In an address to the country Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump condemned racism, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville, Va. riots.
Starting the anticipated address off with what he said were economic gains made under his watch — including the creation of one million jobs since he took office — Trump segued into the speech that many wished he had made days earlier when the violence perpetrated by white nationalists groups caused the death of Heather Heyer, an anti-racism protester.
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups,” he said. The president also announced that a civil rights investigation would be launched by the Department of Justice — headed by Jeff Sessions, the man who once joked that he thought the KKK was “ok” until he learned they smoked marijuana. But for many, not only were the comments too late, they echoed his earlier sentiment that hate on “many sides” was the cause for the violence. While Trump did explicitly call out these groups, his refusal to do so earlier is the inaction that many believe fueled the emboldened groups in the first place.
Additionally, his signaling out groups was nearly erased by his use of “including,” which suggests that groups within the white nationalist network he mentioned weren’t solely responsible for this weekend’s horrific events.
Of course, Trump’s other soundbites from the speech seem to contradict with his own policies.
“We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal,” he said. “We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under the Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
One most wonder how sincere he is, in both his condemnation of white supremacists and his comments about equality in the U.S., when he has made efforts to silence and erase some of the most marginalized people in this country and continues to use xenophobia and bigotry to appeal to the base that got him in the White House.