More than 100 solidarity rallies across the U.S. gathered against white supremacy, following violent clashes in Charlottesville.
3 things president must do to prove he’s serious about fighting hate and racism: Our view
Denouncing neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups ought to be the easiest task in American politics, something that the nation’s leaders can do instinctively without needing a teleprompter.
Yet, in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s horrific violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., President Trump whiffed. Badly. In place of a full-throated denunciation of racists, the president talked instead about violence “on many sides” that has “been going on for a long, long time.”
The inadequacy of the president’s initial remarks was widely denounced, and not just by Democrats. Nothing reflected his abdication more than the praise he received on the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. (“Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us.”)
Early Monday afternoon in Washington, Trump attempted a do-over. After some self-congratulatory remarks about his administration’s economic accomplishments, the president got around to saying exactly what he should have said two days earlier — or could have tweeted at any time since then.
“Racism is evil,” Trump said, reading prepared remarks from the White House. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
Better late than never, we suppose, even coming from a man whose presidential campaign seemed to create a safe space for racism. But if Trump is to attempt to reclaim the moral high ground, or turn around his 61% disapproval rating, he’ll have to follow his words with actions.
He’ll have to do things that anger the white nationalists who constitute a piece of his political base.
- He’ll have to purge his administration of figures associated with the “alt-right,” such as aides Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.
- He’ll have to learn to accept principled dissent rather than descend into petulant rebuke, such as Monday’s Twitter attack on Kenneth Frazier, the African-American CEO of Merck, who resigned in protest from a White House advisory panel.
- And he’ll have to end federal and state efforts to suppress minority votes in upcoming elections, starting with shutting down the commission he launched to defend the ludicrous notion that millions of illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election.
Then, and only then, will Americans be able to believe that Trump said what he meant, and meant what he said, when he stepped to the podium on Monday.
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