This is simply false. Trump’s comment about “very fine people on both sides” referred to the controversy over Lee’s statue, and not to anyone “spreading hate.” On the same day the rally happened, Trump made a public statement lamenting “the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,” and condemning “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.” He continued: “It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society.… I just got off the phone with the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, and we agree that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now.” Three days later, when Trump took questions at the White House, reporters repeatedly asked him for further comment. You can read the entire transcript of that press conference, and see that the president specified he was speaking of the Lee statue when he said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the dispute. Furthermore, Trump asked, if memorials to Lee and other Confederates were now subject to destruction, “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?”
Indeed, such controversies are not moot speculation: Radical students at Hofstra University insist that a statue of Jefferson be removed from their campus, and at George Washington University, campus activists assert that the “Colonials” nickname of the school’s sports teams is “extremely offensive” and “glorifies the act of systemic oppression.” What is apparent from such claims is, first of all, that America’s schools have failed to properly teach history, and second, that we are living in an era of frightening radicalism, in which ignorance and rage walk hand-in-hand. As tragedies like Charlottesville demonstrate, political polarization is dangerous. And as Joe Biden’s remarks demonstrate, there are unscrupulous politicians who seek selfish advantage from this polarization.
I didn’t see any ‘right-wingers’ at Charlottesville. I saw two flavors of leftists. Supposedly the ‘right’ was represented by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Nazis, neo or otherwise, are socialists by definition. And ‘white supremacists’ are engaging in normal left-wing identity politics. A pox on both sides.