Republican leaders and military generals have come together to specifically denounce racism in light of the events that unfolded in Charlottesville.
Some have even criticized US President Donald Trump for his rhetoric around the tragedy.
A number of white supremacist groups participated in a rally called Unite the Right in Charlottesville on August 12th and 13th 2017. On the second day, fights broke between those participating in the rally and those protesting. A 20-year-old man, James Alex Fields Jr, reportedly rammed into the protestors with his car. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman died after being hit by the car. There were multiple injuries as well. Two state troopers were also killed when their helicopter, which had been assisting with the police response to the rally, crashed outside the city later in the day.
US President Donald Trump has spoken about the incident multiple times. He said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. "His failure to specifically condemn the white supremacists has been criticized even by members of his own political party. Trump later doubled down on his own rhetoric and claimed that there were “fine people” on both sides of the conflict. He has also drawn ire for seemingly equating white supremacist groups to the anti-fascist protestors.
Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell and the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, both senior Republican leaders, have refrained from criticizing Trump in the past. However, both made pointed statements specifically denouncing white supremacy. McConnell said, “We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred. There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head."
Senator Marco Rubio called on Trump to specifically condemn white supremacy by name. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio and a Republican said that those who marched were “pathetic” and voiced that Trump “needs to make it clear. I mean, he’s got to fix this, and Republicans have to speak out, plain and simple. Who cares what party you're in?”
Senator John McCain tweeted, “There's no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”
Those within the Trump administration have also spoken against white supremacy. National security adviser H.R. McMaster said that the attack was “the definition of terrorism.” Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of United States said that the attack might be a hate crime.
Additionally, US military leaders specifically condemned racism. “The Army doesn't tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks.” Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller tweeted that there is "no place for racial hatred or extremism in the Marine Corps."
Our assessment is that criticism surrounding Trump is unprecedented. Never has a President of the United States faced such immediate criticism from members of his own party. The military leadership has also found it necessary to distance themselves from the President’s comments by singularly condemning white supremacy and racism. They are in essence, defending the country’s democratic values.