Mich. GOP leaders rip white nationalists over violence
Several prominent Michigan Republicans personally condemned the role of white nationalists in the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville — something that President Donald Trump didn’t immediately do.
Trump faced criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, who represents the Grand Rapids area, for not singling out the white nationalists and other hate groups behind Saturday’s deadly protest in Virginia.
Amash directed his comments at the president on Twitter: “@POTUS, America’s children are watching. Denounce white nationalists & their evil ideology. They are enemies of liberty & our Constitution,” Amash tweeted Sunday.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, a Portland Republican, didn’t mention Trump by name but used Facebook to call for a clear rebuke of white supremacists: “This abhorrent and racist violence is disgusting and vile. White supremacy groups are un-American and should be rejected and condemned as such.”
Lena Epstein, a Jewish businesswoman running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, also singled out the white nationalists who gathered in Charlottesville to protest the city's plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“Racially-motivated hatred & violence have no place in our society. I condemn white nationalists & pray for the victims of #Charlottesville,” tweeted Epstein, who co-chaired Trump’s campaign in Michigan last year.
Gov. Rick Snyder did not weigh in during the weekend clashes but issued a statement Monday afternoon calling for unity. A woman was killed and dozens of others were wounded Saturday when a car rammed into counter-protesters in the streets of Charlottesville.
“Hate speech and violence are not welcome in Michigan – it’s not representative of who Michiganders truly are or of the future we want to build for our children,” Snyder said.
In remarks to reporters from his New Jersey golf club, Trump on Saturday blamed “many sides” for the violence. The White House followed up Sunday with an unattributed statement:
“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white Supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”
A tweet by former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, went viral, with nearly 262,000 re-tweets as of Monday morning and nearly 753,000 “likes.”
“I signed up to fight Nazis 73 years ago and I'll do it again if I have to. Hatred, bigotry, & fascism should have no place in this country,” Dingell tweeted.
On Sunday, he added: “What happened yesterday was radical terrorism, @realDonaldTrump. Refusal to identify it, denounce it, & fight it makes one complicit in it.”
Rep. Sandy Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat, also criticized Trump’s response to the deadly violence.
“We can never tolerate bigotry and hatred and the violence carried out in its name,” tweeted Levin, who is Jewish. “All of our leaders, especially POTUS, must unequivocally condemn those who seek to perpetuate this hate and violence. 3/3 #charlotesville.”
Abdul El-Sayed, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, tweeted: “You either stand for our constitution or with white supremacy. You can’t stand for both. Where are you, @realDonaldTrump? #Charlottesviille.”
Rep. Fred Upton, the Michigan delegation’s senior Republican, spoke out Saturday as the violence escalated in Virginia.
“What is happening in #Charlottesville is most disturbing. It shames us as a nation. It needs to stop. Now. We are all watching,” Upton tweeted.
“It threatens the very core of our country: Tolerance, acceptance, & embracing diversity. We must join together to oppose this divisiveness.”
U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, didn’t mention Trump by name but quoted the Declaration of Independence and tweeted, “These bigoted acts should be condemned and denounced by all Americans!”
Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, spoke up on Twitter late Sunday, saying, “What happened in Charlottesville was a disgusting display of bigotry and hate by white supremacists. Violence, racism cannot be tolerated.”
Attorney General Bill Schuette, R-Midland, who is considering a run for governor, tweeted that, “America must be a place where we all unite against hatred, bigotry and violence. I condemn the actions of those who express those beliefs.”
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said on Twitter: “Racism reared its ugly head in #Charlottesville. We must condemn hatred & violence from white supremacists — our country is better than this.”
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, said on MSNBC that Trump “wants to have it both ways.”
“He wants to be able to say that he spoke up against this, but he does it in a way that gives comfort to David Duke. Gives comfort to those who perpetrated violence. Gives comfort to Nazi sympathizers,” Kildee said.
“As if somehow, they represent some legitimate side of a two-sided debate. They do not. ... And the president of the United States of America has a moral obligation to call it that.”
Kildee remained unhappy after Trump, during remarks Monday at the White House, denounced racism as “evil” and said “those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs.”
Kildee said the president “should not have to be publicly shamed into condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists.”