With the events in Charlottesville this past weekend still fresh in Americans’ minds, President Trump held a presser yesterday after taking about 48 hours to fully condemn the white nationalists in Charlottesville. However, in his remarks yesterday, he again failed to truly speak out against the white nationalists who protested in Charlottesville and was even met with praise from the KKK’s David Duke.
In the midst of all this, many elected conservatives, and conservative students for that matter, are at a loss with the weekend’s unforgivable events. As well, many conservatives were far more outraged than the president's reaction suggested.
For example, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) swiftly responded to the events in Charlottesville by prompting the DOJ to prosecute the events as domestic terrorism.
Fresh U caught up with conservative students to demonstrate that the ideology of the weekend’s rally-goers do not represent that of the mainstream conservative movement:
Matt Colleran, Vanderbilt University, Economics & Spanish
“Last week, I attended Young America's Foundation's National Conservative Student Conference with hundreds of conservative activists from around the country. Not once did I hear a speaker condone violence or support white supremacy and nearly everyone I talked to agreed that the "alt-right" does not even embody conservative principles. We would occasionally have a slight difference of opinion, which is perfectly healthy. But, what is not healthy is making racist or bigoted arguments to defend our positions. In fact, the "alt-right" has far more in common with the radical left than with true, principled conservatives. Conservatives oppose identity politics and believe that we are all created equal regardless of race or other characteristic. On the other hand, many of the people at the violent protest in Charlottesville last weekend are essentially the other side of the same coin, just with different objects of their hatred. Many members of the alt-right are also very much in favor of abortion because Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers specifically target minority communities*. These are not the principles – free markets, traditional values, individual liberty, and everyone being created equally under God – on which our country was founded and that conservatives hold dearly. Our future lies with principled conservatives, not racism and identity politics.”
*Note: There is a debate whether or not Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger had a racial bias in her mission to promote birth control. In her book The Pivot of Civilization, she wrote that minorities are, “…human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ‘spawning… human beings who never should have been born.”
Following President Trump’s remarks, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted a series of messages imploring the president to be harsher against the Neo-Nazis’ actions.
Samantha Politano, Florida State University, Biological Sciences
“President Trump's reaction was an insult to Americans, but understandable considering his track record. The reason he didn't condemn Neo-Nazis from the start is he would lose their support of little to no support from the rest of the country. His logic has no basis in reality, though, because the Neo-Nazis and KKK are a negligible amount of people despite their vocal nature. Other conservatives in the government, such as Cruz and Ryan, had no problem immediately condemning the alt-right. As right-leaning people, we have a responsibility to not feed the radicals within (sadly) our "side." We must be firm in denying them any hope for the success of their abhorrent movement. People who truly believe in conservative values are sickened by white supremacy, and Trump's hesitation to identify Charlottesville as such reveals his true nature as a populist. Conservatives should be vocal in their dissent of the rally and its many causes and consequences.”
Tim Scott (R-SC) is the first African-American senator from the state of South Carolina, and following the events of the weekend, he wrote an op-ed for USA Today. Later, he tweeted a thread of tweets further condemning racism in America.
Emily Margaret Wilson, Missouri State University, Public Relations
“I think what's going on in Charlottesville is disgusting, immoral, and racist to the core. As Republicans, we have to condemn this. As humans, we have to condemn this. It's far more than party lines. We fought an entire world war against the Nazis only to have people aiding and giving excuses and power to them in our own country in 2017. That's horrifying and says so much about where our nation, which was once great, is headed. Along with the mob of terror itself, the fact that our President, Donald Trump, took an entire 48 hours to speak against the acts in Charlottesville should not be applauded in any way. It shouldn't take two entire days to condemn racists, Nazis, and humanitarian hate crimes.”
Another Republican senator, Cory Gardner (R-CO), condemned the violence that erupted over the weekend and criticized President Trump for his remarks following the events.
Valente Montes, College of the Canyons, Political Science
“I stand with Senators Marco Rubio and Cory Gardner along with several other Republican leaders in condemning the hateful attacks that transpired over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hateful groups such as the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacists do not represent conservative values and have no place in our party. These groups are un-American and deserved to be exposed and condemned for the disgusting ideas and hate which they promote. The sluggish response from state leaders in Virginia, as well as from President Trump, was disappointing. Despite Friday's rally being heavily publicized well in advance, Charlottesville law enforcement’s presence at the rally was inadequate. The fact that a driver was able to plow his car through a crowd of people killing one and injuring 19 others shows just how small law enforcement’s presence truly was. This weekend's rally turned riot was reminiscent of the turbulent 1960's and exposed how divided we are as a nation. We should condemn disgraceful groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.”
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney condemned the white nationalists as “racist, bigoted, Nazi” in a tweet yesterday.
Reid Hansen, Missouri State University, Political Science
"Contrary to the usual reaction to President Trump’s two-sided tweet regarding the tragic events in Charlottesville, I agree full-heartedly that Trump wrote and reacted the correct way. He was poked and prodded for not reacting quick enough when he was actually waiting for the correct evidence and the full story, a literary feat many media sources neglected to do. As for my thoughts on the rally and protest, I hate what happened. I think white supremacy, Nazism, and bigotry are dead and need to remain so. I will not excuse, however, the way the extreme leftists reacted. I believe it is the alt-right's right to protest the way they did with permits. I believe it was not the alt-left's right to bring violence to the event*. I deeply condemn both groups for their outdated, disgusting, and morally incorrect ways."
*Note: For eye-witness accounts of the violence in Charlottesville, visit this LA Times article.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has been in the news often lately due to his cancer announcement and later his refusal of the Senate GOP’s healthcare plan. This week, however, he used his platform to speak out against white supremacy and President Trump's reaction.
Josh De Ford, Pensacola Christian College, Graphic Design
“Here’s the deal — Donald Trump’s comments in response to the Nazi/alt-right/Antifa/BLM riots are just one more flop in a long line of questionable, off-color, and dogmatically inappropriate comments from the president. Trump has built his brand around brashness and saying it like it is. So why, of all news stories, would he delay as long as he did on calling out the alt-right extremists for their murder of a counter-protestor? To conclude that it is because he has catered to like-minded crowds throughout his political career is not far-fetched. By the time he did address the riots, he flubbed on calling out the white supremacists for who they were: radicals who spawned a domestic terrorist attack. It took over 24 hours for Trump to call them out by name, but followed it up by saying that their crowd consisted of “very fine people.” That comment is one of the most repulsive comments made by a President of the United States in decades. Trump was not incorrect when he stated that both sides had done wrong, his error comes in hesitating to denounce both sides equally.”
As well, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) joined Rubio in speaking out against the white nationalist movement that was so visible this weekend, saying that “we must be clear.”
Liam Verses, University of Texas-Austin, Plan II Honors & Environmental Engineering
“Like many Americans, I was shocked and appalled by the events in Charlottesville on Saturday. I saw two videos of the car ramming into the crowd of counter-protestors, which sent chills down my spine. Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists have no place in American society and no home in the Republican Party. I believe President Trump’s initial remarks didn’t go far enough, especially because he failed to condemn the “alt-right” groups for their vicious hatred and bigotry, but nonetheless, we saw Democrats, moderate Republicans, and right-wing Republicans — like Ted Cruz — swiftly decry all morally-deprived, racist groups involved in the heinous acts of Saturday’s violence. I am a strong believer in the First Amendment and, consequently, support any group’s right to rally and protest in a civil manner. From the outset on Saturday, however, it was apparent that event was bound to turn ugly. In those situations, law enforcement and local, county, and state officials must decide the best course of action. The events on Saturday certainly deserved a national response, and by President Trump delaying his condemnation and only issuing remarks in response to mounting pressure, he exhibited an implicit lack of urgency that is extremely concerning. I can only hope President Trump doesn’t delay next time. Additionally, I hope that justice is served and that the Justice Department’s civil rights investigation — in addition to relevant criminal proceedings — are fruitful.”
Although the white nationalists and Neo-Nazis tried to speak for the conservative movement with their “Unite the Right” protest, all they did was unite common-sense conservatives in opposition to their movement. Their ideals and even President Trump’s sluggish condemnation of their values do not represent the conservative movement at-large.
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