In his remarks about the Charlottesville protest violence on Saturday, President Trump said he condemned the "hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides," refusing to denounce the white nationalists who brought firearms and donned Nazi regalia to their planned rally. His speech sparked swift backlash, and quickly gave rise to "only one side" tweets that quashed Trump's weak Charlottesville remarks.
The president's comments weren't particularly surprising, considering his history of brushing off his support among white nationalists. During the election, Trump claimed he did not know anything about former KKK leader David Duke or the white supremacists who say they support him; in 2000, Trump cited his disapproval of Duke as a reason he decided not to run for president with the Reform Party.
But the violence on Saturday at what the Southern Poverty Law Center called "the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States" was different. White nationalists waved Nazi flags and chanted slurs at counter-protestors. They openly carried firearms and dressed in outfits that resembled National Guards uniforms. A car mowed down a group of counter-protestors, and killed one person. Dozens were bloodied and injured.
Many saw Trump's refusal to take sides as weak leadership, and declarations that there is "only one side" became something of a rallying cry for those willing to speak out as the president won't.
The violence in Charlottesville was a horrific event made worse by Trump's hollow statement. And in the absence of his stubborn refusal to denounce white supremacists, these tweets show that Americans had to pick up his slack. At the very least, the overwhelming response to his lackluster "many sides" comment indicated quite clearly which side of history the president has chosen to be on.