Learn English – Meaning of “on many sides” in statement


Donald Trump recently said,

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of
hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides…"

Most if not all news outlets interpret the phrase "on many sides" in this sentence as referring to different groups of people. In other words, they say he meant to call out not just this display of hatred but other displays by other groups at other times.

But, is it possible from a grammatical perspective that "many sides" is referring to the many sides of "this display of hatred" referred to in the sentence? In other words, could Trump have meant "we condemn this display of hatred from lots of angles"?

Does my question make sense? I don't believe the President has made a statement clarifying his comments yet so I am not asking what he meant specifically (who knows?), but from a grammatical/lexical perspective couldn't the phrase "on many sides" in context mean in essence "from lots of angles" or "in a lot of ways"?

Best Answer

If you look at video footage of the statement you'll notice that the second "on many sides" is there to emphasize the (already strongly emphasized) first "on many sides".

What he actually meant and what went on in his mind is anyone's guess without him clarifying this further. It could, indeed, mean some variation of "from many groups" or "in many ways" or both. But frankly, to me it sounded more like "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on both sides of the political spectrum."