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President Trump has been widely criticized for his failure to call out the white supremacists and Nazis who wreaked havoc in Charlottesville during a “Unite the Right” rally this weekend.
On Sunday, John Oliver joined the outraged response to Trump’s reaction.
Oliver brought up the Charlottesville white nationalist rally, where afterward one person was killed and 19 injured when a car ran over counter-protestors on Saturday. He said that while true leadership was needed in the wake of this attack, the U.S. unfortunately has Trump as president, and he played a clip of Trump’s response.
“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides,” said Trump from his New Jersey golf club.
“This was a white-nationalist rally — you have to call that out by name,” said an incredulous Oliver. “There aren’t many instances in modern American politics where you can honestly think, ‘That guy really should have mentioned the Nazis,’ but this is emphatically one of them. It’s like a reverse Godwin’s Law: If you fail to mention Nazism, you lose the argument.”
He called Trump’s “false equivalence” between Nazis and people who oppose Nazis wild. “Nazis are a lot like cats,” added Oliver. “If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.”
Trump was asked repeatedly after his statement if he disavows the white supremacists who support him and he didn’t answer the questions. Oliver said that a non-answer in a situation like this is an answer in and of itself.
Oliver also said that if Trump eventually releases a statement against white supremacists, it will be too little, too late. (On Monday Trump held a press conference in which he said “racism is evil” and called the KKK and white supremacists “repugnant.”)
“Maybe Trump will eventually take a second swing at personally condemning the white nationalists,” said Oliver. “But even if he does, it’ll be too late. Because his first response is who he is. And the truly infuriating thing is how predictable this was.”
“It simply doesn’t get easier than disavowing Nazis,” said Oliver. “We will have to look to one another because, incredibly, in a country where previous presidents have actually had to defeat Nazis, we now have one who cannot even be bothered to even condemn them.”
Oliver’s longer segment on Sunday focused on North Korea. He attempted to directly speak to the North Koreans, telling them, “We honestly do not spend our days plotting your destruction. We spend them sharing cat memes and spinning fidgets and getting furiously angry about a singing boy appearing in our favorite dragon show.”
Oliver even invited “Weird Al” Yankovic on to perform a song about the conflict. Lyrics include, “You’ve got us crapping our collective pants, may I suggest you take it down a notch or two.”
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