A UN committee has issued an “early warning” to the US urging the administration to tackle racism.
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.
Following his statements, two of Trump’s key business councils had to be dissolved as CEO and business leaders started resigning from their positions. Within days, the team comprising of the Arts and Humanities Council also handed in their mass resignations.
In yet another blow to the administration, Dr Daniel M Kammen, a top science advisor for the government announced that he would be stepping down. Kammen wrote, “Particularly troubling to me is how your response to Charlottesville is consistent with a broader pattern of behaviour that enables sexism and racism and disregards the welfare of all Americans.”
The UN now has entered the foray urging the President to denounce racism “unequivocally.” This early warning was issued by a committee that tackles racism. The warning is regarding the Charlottesville incident and is not a criticism of Trump himself.
“We are alarmed by the racist demonstrations, with overtly racist slogans, chants and salutes by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan, promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred,” said Anastasia Crickley, chair of the committee.
The committee has urged the American government to address the root causes for such racist developments in the region.
Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reacted to this warning deeming it a “sad day” for America. Brooks said, “It is a sad day when the president of the United States has so thoroughly failed to denounce white supremacism that UN experts must warn the US about the dangers of racism.”
Our assessment is that this is one of the rare instances when the UN has officially warned the US over racism. The body has not criticized the current administration until now. However, Trump’s response to Charlottesville has some of the most influential personalities and bodies distancing themselves from the White House.