My apologies for disappearing for two months without notice! It had become increasingly difficult for me to write a paragraph about current events without descending into a string of expletives. I am finally calmer, and so here is the next edition! For all past newsletters, make sure to go to the blog at http://www.electreport.blogspot.com
On Saturday, August 12th, in Charlottesville, Virginia, a far-right “Unite the Right” rally consisting of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other awful and radical groups was held to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure you’ve heard about the events of the rally thousands of time by now, so I’ll summarize. Counterprotesters gathered, and 2o-year-old Ohioan James Alex Fields Jr., a self-proclaimed white nationalist, drove his car into a group of counterprotesters. More than 30 people were injured, and one person, Heather Heyer, was killed.
In response, President Trump “[condemned] in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, many sides” a statement that neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer considered a victory. Their live-blog said “Trump comments were good... [He] implied that there was hate on both sides, so he implied the antifa are haters. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said he loves us all. ... God bless him.” Similarly, Richard Spencer, president of a white supremacist think tank, happily tweeted that Trump denounced antifa (a militant, fringe, far-left group present among the counterprotesters).
Two days later, Trump finally spoke out against racism and racist groups, declaring “those who cause violence in [racism’s] name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” That lasted all of a few hours, because the next day, at a press conference to present infrastructure plans, Trump said “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.” He also equated Robert E. Lee to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and said their statues would come down next because they were slave-owners. In case you think for a second that this wasn’t bad, David Duke instantly tweeted out praise for Trump’scomments: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
After all this, there was a lot of fall-out. First, four CEOs resigned from the American Manufacturing Council. The Manufacturing Council was then disbanded, as well as the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, another collection of CEOs, which also saw several resignations. The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities also all resigned, sending the president a letter where the first letter of every paragraph spelled out “Resist.” Now, these councils don’t have very much power, but the image of three councils disbanding because of one event does not inspire confidence in the administration.
In addition, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, faced criticism from fellow Jews and his classmates at Yale for failing to denounce the president. In response, Mnuchin denounced neo-Nazis but insisted “the president in no way, shape or form believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways.” Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, also Jewish, stood on the stage on Tuesday as Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides,” and yet neither have resigned or even criticized the president.
Scary Steve Steps Down
Speaking of hate groups, Trump’s longtime advisor Steve Bannon -- known before his role with Trump for being the executive chair of Breitbart -- stepped down this week. He instantly returned to Breitbart and was praised by the president, who tweeted“fake news needs the competition.” Following this news, a cheer broke out on the floor of the stock exchange. Bannon had given a strange interview a couple of days earlier, calling out some of Trump’s cabinet officials, criticizing Trump’s actions regarding North Korea, and dismissing the far right as “losers.” Read it here, I highly recommend it. Bannon claims that he had resigned two weeks earlier, which would mean that this interview was not the reason for his stepping down, but it’s not entirely clear. Since returning to Breitbart, Bannon has said he’s “going to war” for the Trump agenda, and the site published an article today going after national security adviser H.R. McMaster as weak on terrorism. Bannon’s influence will still be felt, whether he has an official title or not, and only time will tell what may happen.
Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to reply or comment.