US President, Donald Trump, was condemned by independent American organisation, Human Rights First, earlier this week for his controversial statements on the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The rally left one woman dead after a car ploughed into a group of anti-racism protesters. Dozens more people were injured in the violent clashes.
Originally denouncing the President for waiting two days to criticise the white nationalist groups, the organisation issued a further statement which called for Congress to “make clear to the president that he must take clear, decisive action to remove the voices of white nationalism from his inner circle.”
What was the protest about?
The protest was organised by blogger, Jason Kessler, in response to the decision to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general and slave-owner. Kessler stated the event was about “an anti-white climate within the Western world and the need for white people to have advocacy like other groups do.”
However, the pro-white rally was met with opposition from anti-racist groups in support of the statue’s removal. Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, was reported to have told white supremacists and Nazis to “go home.”
Why was Trump’s response so controversial?
In his response to the violence, Trump stated that “we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” His words “on many sides” shocked many people who took the statement as being in support of white supremacy.
His response incited anger in those calling for a stronger statement denouncing the violence; including Colorado senator, Cory Gardner, who tweeted, “Mr President — we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
Two days later, Trump finally denounced the events of the rally, stating “racism is evil 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.”
It seems his response was simply too delayed. As a leader, and as the President of the United States, it is Donald Trump’s responsibility to provide leadership in the battle against extremism; not provide comfort to the promoters and perpetrators of violence.
Advocacy groups, such as Human Rights First, have called on Trump to remove White House members linked to white nationalism; specifically Stephen Bannon, Chief Strategist, and Deputy Assistant to the President, Sebastian Gorka.