After the president takes days to condemn white supremacists, the alt-right leader says he believes Trump shares their view of US history
By Eric Cortellessa
August 14, 2017
WASHINGTON — Richard Spencer is pleased with the president.
A white supremacist and one of the leading figures of the alt-right, Spencer said he was “happy” US President Donald Trump did not initially fault his movement for the deadly turn Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally took in Charlottesville, Virginia.
After the rally, which was organized to protest the city’s plans to remove a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, ended in a 20-year-old Ohio man ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others, Trump addressed the nation.
He condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.” He then repeated for emphasis: “On many sides.”
Trump’s words Saturday quickly prompted widespread outrage, as many saw them as suggesting a false equivalence between the white supremacists and their opponents, while pointedly failing to specify who was in the wrong.
But for Spencer, the most prominent member of the alt-right who attended the demonstration, Trump was sending a message that was reassuring.
“I was happy that he didn’t claim that white nationalists created these problems” in Charlottesville, Spencer told The Times of Israel on Monday. “I think in his gut he knows that we are not the ones aggressing.”
Asked if he felt personally condemned by the president’s Saturday statement, Spencer said: “No.”
It took two days and unceasing pressure until Trump was willing to take a stronger stance, saying “racism is evil” from a podium at the White House on Monday and calling out white nationalists by name.