Top US military commanders condemn racism after Charlottesville violence

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson waits for Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before their talks at Abe's official residence in Tokyo.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson waits for Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before their talks at Abe's official residence in Tokyo. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON - In a rare move, top US military commanders publicly condemned white supremacist groups in the wake of the Charlottesville racial unrest.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson tweeted as news of the violence unfolded last Saturday (Aug 12).

"Events in Charlottesville unacceptable and musn't be tolerated @USNavy forever stands against intolerance & hatred," he said in the post.

Commandant of the US Marine Corps General Robert Neller tweeted on Tuesday: "No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act."

A day later, Chief of Staff of the Army General Mark Milley posted: "The Army doesn't tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It's against our Values and everything we've stood for since 1775."

Air Force General Dave Goldfein and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Joseph Lengyel also tweeted on the same day.

"I stand with my fellow service chiefs in saying we're always stronger together - it's who we are as #Airmen," said Gen Goldfein.

Gen Lengyel tweeted: "I stand with my fellow Joint Chiefs in condemning racism, extremism & hatred. Our diversity is our strength. #NationalGuard."

President Donald Trump had blamed both white supremacists and their opponents in the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday that left one woman dead and 19 others injured.

CNN noted that the condemnations by the five US Joint Chiefs did not directly address Trump's comments but were presented as a message to the general public, their troops and potential recruits.

Gen. Milley told CNN on Wednesday: "My message is to the troops. The Army will not tolerate any form of radical behaviour."

But the news network said the condemnations were notable as military leaders traditionally uphold an iron-clad commitment to stay out of politics.

Gen. Milley was adamant that nothing in his tweet was aimed at being political. "That is the furthest thing from my mind. I am not involved in domestic politics. I want good order and discipline in my ranks."

In a separate report, CNN said former CIA director John Brennan had slammed Trump's "dangerous" and "ugly" comments on the deadly violence in Charlottesville.

He made the comment in a personal letter to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, after The Situation Room anchor spoke publicly that he lost all four grandparents to the evils of Nazism.

"I just want to extend my sympathies not only for their deaths, but also to you and your family - and countless others -for the pain inflicted today by the despicable words of Donald Trump. Mr Trump's words, and the beliefs they reflect, are a national disgrace, and all Americans of conscience need to repudiate his ugly and dangerous comments,'' Brennan wrote.

" If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr Trump will do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world. By his words and his actions, Mr Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk."

 

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