Trump’s unsurprising and despicable refusal to name and condemn violent white supremacists at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrate the composition of his political support. Trump’s statement condemning bigotry and violence did not mention the white supremacists who organized and headlined the event (which protested the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee). If he wanted to be sure to condemn the liberal groups protesting the white supremacists he could have done that as well, as long as he mentioned white supremacists by name, but he declined. During the campaign he similarly refused to disavow the support of white supremacist groups. This cannot be an accident. It is too obvious of a situation with too many political advisors knowing how it would be received if he did not condemn white supremacists to have been a mistake. There is now a trend of Trump engaging in this behavior, and there is only one plausible explanation. He does not want to lose the vociferous and strident support he receives from white supremacists and their fellow travelers, he just cannot name them as being amongst his supporters. Other supporters of Trump have started memeing and tweeting their theories defending the indefensible rally and the President’s indefensible response.
Various parts of Trump’s rabid internet following have decided that the event was a false flag operation by George Soros-funded groups to tarnish Republicans and conservatives. This kind of wild conspiracy-mongering was encouraged by Trump during his campaign and many of his close advisors in the White House have been spouting off similarly inane and insane conspiracy theories.
Unfortunately the decline of civil discourse in the United States has seen many liberals or Democrats accuse Republicans and conservatives of being “Nazis” or “racists.” Incidents like the one in Charlottesville make it clear that there are racists and Nazis supporting Trump but the previous (and current) hyperbole make it difficult to condemn and separate these groups from the main mass of his supporters.
As long as Trump himself continues to be the focus for support, his own cult of personality, then it will be hard to find a way to hold him accountable for his unethical and duplicitous behavior.