a moment that wasn't

fujibei posted:

The headline of a CNN news of August 11 reads, "In Trump's White House, Charlottesville was a moment that wasn't."

What does "Charlottesville was a moment that wasn't" mean?

Hi, Fujibei: I find the headline extremely unclear with the contraction of "was" and "not" ("wasn't"). I believe that the intended meaning is the one that would stand out if "was" and "not" were not contracted and if "was" were stressed:

  • In Trump's White House, Charlottesville was a moment that was not

I think that the simple past-tense form of "be" ("was") is being used in the sense of "exist." In Trump's White House, Charlottesville (i.e., the event that occurred in Charlottesville a year ago) was a (historic) moment that did not exist in Trump's White House. In other words, what happened in Charottesville a year ago was not perceived by Trump or his supporters to be the disturbing historic moment in United States history that it in fact was.

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