DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Let's talk more about the racist violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. As we just heard, Vice President Pence condemned it on that trip to Columbia. But events like this are sometimes viewed differently in the rural, white communities that make up Donald Trump's most loyal base. They're also portrayed differently in the conservative media popular in those small towns. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann has that piece of the story.
BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: When Donald Trump first spoke about the deadly violence in Charlottesville, he blamed the rioting and bloodshed on many sides, failing to name the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who organized the march. That sparked a huge backlash, even from many Republicans. But the president's words sat just fine with Christopher LaMothe.
CHRISTOPHER LAMOTHE: I think when he called for unity of the country, that should have been what was pounded on.
MANN: By pounded on, LaMothe means respected. He loves Donald Trump and says the president never gets a fair shake from the media. We met sitting on a bench in Mineville, N.Y., a Rust Belt town north of Albany. On a beautiful, summer afternoon, LaMothe smoked a cigarette while we talked. He says he hates the idea of neo-Nazis. But now he thinks those white guys he saw on his TV marching in Charlottesville have some reasonable arguments.
LAMOTHE: This is a different white supremacy movement than before. Before people - 'cause I don't think that whites are saying, well, we're better. They're just saying, why can't we be treated all as equal?
MANN: LaMothe thinks affirmative action programs should be scrapped. He also thinks the neo-Nazis who sparked mayhem in Charlottesville are no worse than a lot of activist groups on the left.
LAMOTHE: But I didn't hear anything from Barack Obama about Black Lives Matter, and that was another hate group.
MANN: In fact, Black Lives Matter has no history of violence or racial bigotry comparable to America's far-right militias, neo-Nazis or Klan groups. But that's not how this plays even in fairly mainstream, conservative media, where liberal groups are often portrayed as radical or dangerous.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX AND FRIENDS")
PETER HEGSETH: I think the president nailed it. He condemned in the strongest possible terms hatred and bigotry on all sides.
MANN: Peter Hegseth, co-host of "Fox & Friends" Sunday echoed this narrative yesterday.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX AND FRIENDS")
HEGSETH: Antifa also ought be called out, just like the violent aspects of Black Lives Matter ought be called out.
MANN: Antifa means anti-fascist. It's a kind of catchall name for far-left students and anarchists who often stage counter-protests when far-right conservatives march. And their approach is confrontational.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Punch a Nazi in the mouth.
MANN: Antifa protesters in Charlottesville, talking about punching Nazis. The left-wing movement is tiny. But it's become a major fixation for the far right. People who speak for the Antifa movement acknowledge they sometimes carry clubs and sticks. And they've clashed in recent months with police. But James Anderson, who runs an anarchist website, rejects comparisons between the militant left and white supremacists.
JAMES ANDERSON: I mean, the idea that we should organize against the Klan or stop the Klan or stand up to the Klan, I mean, most people would be like, yeah. I mean, obviously, the Klan, it's bad. It kills people. It lynches them.
MANN: I asked Christopher LaMothe in Mineville if it wouldn't be better if President Trump had just condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville using blunt language. LaMothe shook his head impatiently.
LAMOTHE: He's in a no-win situation, as far as...
MANN: I mean, why? Why isn't it a win to just say Nazis suck? That seems like an easy win.
LAMOTHE: What he did do - and nobody's giving him credit for that - he called for unity. Never saw Obama call for unity.
MANN: In fact, Barack Obama did call for national unity numerous times during his presidency, especially during times of racial conflict and violence. That, too, was downplayed or ignored in much of the conservative media that shapes opinion here in rural America. For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOGWAI'S "LETTERS TO THE METRO")
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