Political News

Some say Trump's condemnation of hate groups is not enough

Posted August 14

It took President Donald Trump less than an hour to denounce Merck Pharma's Ken Frazier on Twitter after the executive resigned from the President's Manufacturing Council.

But it took Trump two days -- and outcry from lawmakers and many other people on social media -- to condemn white nationalists and neo-Nazis who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a "Unite the Right" rally. The event led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer, who was killed after a car plowed into a crowd. Trump also hasn't publicly condemned the explosion at a mosque outside Minneapolis last week, an event which Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton declared "an act of terrorism."

"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 on Monday after meeting with his FBI director and attorney general. He announced a civil rights investigation would be opened into Heyer's death.

But for some, particularly those in marginalized communities targeted by white supremacists, Trump's words on Monday were too little, too late.

"This acknowledgment does not even begin to make up for President Trump's years of riling up white nationalists," Farhana Khera, Executive Director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy and educational organization, told CNN. "What speaks louder than his words are the deaths and the universal nationwide condemnation it took to get these crumbs of acknowledgment."

This isn't the first time Trump has offered belated words following hate crimes during his time in office.

"There's been a very serious undercurrent of this kind of hate occurring with increased intensity," Khera said, listing the Portland train stabbings in May and the shooting of two Indian men in Kansas in February as other examples of attacks in the last year.

However, this was the first time such an incident caused immense political uproar from both sides of the political aisle. After the Charlottesville rally, many politicians -- including Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Orrin Hatch of Utah -- vocalized their views against the neo-Nazis' violence in Virginia. Even Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump was quick to call out white supremacy.

"There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis," Ivanka Trump wrote in a two-part tweet. "We must all come together as Americans -- and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville"

Her tweets were a stark contrast to President Trump's initial comments made on Saturday, during which he blamed violence in Charlottesville on "many sides."

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides," he said. "It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time."

As for why he didn't condemn the hate groups sooner, Trump told CNN's Jim Acosta: "They have been condemned."

Women's March co-president Tamika Mallory said she feels actions made by the administration will speak louder than Trump's words.

"It's OK to make a statement that sounds strong," she told CNN of Trump's speech. "But we need to be at a place where we hear from the President about how the administration plans to address this overall sentiment that we can live in a country where the KKK can rise again and not have a serious and clear response to that."

On Twitter, the Women's March account tweeted a statement also criticizing the president for his lack of action.

"Racism is in fact evil, but this nation's leadership has intentionally appointed, promoted and empowered people with unabashed white supremacist and neo-Nazi stances including Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka," part of the statement reads, pointing the finger at three White House staffers.

Last week, before the Charlottesville rally, Gorka, deputy assistant to the President, spoke about terrorism with Breitbart and said white supremacists were not the problem.

"It's this constant, 'Oh, it's the white man. It's the white supremacists. That's the problem,'" Gorka said. "No, it isn't."

Bannon, another Trump White House adviser, is the former head of Breitbart, which in the past he has called "the platform for the alt-right."

Mallory said she thinks one step in alleviating hate crimes is to fire these White House officials.

Others also called for their removal. The Southern Poverty Law Center, 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."

The petition asks Trump to "apologize for energizing the radical right by running a racist and xenophobic campaign; Demonstrate that he is changing directions by firing his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the person who turned Breitbart News into a platform for white supremacists; and Take concrete action to undo the harm he has caused, starting with a directive to federal agencies to take the danger of white supremacy seriously."

"I think that the events over the past weekend were shocking to the country, and particularly terrifying for minority groups in this country," SPLC President Richard Cohen told CNN. "The problem isn't so much that Trump's words came late ... the problem is that he doesn't take responsibility for energizing the radical right. Given that he has energized this movement it just doesn't seem like enough to me for him to just say, oh i condemn it."

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