Rhode Island Democrats castigated President Donald Trump for equating protesting white supremacy with advocating for white supremacy after a racism rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent and left one woman dead and many others injured.
“The United States fought against Nazis and fascism in World War II. Over 400,000 Americans gave their lives in that fight,” said Senator Jack Reed. “President Trump failed to do the right thing and remember that sacrifice and why Nazis, bigotry, and white supremacists can have no place in our country. The President of the United States is the leader of the free world and should serve as a symbol for what is best about America. It is time for him to stop excusing white supremacists and start working to bring Americans together in the fight against racism and intolerance.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, “The Greatest Generation fought, bled and died to defeat the Nazi flag that flew in Charlottesville this weekend. Instead of flatly condemning these monsters of the past, the President equivocated and blows dog whistles to the bigots of the alt-right. Bigotry and hatred are not the lights of our nation’s future, and those who champion those ideas are a stain on our democracy.”
Congressman David Cicilline said, “This should be really simple. Nazis and white supremacists are to blame. Period. Full stop. But instead the President has once again created an unnecessary controversy that distracts from the important work we have to do on behalf of working families. Defending Nazis doesn’t create jobs or raise wages or make America great again. The only thing President Trump achieved today was to embarrass the American people and offer comfort to the worst elements of our society.”
Congressman Jim Langevin said, “On Saturday, the President refused to condemn an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by a white supremacist, blaming ‘both sides’ for the reprehensible attacks in Charlottesville. His comments [yesterday], doubling down on that ridiculous characterization, show his true moral fiber, and I am deeply appalled by his pronounced ignorance and utter indifference toward the hatred espoused by the people he is defending. Our country’s leaders must condemn racism and violence in the strongest possible terms, and the President is abdicating his moral responsibility by doing otherwise. This is not a partisan or political issue, but one of basic human rights and decency.”
Governor Gina Raimondo said Trump must recant his “dog whistles and muddled words,” in a statement from the state Democratic Party.
“The hateful and violent actions of white supremacists and self-identified Nazis this weekend leave no room for equivocation,” she said. “President Trump responded to the events this weekend with dog whistles and muddled words. I stand with Rhode Islanders from across our state against hate, racism and white supremacy. I call on President Trump and all elected and community leaders to make a clear, unequivocal statement that white supremacy, Nazism, racism and bigotry are evil and have no place in our democratic republic.”
Legislative leaders also denounced Trump.
“All of our leaders have a responsibility to speak with one common voice against bigotry, hatred and prejudice,” said House Speaker Nick Mattiello. “A failure to denounce such actions in Charlottesville and elsewhere is an implied acceptance of this intolerable behavior. Americans must stand united for decency, honesty and the shared common value of equality for all.”
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said, “There can be no false equivalency between those who seek to subjugate groups of Americans and those who stand bravely against hatred and oppression. This isn’t about left versus right; it’s about right versus wrong. Rhode Islanders of diverse ideologies have fought to protect the American ideal that all people are created equal against the scourge of slavery during the Civil War, of Nazism during World War II, and of racism during the Civil Rights movement. We as Americans stand united against racism and intolerance, but the leader of this great nation must not equivocate on the fundamental American principle espoused by George Washington to a Jewish congregation in Newport: that we shall give to bigotry no sanction.”
Warwick Rep. Joe McNamara, the chair of the state Democratic Party, said, “President Donald Trump has not failed to shock Americans once again,” said Rhode Island Democratic Chair Joseph M. McNamara. “His outrageous support for White supremists in the most recent, horrific domestic violence episode in Charlottesville is an outright disgrace, and a dishonor to the innocent people lost and severely injured Saturday. Americans now know whose side he stands on, and it is not ours.”
McNamara called on Rhode Island Republicans to denounce Trump’s comments that politicians from both parties have found to be divisive, hateful and un-American. “All Republicans – including and especially those here in our state- should find the backbone to stand up and denounce this man who shames his office, his Party and this nation,” McNamara said.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican who is expected to run for governor again, declined to denounce Trump for equating fighting racism with racism. Read about his full statement here.