"It is a sad state of affairs when it's a news story that the president of the United States condemns racism and white supremacy."
—Vanita Gupta, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
These were just some of the words used to describe President Donald Trump's speech on Monday, in which he "finally did the absolute bare minimum" by denouncing white supremacists for the deadly violence they perpetrated over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia—and even then, he did so in a speech that started with a boast about the state of the economy.
It took Trump two days and "overwhelming pressure" to denounce white supremacists explicitly. In his first comments regarding the neo-Nazi rally in Virginia—an event also known as "Unite the Right"—the president suggested the violence came from "many sides." These remarks were met with applause by neo-Nazis on the Internet, who celebrated Trump's refusal to condemn them by name. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were quick to label the comments as evasive and unacceptable.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, expressed a sentiment many echoed following the president's televised speech on Monday, saying: "It is a sad state of affairs when it's a news story that the president of the United States condemns racism and white supremacy."
Two days after the fact, President Trump has at long last, directly and personally, condemned the white supremacist rallies and violent extremism that occurred in Charlottesville. While today's delayed words are welcome, they should have been spoken on Saturday. This unconscionable delay has undermined his moral credibility as our nation's leader.
Today's words must be followed by action. He must stop advancing policies that seek to divide this nation. Supporters of white supremacists, violent extremism, racial bigotry, and neo-Nazis should not serve in the White House or at any level of government. The president should fire Stephen Bannon and Sebastian Gorka or any staffers who stoke hate and division.
Others heaped on the criticism, arguing that it should not have taken days of external pressure and shoves from his own cabinet to convince Trump to speak out against white supremacy.
The President of the United States should not have to be publicly shamed into condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
— Rep. Dan Kildee (@RepDanKildee) August 14, 2017
Donald Trump brings to the task of denouncing racism all the passion of a man ordering a cheeseburger through a drive-through microphone
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) August 14, 2017
Saying "racism is evil" is literally the least someone can do, and yet it took "overwhelming pressure" to get Trump to do it. pic.twitter.com/Vx9vkwNpT7
— Jacob Remes (@jacremes) August 14, 2017
Following the president's remarks on Monday, reports emerged that Trump is "seriously considering a pardon" for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt of court last month after failing to adhere to a court order demanding that he stop racially profiling Latinos.
This is how much he hates racism. https://t.co/piMFHsJnek
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 14, 2017
Arpaio's career was built on racist abuse against people of color. Pardoning him would embolden white supremacists. https://t.co/KYiNvujUzx
— Our Revolution (@OurRevolution) August 14, 2017