Anti-Trump Republicans opted for sensationalism over concern for people’s well-being after staging the appearance of tiki torch-carrying white supremacists at a campaign event in Charlottesville for Virginia candidate Glenn Youngkin.
Some question the wisdom of the incident as it feeds into the right’s obsession with “crisis actors” and claims tragic events are staged. Others directly challenged the use of Charlottesville as a prop. Local news outlet WVIR reported that Democratic Del. Sally Hudson, who represents the area, called out the stunt.
“Charlottesville is not a prop. Our community is still reeling from years of trauma – especially this week. Don’t come back, @ProjectLincoln. Your stunts aren’t welcome here,” Hudson tweeted.
The staged event comes just four days after the start of a long-awaited civil trial against the organizers of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally. The Lincoln Project claimed the staged incident reminded people that Youngkin did not denounce Trump’s comments about “fine people” after violence in Charlottesville.
But none of the operatives involved seem to recognize the harm caused to residents and others impacted by violence in Charlottesville four years ago. Organizer Molly Conger tweeted a thread calling the incident “the absolute sickest shit imaginable.”
“It would NEVER be appropriate to use that imagery to make a cheap political point at the expense of the people who’ve been terrorized by it, but they did it here in Charlottesville at the exact moment the victims of the event they were satirizing were in court facing real nazis,” Conger tweeted.
Andrew Whitley, executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party, released a statement saying it was “shameful” for anyone to accuse party affiliates and staff of participating in such a hoax. He also said it is not an event to be taken lightly.
Further compounding the frustration with the group’s latest stunt, The Lincoln Project is running a video seeming to connect Youngkin to the hate and bigotry of the hate rally in Charlottesville. While it is unclear whether the incident will have blowback on Terri McAuliffe’s campaign, it is the type of incident that reinforces criticisms of the anti-Trump outfit.
“Lincoln Project trying on the very real and lived pain of folks that have to navigate under and overcurrents of racism/anti-semitism DAILY because they thought (???) it would equal clout and clicks has me livid,” Applewhaite tweeted. “And they have been quadrupling down all goddamn day.”