On Saturday, a coalition of far-right Trump supporters held a rally that eventually climaxed in an act of terrorism, killing counter-protestor Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more. Among the potato-faced hordes of high undercut, polo-wearing fascists were members of the KKK, self-professed Neo-Nazis, sardonic ”alt-right” internet kids, “proud boys” and men’s rights activists, and other assorted white nationalists, a coalition that cohered initially to support Donald Trump’s candidacy.
And so it is not exactly surprising that Donald Trump has failed, over the course of two days, to condemn these literal Nazis and terrorists—they comprise a sizable portion of his base, and he is surrounded by Breitbart execs that gave many of them a platform in the first place—even if it is appalling on a fundamental level. This isn’t so much a new low for the president as it is the steady and direct progression of the racist rhetoric he ran on, the logical endpoint of his ironclad cosmology, in which supporters of any stripe are good and opponents are bad and that’s it. While politicians on both sides, including cabinet members and that old moderating influence Ivanka, have condemned the terrorists’ actions and named them specifically as self-acting racists, Nazis, and white nationalists, Trump himself has remained cagey on the subject.
He first ran away from the question on Saturday:
Then released a tepid, anonymous statement, a strangely equivocating act in light of such obvious evil. The maker of the fucking Tiki torches held by the aggrieved white mobs was even able to take a strong stand:
And the CEO of pharmaceutical company Merck withdrew his name from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council in light of the president’s ongoing inability to, you know, condemn the racist perpetrators of an act of terrorism.
All of which, at last, inspired the president to act. With the sort of impulsive decisiveness and straight-shooting vehemence that he made his name on, in the early hours of the morning, Trump finally issued a statement—
—condemning the Merck CEO. He even used his name, too. Where the 45th president stands on actual fucking Nazis and domestic terrorists remains a slightly thornier issue. There are many sides, etc.
UPDATE: Two days later, he found time to condemn Nazis. Baby steps.