On Saturday morning, a rapidly growing cultural tension from racist members of the alt-right came to a violent head. Thousands of white nationalists from disparate alt-right groups gathered in Charlottesville for a Unite The Right rally to protest the city's decision to remove a statue of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Following violent outbreaks, president Donald Trump made a speech that had people on Twitter furious.
In the hours leading up to the rally, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and urged constituents to keep their distance from the scene.
"In advance of (Saturday's) rally there have been communications from extremist groups, many of which are located outside of Virginia, who may seek to commit acts of violence against rally participants or law enforcement officials," wrote McAuliffe in a statement. "In the event that such violent or unlawful conduct occurs, I have instructed state public safety officials to act quickly and decisively in order to keep the public and themselves safe."
Throughout the morning and afternoon, white nationalist protesters marched with torches and chanted slogans such as "white lives matter" and "we will not be replaced by the Jews." While there were small gatherings of peaceful anti-racist counter-protesters, Trump's speech placed blame on "all sides" for the violence, refusing to single out the white supremacists.
Trump says "we all must be united" creates false equivalency. Racist speech causes harm. Response seeks justice. https://t.co/gEgGeQxXyE— Jonathan Smith (@JonSmithWLC) August 12, 2017
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides ― on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, it’s been going on for a long, long time," Trump said at a ceremony to reform the Veterans Affair health care system. "It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent .lives."
Understandably, Trump's unwillingness to directly condemn the gathering of thousands of white nationalists had Twitter on fire with critique. Here are just a few of the responses to Trump's speech.
Silence As A Nod Of Approval
By not calling out white supremacists, fascists and neo-Nazis by name, Trump gave em a wink and a nod — he has their back. #Charlottesville— Bill Madden (@activist360) August 12, 2017
Bringing It Back To Obama
Remember Trump blasting Obama for not saying "Islamic terrorism"?— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) August 12, 2017
Well, when will Trump call out "White Supremacists" in #Charlottesville?
Trump Ignores A Question
The Scary Conflation Of Antifa And The Alt-Right
Trump's half-hearted statement on Charlottesville where he refused to call out white supremacists was heard loud & clear by bigots. pic.twitter.com/a3vZgqxOnL— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 12, 2017
When White Nationalists Heil Trump
Getting Straight To The Point
Critiquing The Broad Way His Speech Could Be Interpreted
Trump denouncing hate but in such a way that you don't know if he's talking about white supremacists or the antiracists in #Charlottesville— jelani cobb (@jelani9) August 12, 2017
Pointing Out The Terrorism
How is the KKK Plowing through a crowd of protesters not considered a terrorist attack? Asking for a friend #charlottesville— Impeach Donald Trump (@Impeach_D_Trump) August 12, 2017
Pulling Up Old Tapes Of Trump
A Shout Out To Steve Bannon's White Nationalism
Trump didn't disavow the Nazi's, cuz he knows Bannon & Miller would be furious. Like & RT if think Trump should resign. #Charlottesville— Joe Negan (@mynameisNegan) August 12, 2017
A Nod To The Violent People In MAGA Hats
Of course Trump was vague in his tweet on which side to denounce in Charlottesville...— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) August 12, 2017
The violent ones wore his MAGA hats.
Calling The Rally Unpatriotic
March & rally in Charlottesville against everything the flag stands for. President Trump must condemn in strongest terms immediately.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 12, 2017
The KKK Gives Trump A Shout Out
Calling Out Trump's Voting Base
Trump needs to realize that 100% of the Charlottesville white nationalists voted for him and this is 100% his fault.— David Putnam (@davidmputnam) August 12, 2017
A Critique Of Trump's Tangent About The Economy
The world is ending, but Trump's gonna be good for the economy, right? #Charlottesville— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) August 12, 2017
Pointing Out How Trump's Presidency Emboldened Racists
There Are Nazis In The White House
Calling Out To Silent Representatives
Every Congressperson who fails to denounce the supremacists in #Charlottesville & who does not condemn Trump's silence, is complicit in hate— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) August 12, 2017
We are still waiting for Donald Trump to repudiate the racist sentiments that fueled Saturday's violent events.