Facing the first anniversary of the white supremacy marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, Donald Trump insists that he is not a racist.
Trump raised concern when he initially refused to criticize the marches and the violence they brought, including the killing of a woman when she was hit by a car — driven by one of the white supremacists — that rammed a group of counter-protesters. Trump instead spoke of “good people” within the marches and tried to blame “many sides” for the violence.
Trump, who has a history of racial discrimination dating back to his initial investments in property and housing in the 1970s, has continued to make racially-charged remarks. These include his insults of African-American politicians, activists, and athletes; his targeting of National Football League players in the “Take the Knee” social protests; his reference to African and Caribbean countries as “shitholes”, with citizens carrying AIDS; and his likening of immigrants to “animals” and “vermin”.
Last week Trump insulted both basketball star LeBron James and his interviewer, CNN’s Don Lemon:
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
Trump also resumed his verbal assault on NFL players and told a group of business leaders that Chinese students studying in the US are spies.
But on Saturday, Trump — or staff writing in his name — declared on Twitter:
The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2018
Before the tweet, Trump invoked the backing of African American performer Kanye West — “Thank you Kanye for your support. It is making a big difference!” — and afterwards he proclaimed ” the LOWEST African American and Hispanic unemployment rates in history” and said he would pursue prison reform.
The messages were issued as white supremacists gathered for a “Unite the Right 2″ rally on Sunday in Charlottesville. Counter-protesters are also gathering, with a large police presence expected to separate the two groups.
Trump has also been facing the claims of former White House special assistant Omarosa Manigault Newman, who says — in promotion for a forthcoming book — that she has tapes of Trump making racist comments. Speaking at a “Bikers for Trump” event at his New Jersey golf resort on Saturday, Trump said Manigault Newman — a former winner on Trump’s reality TV show The Apprentice — is a “lowlife”.