It took President Donald Trump two days to condemn last weekend’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., — the event that led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. She was killed after a car plowed into a crowd.
Democrats and some Republicans criticized Trump’s first response to the events for blaming “many sides” for the violence.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) tweeted: “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
The president followed up on Aug. 14 with a second, more comprehensive denunciation. “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists,” Trump said in brief remarks at the White House.
But for some, those words were too little, too late. This isn’t the first time Trump has offered belated words following hate crimes during his time in office. However, this was the first time such an incident caused immense political uproar from both sides of the political aisle. Even First Daughter Ivanka Trump was quick to call out white supremacy.
And on the afternoon of Aug. 15, in a heated back-and-forth with reporters, Trump shifted his tone yet again, returning to the “both sides” rhetoric of his initial statement.
“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right,’ do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump asked. “What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do.” He added, “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now.”
I am just as confused writing this as you may be reading it.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), issued a statement on Aug. 16, accusing Trump of “dividing Americans, not healing them” and suggesting “moral equivalency” between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters like victim Heather Heyer.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the US, encouraged people to sign a petition to “tell President Trump to take responsibility for the hate he’s unleashed.”
“I think that the events over the past weekend were shocking to the country, and particularly terrifying for minority groups in this country,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “The problem … is that [Trump] doesn’t take responsibility for energizing the radical right. Given that he has energized this movement it just doesn’t seem enough for him to just say, oh I condemn it.”
You can sign the petition here: splcenter.org/tell-president-trump-take-responsibility-hate-hes-unleashed.