Just hours after a gunman terrorized a suburban San Diego synagogue, resulting in the death of one person and injuries in three more prior to his arrest, President Donald Trump criticized anti-Semitism at a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Vox reports.
“Tonight, America’s heart is with the victims of the horrific synagogue shooting in Poway, California—just happened,” Trump began. “Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded, and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated.”
Authorities identified the gunman as John Earnest, a 19-year-old who allegedly released an anti-Semetic letter just before the attack.
He continued by praising law enforcement officials who arrived at the shooting and promised, “we will get to the bottom of it. We’re gonna get to the bottom of a lot of things happening in this country.”
But the day before this rally, which was full of “lock her up!” chants calling for the arrest of Hillary Clinton, Trump once again defended white supremacists at the Charlottesville, Virginia rallies in August 2017. On Friday, a reporter asked the president if he still believed there were “very fine people” among both protesters and counterprotesters at the Charlottesville white supremacy rallies.
In response, Trump held steadfast to his position that both sides had justifiable intentions: “I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general. Whether you like it or not he was one of the great generals... People were there protesting the taking down of the monument.”
But it is hard to argue that “Unite the Right,” a movement that was organized specifically around and for the alt-right and chanted “Jews will not replace us,” took to the streets with the sole intention of decrying the fact that monuments of General Lee were being taken down.
Trump refuses to acknowledge his contributions—whether intentional or not—to a burgeoning movement of white supremacy and neo-Nazism around the world, and the statements he makes on the topic often contradict themselves from one day to the next.