In the absence of Trump stepping up to provide a presidential voice after the Charlottesville domestic terror attack last weekend, former President Obama tweeted a message of perspective and hope:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” he wrote, attaching a picture of him meeting a multiracial group of children.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
The tweet has become the third-most-liked in history, with more 2.3 million likes and, 974,000 retweets and 36,000 comments.
On Saturday, in Charlottesville, Virginia, a march and protest by groups of white nationalists and neo-Nazis descended into terrorism, when a 20-year-old man drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others. Two Virginia state troopers who had been monitoring the event died when their helicopter crashed.
Trump was universally criticized, including by members of his own party, for his slow and equivocal condemnation of the events in Charlottesville. He at first tweeted a generic statement against “hate” and “violence” that didn’t mention Charlottesville by name. In a statement delivered 48 hours after the event, he did not call out white supremacy or neo-Nazism by name, and criticized violence “on many sides.” This was interpreted as implying a moral equivalence between the protesters and counter-protesters.
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
On Twitter and television, Republican senators Ben Sasse, Marco Rubio, Orrin Hatch and Cory Gardner were quick to criticize the president’s failure to mention the terror groups by name.
A number of celebrities and Democrats also tweeted their outrage.
On Monday, Trump made a statement from the White House, saying, “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
The New York Times reported that his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, pressured the president to make a more forceful statement. “Yet even Mr. Trump’s allies worried that his measured remarks, delivered two days after dozens of public figures issued more forceful denunciations, came too late to reverse the self-inflicted damage on his moral standing as president,” the Times reported.