Denouncing the the White House's shameless use of false equivalency at a time of national crisis, CNN commentators Van Jones and Nina Turner call for truth from the administration.
Decrying the conservative disease of false equivalency and the refusal to forcefully condemn, by name, Nazi sympathizers and white supremacists who rampaged in Virginia on Saturday, CNN analyst Van Jones called for clarity and for the whole truth from Donald Trump.
"This is a day in which after an American citizen was assassinated in broad daylight by a Nazi. A Nazi," Jones stressed, after panelist Michael Caputo echoed Trump’s sentiment that "both sides" were to blame for the bloody mayhem in Charlottesville. "This not a time to talk about both sides."
Jones also pointed to Trump's familial connection to the issue, as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Jewish, and his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism prior to marrying Kushner.
Trump’s soft-peddling of the terror attack on Saturday, which left one person dead and 19 injured, has stunned observers on both sides of the political aisles, including his former communications director, who criticized Trump's response as being too weak and not carrying the proper moral weight.
And make no mistake, Trump’s tepid response to the bigoted violence in Virginia was noticed and repugnantly appreciated by the radical-right movement.
From the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer in the wake of Trump’s comments yesterday: "He 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."
Media Matters has described the Daily Stormer as "a virulently anti-Semitic website that celebrates Nazism, purports to document the 'Jewish Problem,' and attacks 'kikes.'"
And that is why it is so crucial for the president of the country to thoroughly denounce such violence. And why it is appalling and distressing that he refuses to do so.
JONES: You are correct that there is a problem of extremism in this country that cuts across. But this is a day in which — after an American citizen was assassinated in broad daylight by a Nazi. A Nazi, who the day before had been marching with torches down American streets saying anti-Jewish, anti-black stuff, and then an American — this not a time to talk about both sides! Both sides are not using ISIS tactics, mowing people down with cars in the streets of America. Both sides are not trying to defend a horrific — grandparents, great-grandparents, the people watching this show gave their lives to stop Nazism! Dr. King gave his life to stop the Klan. This is not a time to talk about both sides. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the day after tomorrow.
But the president of the United States needs to come out and say, 'My daughter is Jewish,' he could've said. If he's gonna go off-script, go off-script and say, 'My daughter's Jewish. My son-in-law is Jewish. I don't want this in my country.' Go off-script and say that! Don't go off-script and say, 'Many sides, many sides.' That sends a signal to people that this is alright, and it's not alright!
"I'm with Van on this," added Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution. "Both sides? No. There was only one side."
And she called out people who would try to play down the nation's history of racism, because this is a clear instance of how ignoring the past only dooms us to repeat it.
The president had a fine opportunity, Jake, and I think he still does. He needs to stand up and say, 'This was not by happenstance.' What those KKK-inspired riots did — it was very strategic to start at night, to have candle-lit torches in their hands, to march information in that way. It's very reminiscent of why the KKK came to life in the first place after the Civil War to reign terror down on African Americans.
And so, the president has to be very strong and cannot equivocate that racism and bigotry will not be tolerated. And I think I saw something that Bill [Kristol] said or wrote in a tweet, which is, 'I don't want your votes.' But this is the overtness of what they did, because we know that covertly racism and discrimination and bigotry still exist in this country, but the fact that these people feel so emboldened and folks want to talk about both sides? I'm with Van on this. Both sides? No. There was only one side.
And we gotta continue to have the people who believe in the promise of this country to continue to push or drag us forward, because we are a country of progress. And what we saw happen yesterday and the day before is very indicative, it's in the DNA of this country. So it always boggles my mind when people get up and say 'This is not what our country is about, this is not what we were founded on.' Oh no, we were founded on discrimination, racism, bigotry. and hatred. But the one thing that we can say is that we have been a nation of progress, and we are losing that progress right now in the 21st century.
The White House's response to this horrific, bigoted violence has left many across the country, and across the political spectrum, angry and disgusted.
But it is crucial to also listen to those being full-throated in their condemnations of Trump's weakness on the matter, to remind us that there are still many people working for the progress Turner spoke of, and who will not allow anyone — not a torch-wielding neo-Nazi nor the president — to succeed in hindering it.