White nationalists and neo-Nazis celebrated President Donald Trump’s remarks about the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday, in which he denounced violence “on all sides” rather than explicitly condemning white supremacism.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” Trump said at a press conference. “On many sides.”
Trump said that he had spoken to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and that they “agreed that the hate and the division must stop and must stop right now.”
The president went on to talk about how the US is “doing very well in so many ways,” and touted the recent jobs and unemployment numbers.
Many were quick to criticize the president for failing to denounce the “Unite the Right” rally held by white nationalists on Friday in response to a plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville.
The protests continued into Saturday and turned deadly when a car, allegedly driven by 20-year-old Ohio resident James Alex Fields, plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters. Fields was arrested and charged Saturday night with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and hit and run.
A Facebook page that appeared to belong to Fields featured alt-right memes like Pepe the frog, an image of Hitler as a baby, and a cover photo of soldiers with an American flag and swastikas.
“We should call evil by its name,” said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
“Very important for the nation to hear @POTUS describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists,” tweeted Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
“Praying for those hurt & killed today in Charlottesville,” tweeted Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. “This is nothing short of domestic terrorism & should be named as such.”
Several prominent white nationalists and neo-Nazis, however, praised Trump’s comments.
- Joshua Roberts/Reuters
The founder of the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist website that considers itself a part of the alt-right, celebrated the fact that Trump “outright refused to disavow” the white nationalist rally and movement.
“People saying he cucked are shills and kikes,” wrote the founder, Andrew Anglin. “He did the opposite of cuck. He refused to even mention anything to do with us. When reporters were screaming at him about White Nationalism he just walked out of the room.”
“Cuck” is short for “cuckservative” – a term used by the alt-right to describe white conservatives “who are participating in the displacement of European Americans,” according to white nationalist Richard Spencer.
When Trump tweeted earlier on Saturday that “we ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” Spencer, who attended both days of protests, replied:”Did Trump just denounce antifa?”
Antifa is short for antifascist organizations.
- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
“Clearly President Trump is condemning the real haters: the SJW/Marxists who’ve attacked our guys,” said one commenters on the far-right, pro-Trump subreddit called r/The_Donald.
“Marxist” and “SJW,” or social justice warrior, are terms frequently used by the far-right to describe liberals.
“So glad GEOTUS called this bulls–t out for what it really is,” said another commenter, using an acronym to refer to Trump that stands for “God Emperor of the United States.'”
“Trump comments were good,” said another Daily Stormer commenter. “He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides! So he implied the antifa are haters.”
The commenter continued: “There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about white nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
The White House did not respond to request for comment about whether Trump condemns white supremacy. But a ProPublica reporter asking the same question on Saturday was told only that the president “condemns all acts of violence.”
A commenter on the white nationalist website Stormfront, which describes itself as “the voice of the new, embattled White minority,” wrote that “some republicans want Trump to single out White Nationalists and put the blame on them for the violence of Antifa/blm.”
“Trump rejected that notion and talked about violence ‘from many sides,'” another Stormfront commenter replied.
Not all white supremacists celebrated Trump’s remarks, however. One Stormfront user said that “Trump has reached full-on cuck status,” and David Duke, the former “grand wizard” of the Klu Klux Klan, implied that Trump had betrayed his supporters.
“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror,” Duke tweeted, “& remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”