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‘We Must Call Evil by Its Name’: Republicans Criticize Trump, Jeff Sessions for Ignoring White Supremacists in Charlottesville Statements


Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions
Photo Credit: L: Joseph Sohm; R: Rob Crandall/Shutterstock

Donald Trump did not hesitate to compare U.S. intelligence officers to Nazis but after white nationalists waving the Nazi flag erupted in violent clashes throughout downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, the president failed to call out racists and chide white supremacists — even after a car plowed into a group of anti-racists protesters, killing at least one person.

A spokesperson for the University of Virginia Hospital cited one death and at least 35 injured on Saturday afternoon, the violent aftermath of a what appears to be a deliberate attack. White supremacists gathered near the college campus to protest the removal of a Confederate statute. Self-identified “alt-right” protesters —a key constituency of Trump’s base made up mostly of white men— marched through the campus carrying tiki torches Friday night.

“It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, it’s been going on for a long, long time,” Trump said in a televised statement from New Jersey on Saturday. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides ― on many sides.”

We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017

Hardly the high mark of rhetoric, Trump went on to boast about the economy — without once mentioning the reason for the rally or the car accident. “We wanna get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it,” he continued. “We want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.”

“It has no place in America,” he added. “What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.#Charlottesville pic.twitter.com/DB22fgnu6L

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017

Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, echoed his hollow sentiments on Twitter:

I stand with @POTUS against hate & violence. U.S is greatest when we join together & oppose those seeking to divide us. #Charlottesville https://t.co/p76Y9xQCPL

— Vice President Pence (@VP) August 12, 2017

 

The nation’s top cop, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, also failed to make any mention of racism or white nationalists:

“We stand united behind the President in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and any message of hate and intolerance,” Sessions said in a statement. “This violence is totally contrary to American values and can never be tolerated.”

By contrast, other Republicans were blunt and forceful in their condemnation of the racist rally:

The white supremacists and their bigotry do not represent our great country. All Americans should condemn this vile hatred. #Charlottesville

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 12, 2017

 

Nothing patriotic about #Nazis,the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists It’s the direct opposite of what #America seeks to be. #Charlotesville

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017

 

Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesvillefor what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017

 

Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW

— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) August 12, 2017

 

Their tiki torches may be fueled by citronella but their ideas are fueled by hate, & have no place in civil society. https://t.co/himqTMBQnH

— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) August 12, 2017

 

What ” WhiteNatjonalist” are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does

— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) August 12, 2017

The hate & bigotry on display in #charlottesville is dangerous & cowardly.

— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) August 12, 2017

 

The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.

— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 12, 2017

 

This is bigotry. This is racism. These are views we as the American people should reject.

— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) August 12, 2017

 

Well, not Ted Cruz:

Americans must stand united in opposing those who aim to divide us through hatred and bigotry https://t.co/h7wa661eDv

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 12, 2017

 

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon’s Deputy Politics Editor. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.



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