The president of the United States finally condemned white supremacist violence in Charlottesville on Monday, two days after an initial statement that blamed "both sides" for violence largely instigated by far-right activists (including a car attack on counterprotesters that killed one person and injured 19).
But the only part of his remarks that appeared to promise that he was devoting not just words, but action, to the problem of right-wing extremism in America — "We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear" — was actually the most hollow.
On Saturday, too, Trump promised to get to the root of the problem: "We want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen." The problem is that his administration has already indicated that it thinks it knows the answers to these problems. It's cut funding for outreach to counter white supremacism, while pushing punitive "law and order" responses to civil unrest.
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Trump's willingness to explicitly say that white supremacism is bad (even if it's only offered in response to criticism) is worth at least something — it's a nod in the direction that white supremacism is an ideology that ought to be ostracized. But his administration's actions threaten to undermine any value in countering white supremacism that Trump's rhetoric might have had.