President Donald Trump has been harshly criticised for his inadequate and “unpresidential” response to the deadly attack that took place earlier today in Virginia, following a white nationalist rally in the city of Charlottesville.
Terrifying scenes unfolded in the city when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters leaving the rally. At least one was killed, with many others hospitalised. There are currently reports that two police officers were also killed in a helicopter crash near the scene of the rally.
Trump made a statement to the media earlier today, but he has been slammed for failing to denounce or even specifically mention any of the white supremacist groups involved in the demonstration, which was billed as a Unite The Right rally.
In his statement, Trump said:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. 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.”
His decision to place the blame on “many sides” and then repeat this phrase for emphasis was met with incredulity, given that one of those “sides” was there specifically to protest in favour of a belief system that places one race above others.
The President’s words contrast starkly with those of Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who angrily addressed the “white supremacists and Nazis” who came to the state for the protest, saying: “Go home … You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.”
“You came here today to hurt people and you did hurt people, but my message is clear – we are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.”
Many on Twitter were left dumbfounded by the President’s “many sides” call.
"On many sides."
Never forget that phrase.
Three words that protected violent bigotry.
"On many sides."
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) August 12, 2017
MANY SIDES?!? Ive typed and deleted at least 8 tweets. Words simply arent strong enough to accurately describe how I feel about Donald Trump
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) August 12, 2017
The violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of "many sides." It is racists and white supremacists.
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) August 12, 2017
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to go ahead and declare myself on the side THAT DOESN'T HAVE FUCKING NAZIS. #manysides
— Steven DeKnight (@stevendeknight) August 12, 2017
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York made an official statement earlier today, saying that there are not “many sides” to the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville and rebuking Trump for his response.
No, Mr. Trump – there are not many sides to hate. pic.twitter.com/NEBoO4PUaV
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 12, 2017
Even members of Trump’s own party have called him out for the inadequacy of his response, with Republican senator Cory Gardner calling on him to “call evil by its name” and condemn today’s attack as domestic terrorism.
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
Fellow Republicans Chuck Grassley and Marco Rubio are also calling Trump out, the latter saying that it is “very important for the nation to hear [The President] describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.”
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) 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
Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, furiously condemned the President, saying: “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. -OGH
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) August 12, 2017
20-year-old Ohio man James Fields has been arrested and charged with murder over the attack.
Update: Republican Senator Ted Cruz has joined those condemning the attack, saying: “The Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred they propagate.”
He called the incident an act of domestic terrorism and urged an investigation from the Department of Justice.
Source: The Independent
I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism. pic.twitter.com/AwJLsfUEHl
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) August 13, 2017
Image: Getty Images / The Washington Post