One Theory Over Meaning of Trump’s ‘Many Sides’ Remark – New York Times

Posted By on August 16, 2017

Mr. Trump borrowed conservatives lingo on Tuesday, saying the alt-left bore responsibility, using a phrase popular with commentators like Foxs Sean Hannity.

They think there were 300 or so racists who showed up to a rally, and who got exactly what they wanted: Violence, and violence in a way that inspires the nations elite to double down on iconoclasm in a way they hope grows their movement, said Ben Domenech, the publisher of The Federalist, an online magazine.

A headline on The Federalist on Monday summed up that sentiment: White Supremacists Were Not the Only Thugs Tearing Up Charlottesville.

A site called The Patriot Post created a meme called They Lie using two juxtaposed photographs. The first was a man looking at Mr. Trump waving to a sea of cheering fans; the second was a picture of that same man wearing glasses covered in the CNN logo, but seeing instead a group of Hitler Youth saluting their leader.

Townhall.com offered another provocative take: How the Liberal Media Created Charlottesville.

Mr. Trump and conservatives have pointed to several recent episodes as evidence of the left gone mad. They include the comedian Kathy Griffins posing for a picture with a fake severed Trump head, and a production of Shakespeares Julius Caesar that featured a Trump-like actor as the emperor who is fatally stabbed onstage.

Some seized on the shooting that seriously injured Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, at a congressional baseball team practice in June as further proof. One recent web video from the National Rifle Association accused liberals of attempting to bully and terrorize the law abiding as it implored Americans to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.

But the tragedy in Charlottesville specifically, the death of a young woman at the hands of a Nazi sympathizer who the authorities said ran her down with his car undercut the notion that the black-masked radical leftists who smash windows and hurl firebombs are an equal menace.

Nor is it backed up by data on political violence. Of at least 372 murders that were committed by domestic extremists between 2007 and 2016, according to a study by the Anti-Defamation League, 74 percent were committed by right-wing extremists. Muslim extremists were responsible for 24 percent of those killings, and the small remainder were committed by left-wing extremists, the study concluded.

Noah Rothman, an editor for Commentary Magazine, a conservative opinion journal, said the emphasis for many conservatives is not on statistics that indicate who is the more violent offender. Rather, he said, the point is about the general tenor of political debate, which people like him believe is weighted against them.

You dont have a ton of reporters banging on the doors of Democrats asking them to denounce Antifa, he said, referring to the militant Marxist-inspired group that rioted at Mr. Trumps inauguration and often shows up looking for confrontation at sites where conservative writers like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos are scheduled to speak.

Were comparing a body count, and that to me seems like its the wrong place to start, Mr. Rothman added. The place to start is when we have violence in the streets. We need to have a conversation about where we are as a country.

Mr. Trump is no mere bit player in the discussion of political violence. At various times, he has offered to pay the legal bills of supporters who get in brawls at his events and stated, without offering any proof, that paid agitators were responsible for protests against him.

Mr. Trumps sympathizers generally amplify these claims, including some who did after Charlottesville. Alex Jones, the right-wing provocateur and Sandy Hook massacre denier whom Mr. Trump once personally called to thank for his support, said people who protested the white supremacists over the weekend were probably actors.

In an internet broadcast on Saturday, Mr. Jones played down the significance of the violence, saying it was likely staged by Democratic Party activists who are looking to overdemonize whites and put chips on the shoulders of the so-called minorities.

Demographically, blacks are 12 times more likely to attack whites for no reason, Mr. Jones went on, providing no evidence for his claim. Its a fact.

He then recounted his own experience watching a Nazi rally he said was attended by Jews posing as Nazis, evident by their curly hair, and you know, dark eyes.

Mike Cernovich, a conspiracy theory peddler, was gleeful as he posted on Twitter about the violence on Saturday. Civil War is here! he wrote.

Like others on the far right, he said the rhetoric on the left was to blame: The left has preached hatred for decades. Those they hated began to hate them back. How is anyone surprised by this?

Mr. Cernovich headlined a Rally for Peace in Washington after the Scalise shooting, a rally that quickly turned into a referendum on the lefts culpability in the crime. He also played a central role in the Pizzagate hoax that attempted to link Hillary Clinton to a child sex ring and has been praised by Mr. Trumps son Donald Trump Jr. as being worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.

There is also a new political term to describe the circular firing squad in which right and left have blamed the other for the countrys degenerating political debate whataboutism.

Guy Benson, a conservative writer and an author of the book End of Discussion, which argues that the left has tried to shut down political debate by declaring certain topics off the table, said he sees a whataboutism overreach among some conservatives.

But on the other hand, he said, Are we allowed to point out that left-wing violence is a problem and did probably contribute to what happened in Charlottesville and not be compared to Hitler?

He said that conservatives would be better served by finding other ways to make points of media bias and political double standards.

Round and round we go with this one-upsmanship of whos worse, Mr. Benson added, and thats a really terrible way to argue.

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A version of this article appears in print on August 16, 2017, on Page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Behind Many Sides Remark, a Dark View of the Political Left.

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One Theory Over Meaning of Trump's 'Many Sides' Remark - New York Times

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