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The false equivalency of Trump blaming “many sides” in Charlottesville

A researcher explains why Trump seriously missed the mark.

After white supremacists held violent rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday and Saturday, President Donald Trump had a chance to denounce the hate and bigotry that led to the current situation during a Saturday bill signing ceremony. Instead, he blamed “many sides.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said.

The president’s false equivalency quickly drew a lot of criticism on Twitter. But Phillip Abita Goff, a researcher who focuses on race and policing issues at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, perhaps said it best in a series of tweets:

In short, there aren’t multiple morally equivalent sides here. There’s one side — white supremacists — that has long oppressed all other groups of people. Their protests aim to ensure that oppression continues, even if it means using violence. The people counterprotesting, on the other hand, are trying to end that oppression.

So while it’s true that both sides participated in the brawls seen throughout the protests, one side — in a country that supposedly values equality — has the much stronger case by actively working against the hate, bigotry, and violence that the white supremacist side is actively trying to perpetuate.

But Trump won’t acknowledge any of that. Asked to clarify his remarks, a White House official said, “The President was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.” Trump is deliberately not calling out the white supremacists who led to the unrest in Charlottesville.

Watch: How Trump's Charlottesville response emboldens white supremacists

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