Trump under pressure to condemn white nationalism

US President Donald Trump says hatred in the nation must stop in wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
People receiving first aid after a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters fighting against white nationalists at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. A 32-year-old woman died after being hit by the car.
People receiving first aid after a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters fighting against white nationalists at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. A 32-year-old woman died after being hit by the car.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Above: The suspect in the car attack, James Alex Fields Jr, was arrested by police. Left: Passers-by comforting a man whose friend was injured in the car attack.
Passers-by comforting a man whose friend was injured in the car attack.PHOTO: REUTERS
People receiving first aid after a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters fighting against white nationalists at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. A 32-year-old woman died after being hit by the car.
The suspect in the car attack, James Alex Fields Jr, was arrested by police.

US leader criticised for not calling out supremacists after violence at rally in Charlottesville

Pressure is mounting on US President Donald Trump to condemn white nationalism after violence erupted at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, killing a woman.

Mr Trump came under fire when he condemned the "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides", but did not call out white nationalism.

A White House spokesman said belatedly yesterday that the President's condemnation of all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred included "white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups".

But the damage had been done.

"We should call evil by its name," Republican Senator Orrin Hatch tweeted. "My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."

Republican Senator Marco Rubio also tweeted it was "very important for the nation to hear (President Trump) describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists".

Ms Cheri Jacobus, a Republican strategist and political commentator, wrote in USA Today: "The escalation of blatant racial hatred by the white supremacists with their torches and Nazi salutes should have been addressed."

FIRST LADY'S APPEAL

Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville.

MRS MELANIA TRUMP, using her official Twitter account.

CALL FOR UNITY

The views fuelling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.

HOUSE SPEAKER PAUL RYAN

Last Friday night, white nationalists had marched in the University of Virginia's campus carrying flaming torches and chanting "blood and soil" - a translation of a Nazi slogan emphasising ethnicity and territory.

At the rally on Saturday, some were seen doing the Nazi salute and shouting "Hail Trump".

White supremacist Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said: "We are determined to take our country back... That is why we voted for Donald Trump."

During last year's campaigning, Mr Duke had endorsed Mr Trump, who later dissociated himself from the endorsement under pressure.

"I do hope that (Mr Trump) looks himself in the mirror and thinks very deeply about who he consorted with during his campaign," said Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer.

The Unite the Right rally soon descended into chaos as white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters from anti-fascist groups loosely referred to as "antifa" and other activists. They fought with sticks, stones, fists and pepper spray before the city government declared a state of emergency and police and the National Guard moved in to curb the violence.

A 32-year-old woman died when she was hit by a car driven by 20- year-old James Alex Fields Jr, who deliberately ploughed into a crowd of counter-protesters. More than a dozen people were also injured. Fields was arrested subsequently.

The white nationalists have vowed to return to Charlottesville.

Ms Jacobus wrote: "Charlottesville, tragically, will now serve as a mecca for white supremacists who firmly believe that with Trump, their day has finally, at long last, arrived."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2017, with the headline 'Trump under pressure to condemn white nationalism'. Print Edition | Subscribe