The white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville this weekend sparked reactions from lawmakers all over the country. The protestors may have been fighting a local battle, protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park, but the sorrow was felt by the entire nation.
On Saturday, President Trump held a press conference on the violence in Charlottesville. During the conference, he stated, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
Trump’s comments have been met with criticism for failing to condemn white supremacy and for reiterating the phrase “on many sides.”
Even some of Trump’s closest allies, such as Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, tweeted “We should call evil by its name. My brother did not give his life fighting Hitler for Nazis to go unchallenged here at home.”
Virginia’s elected officials were quick to call out what they thought the rally portrayed: racism, nationalism, neo-nazism, and white supremacism. In a powerful press conference, Governor Terry McAuliffe gave the following remarks:
“I have a message to all the white supremacists and the nazis that came in to Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple– go home. You are not wanted in this great Commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you are Patriots. You are anything but a Patriot.” The entirety of his press conference can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLvq9jeTFWE
Congressman Thomas Garrett appeared on Fox News several times over the weekend and spoke out strongly against the protesters.
“Dr. King was spot-on when he said we should judge one another by the content of our character and not the color of our skin,” Garrett stated.
“To think that my child might be born into a world where we are regressing is genuinely frightening,” Garrett stated on Fox Sunday Features.
Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates also commented on the “Unite the Right” rally. Lieutenant Governor and Democratic nominee Ralph Northam, along with Governor McAuliffe, visited Mount Zion First American Baptist Church and First Baptist Church in Charlottesville.
In his official statement, Northam stated, “White supremacists have descended upon Charlottesville again to evoke a reaction as ugly and violent as their beliefs– just as they did before, I am urging Virginians to deny them the satisfaction.”
Republican nominee for governor Ed Gillespie attended mass at Incarnation 12 in Charlottesville to “pray for this beautiful city,” according to his Twitter page.
In his official statement, Gillespie stated, “Having a right to spew vile hate does not make it right. It is painful to see these ugly events in Charlottesville last night and today. These displays have no place in our Commonwealth, and the mentality on display is rejected by the decent, thoughtful and compassionate fellow Virginians I see every day. I know we all appreciate the law enforcement officials maintaining order and protecting public safety there.”
While the rally may have been intended to “Unite the Right,” it seems that the protestors managed to unite the entire country against the bigotry that was seen in Charlottesville last weekend.