alongside a host of obvious scumbags – those carrying Confederate flags and an assortment of flashy Nazi swag – shouting against Jews controlling the world and threatening violence.
If you’re marching in public for a common cause with real Nazis, because you love that statue of Robert E. Lee so much, are you really a very good person?
Generously, you would be called a “Nazi sympathizer”, although “Nazi ally” would be more accurate. Either way, you would have chosen the side of some of the most disgusting people in the world, all to protect a monument to a traitor and a loser.
There is not a word about these “very good people” in the nearly 200-page independent report on that terrible weekend in August 2017. And Robert Tracinski, a conservative writer for The Bulwark, wrote: ” I live in the Charlottesville area, and I know some very good people who oppose the removal of monuments based on lofty notions of preserving history. I’m one of them. So I know we We weren’t there that night, only the white nationalists were there.
Tracinski added: “What really gives the game away is when Trump insists that the ‘fine people’ who were there to protest ‘had a permit’. There was only one permit. protest issued over the weekend, and it was well documented because there was a court battle over it.
Crediting Trump with condemning neo-Nazis, while excusing all the other lies he told at that fateful post-Charlottesville press conference, is no different than the tortured argument that while Trump incited a mob violence to ransack the Capitol on January 6, he did say they should march “peacefully” – therefore he cannot be blamed for what happened.
Trump needed to believe there were “very good people” out there, just as he needed to add a false level of nuance to a situation that had none. Presenting his comments as non-scandalous — and simply a liberal media creation — is gaslighting. It’s a shameful lie.