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J.D. Vance’s Flip-Flop on the Nazi March in Charlottesville

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He once bashed Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally. Now he calls the controversy a “ridiculous race hoax.”

The infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, which was organized by white supremacists and neo-Nazis to celebrate white nationalism and that led to the tragic killing of counter-protester Heather Heyer, became an early defining moment of Donald Trump’s presidency when he declared there had been “very fine people on both sides.” Pundits, Republican and Democratic officials, and others recoiled at Trump’s both-sidesism and his inability—or unwillingness—to sharply and definitively condemn the racists, fascists, and antisemites who had gathered. The critics included J.D. Vance, the author and venture capitalist. But in the years since, Vance, now the Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, has changed his tune on Charlottesville to sync up with Trump and his denialism.

Days after the protest and the murder of Heyer by a white nationalist, Vance appeared on CNN to discuss what had occurred. Asked by host Wolf Blitzer for his overall reaction, Vance was straightforward:

Noting that in Trump’s initial response Trump had not specifically mentioned the Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists who had mounted this rally—Trump had criticized “hatred, bigotry, and violence” on “both sides”—Blitzer asked Vance to evaluate how Trump had handled the matter. Vance did not hold back:

Vance continued slamming Trump’s response and added,

Vance was not shy in castigating Trump for his reluctance to condemn racists and neo-Nazis. Yet as a Republican seeking a Senate seat, Vance has brazenly flip-flopped on this point. 

Last year, during a podcast with Breitbart, Vance expressed quite a different opinion on the Charlottesville march. Railing about identity politics, he accused Democrats of cynically and crassly playing the race card: “Basically, racism [for Democrats] is anything that doesn’t give the Democrats more power. And of course, the reason they use that accusation, it’s not because they care about minorities or not, because they care about racists or whatever the whatever the topic of the day is, it’s because they recognize it as a useful strategy to give them more power.” His No. 1 example of this: “the ridiculous race hoax in Charlottesville.”

Wolf, you see people marching around doing the Nazi salute. I come from a family with a large number of military veterans, and from back in the day, people who actually went and fought the Nazis. It’s really disturbing to see this display of white nationalism. And [it] became doubly terrifying and terrible because it led to somebody losing their life. Like a lot of people, I watched the TV, was horrified. And it forced me to think, what’s going on in our country and happening that this stuff is becoming seemingly more common.

Race hoax in Charlottesville? A rally was put on by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and a white nationalist did kill a counter-protester. Where’s the hoax?

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