Nearly two days after violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump condemned racism and white supremacist groups, in a speech from the White House — a ‘take two’ after his initial comments only condemned violence “on both sides.”
Trump described the violence that occurred Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville, from a white nationalist march through the University of Virginia campus to the terrorist actions of James Alex Fields Jr., who killed counter-protester Heather Heyer and injured at least 19 others, as an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.”
“Racism is evil,” Trump said, “and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
‘All Revved Up’ co-hosts, Reverend Emmett G. Price III and Reverend Irene Monroe, broke down the president’s comments with Margery Eagan and guest host Jared Bowen on Boston Public Radio. Highlights below.
MARGERY: What did you think of the president’s remarks?
EMMETT: I think he had to do what he had to do, I give kudos to General John Kelly, who is the new chief of staff, because I think we see a different stance here. There are folks who are pushing the president to be more presidential, and to be the president of everybody in the United States of America — I think we see in this ‘3.0’ of his response that he is trying to do that. It doesn’t do anything for me, because it’s a little too late. For me, the point is, we have a responsibility as citizens of this country to re-frame and articulate what ‘we the people’ means to us.
IRENE: But we still have to hold him accountable for his actions.
EMMETT: You do that.
IRENE: We all do, because without that, we wouldn’t have gotten what you describe as [a] ‘3.0’ apology to the nation here. What we have now, going forward, is a glimmer of hope that maybe, indeed, he is sending a message to this group that supposedly is coming up here on Saturday, that if you engage in any kind of criminal act —and my understanding is that don’t even have a legal permit —
MARGERY: There’s some dispute about the permiting, as I understand it.
IRENE: Nonetheless, what I am hoping is that the message has been sent so that they know that when they come up here on Saturday, they are liable to be held accountable for their actions.
EMMETT: The message is, after we finish talking about economics and trade deals, after we finish doing kudos on the stock market and unemployment, then we talk about this issue, right? And because he has been forced, he had to do something. It was well-scripted, and I’m going to give the president two claps for staying on script.
IRENE: He reads well here!
I think people also need to understand — there is this great love here from the confederate side that we must restore the Robert E. Lee statue. A lot of times, we say, well, what would our founding fathers do? And it really interests me, what would they do? The interesting thing I found out about Robert E. Lee is that once the war was over, once he had to surrender, he said to his troops, we should not be a divisive nation. So much so, that shortly after the Civil War, he became president of a very small college called Washington College. When he was being installed, he said to them that the confederate flag should not fly, the American flag should. Even during his funeral in 1870, former confederate soldiers did not wear the confederate outfit, nor put him in that uniform.
MARGERY: So you’re saying the statue is okay?
IRENE: I’m saying he would say that it is treason to even fly this confederate flag. If you go back and ask what our founding fathers would do, this is one that would say, look, the war is over.
Reverend Irene Monroe is a syndicated columnist for The Huffington Post and Bay Windows, and Reverend Emmett Price is a professor of worship, church & culture and founding executive director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. To hear All Revved Up in its entirety, click on the audio link above.