The president dare not condemn his base. He could not utter the words: “white supremacist” or “nazi” or “domestic terrorism” in his immediate statement after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
This is more than moral cowardice. Much more. It is complicity. Complicity with the hateful enemy of peace-loving people. Complicity with the dark scourge of Hitler and his SS; with those concentration camps that defiled the humanity of Jews, the Roma, gays, the ill and those deemed different or other. Donald Trump has no sense of right or wrong, no barometer to guide him as a leader and no authority in his office as president of the United States.
Trump ignores reporters’ questions:
-Do you want the support of these white nationalists groups?
-Would you call this terrorism, sir? pic.twitter.com/szXVWQMXe5
— David Mack (@davidmackau) August 12, 2017
However, there were a few members of Trump’s party who dared to condemn the violent mayhem that overtook the small university town. They named the evil. For the first time in seven long months, a handful of Republicans chose country and conscience over party and president.
Many times over the last year, Florida House member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen stood on the House Floor and denounced the Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela. Her lonely voice demanded US intervention long before the country became a bloody ground of authoritarianism. As a Cuban-American, Ros-Lehtinen would have a keen sense of oppression. So it is no surprise that she was one of the first Republicans to denounce the president when he claimed that “many sides” caused the violence at the Alt-Right rally.
White supremacists, Neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are the antithesis of our American values. There are no other “sides” to hatred and bigotry.
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) August 12, 2017
Sen. Jeff Flake, who recently called out the GOP and its “abdication” of responsible leadership, was the very first to name the enemy. Just before 3pm, Flake tweeted out his rejection of white supremacy.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 12, 2017
An hour later, James Lankford, junior senator from Oklahoma, posted a series of tweets, plainly aggrieved by the violence in Charlottesville. He was not afraid to tackle the underpinnings of this violence.
The supremacy of any race over another is not only immoral, it’s contradictory to our Constitution and the idea of America.
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) August 12, 2017
Corey Gardner, head of the 2018 National Republican Senatorial Committee, also took issue with Trump, castigating him for his lukewarm and nonspecific reaction.
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
Shortly after, the long-term Senator from Iowa and chair of the Judiciary committee, Chuck Grassley tweeted out his condemnation of homegrown terrorists. The significance of statements by Grassley (and later Paul Ryan) cannot be ignored. Grassley heads up the Senate’s investigation into possible collusion with Russia and the Trump camp and Ryan controls the levers of impeachment proceedings.
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
Rep. Dave Bratt of Virginia put out a statement and several tweets roundly condemning fascists, white supremacists and the KKK.
My statement on the events in Charlottesville this weekend: pic.twitter.com/68YWWDFk6Z
— Rep. Dave Brat (@RepDaveBrat) August 12, 2017
By dinnertime, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida continued the wave of reaction to the president’s remarks.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017
Senators Ron Portman and John McCain, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan followed.
The tragedy in Charlottesville this afternoon was domestic terrorism. We must all condemn hatred and white nationalism.
— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) August 12, 2017
Our hearts are with today’s victims. White supremacy is a scourge. This hate and its terrorism must be confronted and defeated.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 12, 2017
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 12, 2017
By evening, three more GOP House members (LoBiondo, Coffman, Roby) explicitly named the forces behind the deaths and injuries in Charlottesville.
White supremacy, racism, homophobia, xenophobia & other forms of hate speech/actions must NEVER be accepted or tolerated in America. Period https://t.co/rnUQF7z7sp
— Frank LoBiondo (@RepLoBiondo) August 12, 2017
Heartbroken to hear about loss of life in today’s domestic terror attack in #Charlottesville. Evil, no matter its face, must be condemned.
— Rep. Mike Coffman (@RepMikeCoffman) August 12, 2017
Appalled by the unspeakable bigotry & violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville. This hatred is un-American and cannot be tolerated.
— Rep. Martha Roby (@RepMarthaRoby) August 13, 2017
As the long, disturbing day began its close, Sen. Ted Cruz issued a damning statement and a call for an investigation by the Justice Department.
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 that they propagate. Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Almost immediately after, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, sent out a statement rejecting white supremacy.
The racist and anti-Semitic views embraced by white supremacists have no place in our nation and do not reflect core American values of equality and religious freedom. We are all created in the image of God, and I strongly condemn such detestable views against fellow human beings.
-Rep. Bob Goodlatte
By 11:00pm Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an investigation into the violence at Charlottesville.
Sunday morning, August 13, a handful of Senators joined the chorus
7:17am REP. KEVIN McCARTHY
The actions of malice and hate by white supremacists simply have no place in society. https://t.co/eJgpWP21hr
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 13, 2017
9:17am SEN. TOM COTTON
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) August 13, 2017
10:00am REP. KEN BUCK
White supremacists are ignorant and hateful. All Americans must unite against racial intolerance and bigoted ideology.
— Congressman Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) August 13, 2017
11:12am SEN. SUSAN COLLINS
The violence in Charlottesville is domestic terrorism. Hatred, racism, and bigotry have no place in our country.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) August 13, 2017
Now, make no mistake. Republicans butting heads with Trump may appear as the standard-bearers of decency. But they have yet to publicly censure the president. There is no visible move to proceed with removal.
We can praise the few who spoke out directly to Trump. But America demands more. Time is running out.