Since the deadly gathering in Charlottesville, where torch-wielding neo-Nazis faced off against counter-protesters, the president has pinned blame for the bloodshed on “many sides.” During a press conference on Tuesday, Trump drew false equivalence between a non-existent “alt-left” and the pathetic aberrations who terrified a city, senselessly beat a man in a parking garage, and rammed a car at high speed into a crowd.
With CEOs speeding away from the president’s orbit, tech companies scaling up efforts to ban white supremacists from their platforms, and the parents of identified Unite the Right attendees denouncing their own children for their indefensible actions, the true face of Trump support is no longer able to blend into a crowd of cowardly sympathizers and political apathetics. The loudest voices left on the “Trump train” are the ones who still feel emboldened by his refusal to unequivocally condemn an angry mob which was reportedly shouting slogans like “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”
So who still supports the words of a man who claims not to have an adequate understanding of the “the facts” around a rally which forced the governor of Virginia to declare a state of emergency? What possible stooges has Trump not humiliated publicly to the point where they’ve pulled support?
Some are obvious, like the forum members of The Purity Spiral, a “100% white, 100% pro-white” website which has become a sanctuary for Daily Stormer users after that site’s domain registration was revoked by both GoDaddy and Google. “What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? Do they have any guilt?” one user posted, quoting the president. Another responded, “Did Trump really say that? If so, bravo.”
The same user later wrote in stunned excitement: “He actually defended the previous night’s torchlit rally, that’s pretty amazing.” In the same thread, Purity Spiral users rushed to find videos that could support their “violent left” narrative, heartened to have the tacit support of this country’s commander-in-chief, even though footage shot by VICE News show clearly that the vehicle belonging to James Fields Jr. was not being attacked in any way before he sent it careening into a crowd, injuring many and killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal.
Despite efforts to crack down on white supremacy, chat client Discord has plenty of servers sympathetic to Naziism. In one such server named “14 Words” after the white nationalists slogan, a user interpreted the president’s remarks as having “defended us and condemned Antifa!! Holy shit!!!!!” A Discord spokesperson told Gizmodo that “we aren’t sharing any more details or information about any server or individuals we have banned.”
Several servers are taking active measures to avoid detection and bans. Others are accepting users from white supremacist servers which the platform has already closed. The Ethnoserver, for instance, is accepting displaced Nazis who were once part of the Altright.com server, one of the first to be shut down. Another Ethnoserver moderator wrote in an announcement post that “We are here becaue (sic) this past weekend, the jew saw the power of whites united without petty infighting. They are terrified.”
But those who feel like months of dog whistles from Trump are rising into full-throated support of white nationalism aren’t limited to the far corners of the internet. On Twitter, former Imperial Wizard of the KKK David Duke—a man Trump claims he did not initially know was in attendance at Unite the Right despite seemingly spending every waking moment on Twitter—thanked the president for his decision to “condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.” Jack Posobiec—a serial fabulist and one of the spineless pro-Trump Twitter celebrities who pushed the Pizzagate narrative which ended with a gunman shooting inside a pizza parlor—wrote that Trump’s remarks were “making it rain red pills,” a term borrowed from The Matrix to denote one’s indoctrination to far-right thinking.
Ann Coulter, of course, applauded Trump’s refusal to be cowed by the “left-wing media narrative” without expounding on how partisanship can change the interpretation of being hit by a speeding car. Meanwhile VDare—the anti-immigrant white nationalist website which Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler wrote for several times—tweeted “shitlib journalists BTFO,” a mind-numbingly stupid acronym popular in these spheres which stands for “blown the fuck out.”
Not to be outdone, supplement salesman and Trump sycophant Alex Jones has pushed the narrative that the entire event was staged—a ludicrous and stunningly callous tactic he first employed to “explain” the Sandy Hook massacre—saying during his show on Sunday that he believes many of the Nazis in attendance were “Jewish actors.” Jones is, among other things, credited with popularizing the Trump campaign’s unofficial slogan, “Hillary for prison.”
Unsurprisingly, 4chan and 8chan’s “politically incorrect” boards glommed onto the news as a sign their dear leader indeed still loved them.
This is the game changer right here. DJT just stood up for all of those good men who’ve been slandered in the media the last 4 days. Yes, there were some bottom feeders there, but Trump knows there were good people there too. And he knows they were there to defend our history, heritage, and our traditions.
Presumably the “good people” were the ones merely brandishing torches, wearing the insignia of racist organizations, and corralling and menacing counter-protesters, rather than assaulting them. For regulars of Reddit, r/The_Donald has been a parasitic presence which has been a near-constant source of abuse, hate speech, and vote manipulation. Along with its Discord offshoot Centipede Central (where moderation is even more lax), r/The_Donald has had a hand in drumming up support for Unite the Right and fomenting racial tensions on the site.
There is no excuse for what happened in Charlottesville, and there is no excuse for the president’s attempts to blame victims of racially and politically-driven violence. Those who make excuses will be remembered as the allies of the criminals who perpetrated those hateful acts. If you still find yourself agreeing with the rhetoric of those supporting Trump, you might take today to ask yourself which side of history you’re on.
Update 7/16/17 11:58am ET: Neo-Nazi blog The Daily Stormer, which had its registration revoked by both GoDaddy and Google (and was briefly accessible only through a .onion dark web mirror) has resurfaced under the .ru top-level domain. In a post today entitled “Full Video: Trump Gives SUPPORT to Charlottesville Demonstrators and CONDEMNS Antifa Terrorists!” publisher and notorious troll Andrew Anglin writes “It’s going to be really, really hard to have any bad feelings towards Trump for a long, long time after this.” He adds that Trump, “uses our talking points – that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are next after the Confederate monuments and that they’re trying to destroy our history [...] this man is doing absolutely everything in his power to back us up and we need to have his back.”