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Moving Forward from the Tragic Events in Charlottesville, Virginia

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Like you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific events this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The public displays of hatred and bigotry on the part of white nationalist protesters were appalling. The tragic loss of a young woman’s life, as a direct result of racially motivated violence, was simply unbearable. Respectful disagreement is, of course, essential to our democracy. However, the vile hatred we witnessed in Charlottesville is unacceptable.

All Americans should be able to agree that white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan deserve only our universal, unequivocal, and full-throated condemnation. Wherever and whenever we encounter prejudice or acts of violence, we are obligated – as citizens, as moral beings, as members of the same national community – to speak out. Clearly, firmly, and without apology.

In the many years I have been proud to call America my home, I have been extremely grateful for how the American people welcomed me – and countless other immigrants, from every background, race, religion, and country of origin – with open arms. The tragedy in Charlottesville is a painful reminder of the bigotry that persists in our society today – as we continue building the “more perfect union” that the Founding Fathers envisioned. Progress has not always happened in a straight line, but millions of patriotic Americans push us forward and refuse to compromise on the principles of liberty and justice for all. For me, this unwavering commitment to progress is the essence of America – and the very best of what this great country represents.

It is also indispensable to our culture and success at Dow. For 120 years, Dow has thrived because we have held true to the inclusive vision of our founder, fought for the rights of all people, and lived our values wherever we operate. Today, the leaders of this enterprise are united in our commitment to building a truly diverse workforce and combatting all forms of hate and discrimination. This means confronting overt racism and bigotry, as well as the implicit biases and structural inequalities that we continue to see all around us.

In light of what happened in Charlottesville, there are some who believe that business leaders should formally disassociate themselves from the administration in Washington, D.C. I have personally heard from many people – including colleagues at Dow – who are concerned about my role on the administration’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. I want to assure you that I understand these genuine concerns and do not take them lightly. Nor do I take lightly the responsibility to serve this wonderful country or the obligation to fight for prosperity and opportunity for all Americans.

I have worked, for decades, with officials from across the political spectrum to help build a more inclusive American economy. I agreed to serve as the Chair of the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because I believe that a strong manufacturing economy is good for America and is the best way to ensure its benefits are shared with every segment of society.

Every member of the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative condemns racism and bigotry, and there cannot be moral ambiguity around the driving forces of the events in Charlottesville. However, in discussions I had with the White House earlier today, I indicated that in the current environment it was no longer possible to conduct productive discussions under the auspices of the Initiative. And so, as proud as I am of the efforts we were taking on behalf of the American worker, disbanding the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative was the right decision.

I remain committed to being an advocate for manufacturing and to champion policies that reflect the values we at Dow hold dear.

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JEWISH OUTRAGE AS TRUMP DEFENDS VIRGINIA WHITE POWER RALLY

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia – Israeli and Jewish American leaders expressed panic, dismay and a sense of helplessness over President Donald Trump’s extraordinary defense on Tuesday of the white nationalist rally here over the weekend, where torch wielders flew swastikas and Confederate flags to the shock of the nation.

An angered Trump shouted at reporters in the lobby of his Manhattan tower on Tuesday afternoon, defending those who organized a rally meant to project white power and target a conspiracy of global Jewish influence. His press conference caught White House staff off-guard, and deepened a crisis surrounding the president’s moral credibility, already polling among Americans at historic lows.

The Charlottesville rally has been roundly condemned by Democrats and Republicans as antisemitic, evil, fascist and fundamentally un-American. Jewish leaders have repeatedly called on the president to unambiguously condemn its organization. But Trump initially declined to name those responsible for the event – groups that self-identify as white supremacist, white nationalist and neo-Nazi together rallying to “Unite the Right” around their racist cause – until, faced with tremendous pressure from his own party, he caved in on Monday to issue a more detailed statement.

Less than a day later, Trump backtracked, furiously disputing criticism that he failed to denounce racism in the first place, while defending those seeking to preserve Confederate and proto-fascist iconography, including statues of Southern generals who fought in the Civil War to defend slavery and secession.

He equated the hate groups behind the rally with those in their crosshairs, some of which counterprotested the event with messages of equality.

One counterprotester, Heather Heyer, 32, was murdered when 20-yearold James Fields – who reportedly has neo-Nazi ties – intentionally rammed his car into a crowd. Dozens more were wounded.

“I think there’s blame on both sides,” Trump charged. “And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either. You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

Trump went on to compare those who led the 1860s Southern secessionist movement to the US’s founding fathers, who devised the American union in the first place.

“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down,” he said, referring to the Confederate commander and one of his most prominent generals, respectively. “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

“You’re changing history,” he added. “You’re changing culture.”

It was an exceptional defense of the lost Confederate cause from an American president leading the party of Abraham Lincoln, who fought the nation’s bloodiest war against Lee and Jackson to keep the union together. But it was also a defense of those who marched under Nazi banners, chanting “Jews will not replace us” at a rally with the stated purpose of exerting white power as a matter of cultural preservation.

The president’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, stood on the sidelines in the Trump Tower lobby with his arms crossed and his head down, appearing despondent. The former general was soon to face a repudiation from his former colleagues: The heads of the army, navy, air force and Marines all issued exceptional statements in defense of the American pluralistic way, breaking with longstanding US tradition separating military brass from political affairs.

“The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism or hatred in our ranks,” wrote the US Army chief of staff, Gen. Mark Milley, on Twitter. “It’s against our values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775.”

Gary Cohn, the president’s National Economic Council chairman who is Jewish, was “disgusted and upset” by Trump’s comments on white nationalists, reported The New York Times. A group of CEOs who were to advise Trump as part of a “strategic and policy council” disbanded in protest, as members of his manufacturing council continued to exit in a steady stream, dismembering that group as well.

Remotely from their vacation, the president’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, reportedly urged him to climb down from the crisis by publicly distancing himself from the alt-right.

Yet criticism of the president on Tuesday – from both sides of the aisle, and from local, national and international leaders and civil rights icons – seemed to move past the hope that his quiet alliance with his racist base was simply a marriage of political convenience. Many began to express fear that Trump actually holds the view that the grievances of those seeking to “preserve white Christian heritage” may have some merit.

“We must be clear,” said Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives. “White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”

His counterpart in the Senate, Majority Mitch McConnell, also offered a condemnatory statement, saying it was the “responsibility” of American leaders to stand up unequivocally against those marching for racial division.

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” said McConnell, who is facing the prospect of a white power rally in his home state of Kentucky. “There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms.”

Indeed, mayors and governors across the South are now racing to take down Confederate statues with haste and as little attention as possible. The mayor of Lexington said he would expedite the removal of two statues in the county courthouse, and Baltimore authorities without prior announcement removed several statues across the city under moonlight.

Former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush issued a joint statement characterizing bigotry and antisemitism as fundamentally un-American, and a message from Barack Obama quoting Nelson Mandela on the equality of all peoples and the importance of love became the most “liked” message on Twitter of all time.

Meanwhile, foreign dignitaries in free nations that have long turned to the US for democratic and moral leadership expressed disgust at the president’s remarks, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

President Reuven Rivlin sent a message of “strength” and solidarity to American Jews, calling on them to have faith in humanity, democracy and justice.

“The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag – perhaps the most vicious symbol of antisemitism – paraded in the streets of the world’s greatest democracy, and Israel’s most cherished and greatest ally, is almost beyond belief,” Rivlin said. “I know that the great nation of the United States of America and its leaders will know how to face this difficult challenge, and prove to the world the robustness and strength of democracy and freedom.”

But the leaders of Jewish organizations were less measured.

“There are no two sides,” wrote the Anti-Defamation League, which directly condemned the president for his response. The ADL has published a guide for parents trying to steer their children through periods when “hate makes headlines.”

“We have a history in this country of presidents standing up to bigotry and hate,” said the ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt. “Today, for the second time in four days, President Trump did the opposite.”

The American Jewish Committee questioned Trump’s effort to equate hate groups with those they target. “There were perpetrators – white supremacists and neo-Nazis – who came itching for a fight,” the AJC wrote on Twitter. “Why is it so hard to see?”

Jewish members of Congress also expressed outrage, and pain, over the idea that antisemitic forces had been given a boost from the Oval Office.

“Will [Trump] look into the eyes of a Holocaust survivor,” asked Rep. Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat and Jewish member of Congress, “and tell her that even one Nazi swastika flag is okay?”

Several Jewish members of the Senate, including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, expressed revulsion over the president’s apparent endorsement of the white power event.

“As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment,” wrote Brian Schatz, another Jewish member serving as senator from Hawaii. “This is not my president.”

There were those who praised the president, however.

David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, thanked Trump for showing “honesty and courage” in condemning far-left groups that attended the Charlottesville rally in counterprotest against racist forces. And Richard Spencer, a white supremacist who coined the phrase “alt-right,” also offered his gratitude.

“I’m proud of him,” Spencer said, “for speaking the truth.”

Turmoil in Virginia touches a nerve across the country

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A Virginia college town was rocked over the weekend by violent clashes between white nationalists and hundreds of counter protesters.

Three people were killed amid the turmoil in Charlottesville, which has exposed the nation’s roiling racial and political divisions. The chaos has reverberated to the White House and Silicon Valley.

After facing mounting pressure since Saturday, President Donald Trump denounced white nationalist groups by name Monday.

A federal civil rights investigation is underway after a 20-year-old Ohio man allegedly rammed his vehicle into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and seriously injuring scores of others.

And Google said it’s canceling the registration of a neo-Nazi website after an article mocked the woman who was run over and killed.

Federal and state authorities are also investigating after two Virginia State police troopers died when their helicopter crashed outside the city.

Here’s a look at what’s happened as well as the continuing aftermath of Charlottesville’s violent weekend:

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THE PROTESTS

White nationalists descended on the city to rally against plans to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park.

An AP reporter and photographer who were on the scene Saturday estimated the white nationalist group at about 500 and the counter-protesters at double that. The gathering is believed to be the largest in a decade of such groups, including neo-Nazis, skinheads and members of the Ku Klux Klan. Hundreds of other people came out to protest against the racism.

Fights broke out Friday night, when hundreds of white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches. The violence escalated Saturday with street brawls and clashes.

Rally supporters and counter-protesters threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays. Men dressed in militia uniforms were carrying shields and long guns.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. Police in riot gear ordered people out. Helicopters circled overhead.

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THE CAR CRASH

On Saturday afternoon, a Dodge Challenger barreled through a street filled with peaceful counter protesters. The impact hurled people into the air and video of the crash shows the car reversing and hitting more people.

Heather Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville, was killed. At least 19 other people were injured.

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, told The Associated Press that Heyer was a courageous, stubborn, and principled woman. She said her daughter was a firm believer in justice and equality and died for those beliefs.

James Alex Fields Jr., who had recently moved to Ohio from where he grew up in Kentucky, was charged with second-degree murder and other counts. He’s being held in jail without bail.

Fields was fascinated with Nazism, idolized Adolf Hitler, and had been singled out in the 9th grade for his “deeply held, radical” convictions on race, his former high school teacher Derek Weimer told The AP.

Police records from Florence, Kentucky, show that Fields’ mother had called police on him twice. In an incident in 2010, his mother, Samantha Bloom, said Fields smacked her in the head and locked her in the bathroom after she told him to stop playing video games. Bloom told officers Fields was on medication to control his temper.

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THE HELICOPTER CRASH

As the violence waned Saturday, a state police helicopter deployed in a large-scale police response crashed outside the city. Both troopers onboard were killed.

Authorities identified them as Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Berke M.M. Bates, who was one day shy of his 41st birthday.

Cullen was a 23-year veteran of the department and head of the aviation unit. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Berke joined the department in 2004, and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Gov. McAuliffe frequently uses state police aircraft to travel and said Cullen had been one of his regular pilots. Before joining the aviation unit, Bates has been a member of the state trooper team that guards the governor and his family.

McAuliffe expressed grief over their deaths.

“It was personal to me,” McAuliffe said Sunday at a church service. “We were very close.”

___

THE REACTION

President Trump on Saturday condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” in Charlottesville.

The statement drew widespread ire. Democrats and some Republicans called on him to specifically denounce white supremacy. But the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website that promoted the demonstration, praised Trump’s reaction.

“Nothing specific against us,” the website stated. “No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

Pressure mounted from both political parties for Trump to explicitly condemn the hate groups. Three members of a White House advisory council — Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich — announced they were resigning from the panel in protest. Frazier said he had “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Trump said at a Monday news conference that “racism is evil” and condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “criminals and thugs.”

Google has also canceled the Daily Stormer’s website registration. The tech giant said the site violated its terms of service after an article mocked Heyer, the woman who was killed Saturday in Charlottesville.

Merkel condemns ‘disgusting’ Virginia far-right violence

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday slammed as “disgusting” the role of white supremacists in a violent protest in Virginia and an “evil attack” against counterdemonstrators that left one woman dead, her spokesman said.

In sharply worded remarks, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert expressed shock at the weekend rally by Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists in Charlottesville.

“The scenes at the right-wing extremist march were absolutely repulsive — naked racism, anti-Semitism and hate in their most evil form were on display,” he told reporters.

“Such images and chants are disgusting wherever they may be and they are diametrically opposed to the political goals of the chancellor and the entire German government.”

Seibert said Merkel stood in solidarity “with those who peacefully oppose such aggressive, far-right views.”

He underlined “how much the chancellor regrets the death of a woman who fell victim” to “an evil attack” by a car driver.

Battle lines form between white nationalists and antifa protesters at the entrance to Emancipation Park during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

Asked about possible links between German neo-Nazi groups and the Charlottesville marchers, Seibert said he was unaware of any connection and expressed confidence that US authorities would conduct a thorough investigation.

One woman died and 19 people were injured when a car ploughed into a crowd of people after the rally by white supremacists turned violent. Two state police officers died in a helicopter crash near the area.

Some of the marchers used Nazi symbols, slogans and gestures that have been explicitly banned in Germany since World War II.

Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" march down East Market Street toward Lee Park during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

US President Donald Trump has come in for virulent criticism after an initial failure to explicitly condemn the white nationalists for their role in the protest.

A full day after the violence erupted, the White House insisted Sunday that Trump’s condemnation included all such groups.

Yad Vashem warns of Nazi ideology on display in Virginia

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum on Monday condemned this weekend’s neo-Nazi rally in Virginia, saying that the ideology on display there was identical to that which led to the murder of six million Jews.

In a statement, the remembrance center said that it “is very concerned by the images, hateful rhetoric, and subsequent violence emanating from the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

“In our post-Holocaust global society, there is no room for racism or antisemitism,” the organization said. “The anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazis was a precursor to the eventual murderous policy and extermination of six million Jews. These images are yet another reminder that we must remain vigilant about educating the public regarding hatred and xenophobia.”

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky also slammed the hatred expressed by neo-Nazi participants in the march.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky attends an emergency meeting in the Knesset of the lobby for strengthening ties with the Jewish world, June 27, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In a statement Sharansky said he was horrified at the racism and hatred demonstrated at the weekend rally by Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists in Charlottesville,

“I am deeply concerned by the expressions of antisemitism and other forms of racism and hatred exhibited at the neo-Nazi rally this past weekend in Charlottesville,” he said, “and I am horrified by the death of a protester at the hands of one of the marchers. There is no place for such hate speech or violence in any democratic society, and I am confident that American authorities will do everything in their power to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Sharansky also spoke more generally about threats against Jewish students on campus, and offered specific help to local students.

“No student, Jewish or otherwise, should feel threatened at his or her university,” he said, “and Jewish students at the University of Virginia should know that the local Hillel staff is available to them at all times, as is the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at UVA.”

Members of the KKK are escorted by police past a large group of protesters during a KKK rally Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

White nationalists assembled in Charlottesville on Friday to vent their frustration against the city’s plans to take down a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Counter-protesters massed in opposition the next day. A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car was driven into a crowd of people protesting the racist rally, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 26 others. The driver was later taken into custody.

These undated photo provided by the Virginia State Police show Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, left, of Quinton, Va., and Lt. H. Jay Cullen, of Midlothian, Va. The two were killed Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, when the helicopter they were piloting crashed while assisting public safety resources during clashes at a nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. (Virginia State Police via AP)

Two Virginia state troopers were also killed when their police helicopter crashed and caught on fire while responding to clashes between white supremacist protesters and counterprotesters.

US President Donald Trump has come under mounting fire, even from members of his own party, for blaming the violence on hatred and bigotry “on many sides,” and not explicitly condemning the white extremist groups at the rally.

On Sunday, the White House released a statement clarifying that his condemnation of hate and bigotry at the “Unite the Right” Virginia rally had been in reference to the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.

Sessions Says ‘Evil Attack’ in Virginia Is Domestic Terrorism

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday that the “evil attack” in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend meets the legal definition of an act of domestic terrorism, an early declaration in an investigation after a car plowed into a crowd of protesters.

“It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute,” Mr. Sessions said on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” referring to a fatal attack on Saturday when a vehicle drove into a crowd protesting white nationalists, killing one woman and injuring others. A 20-year-old man has been arrested and charged by Virginia authorities with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at the scene of a crash that resulted in a death.

“You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation toward the most serious charges that can be brought because this is unequivocally an unacceptable evil attack,” Mr. Sessions said, adding that terrorism and civil rights investigators were working on the case.

Mr. Sessions appeared on several morning news shows on Monday, condemning the violent demonstrations over the removal of a Confederate monument and defending President Trump’s response.

Mr. Trump has been reluctant to criticize white supremacists for the weekend’s bloody protests in Charlottesville. The attorney general’s remarks were notable for being more specific and direct than the president’s in condemning the alt-right, a loose collective of far-right activists, some of whom espouse racist and anti-Semitic views.

Mr. Sessions, who is coming off weeks of pointed criticism from Mr. Trump over his performance as attorney general, was pressed to explain why the president had not forcefully condemned white nationalism.

Mr. Sessions said the president had done so, but he was referring to an unattributed White House statement on Sunday that condemned “white supremacists,” not to comments Mr. Trump made publicly.

“He said that yesterday, his spokesman did,” Mr. Sessions said on ABC.

“It came from the White House,” Mr. Sessions said on NBC’s “Today” show. “It was authorized.”

“I think we’re making too much of this,” Mr. Sessions added on “CBS This Morning.”

As United States attorney in Alabama, Mr. Sessions was accused decades ago of making racist comments, something he has denied. But critics again assailed him as racist during his Senate confirmation.

But Mr. Sessions’s record on law and order suggests a more nuanced view.

“I’ve always said he’s good on criminal civil rights enforcement, on hate crimes. I think he really cares about it,” said Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Ms. Gupta was head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division during the Obama administration. “The problem is, he’s completely unwilling to address systemic problems.”

Mr. Trump was scheduled to meet in Washington later Monday with Mr. Sessions and the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, about the Charlottesville incident, the White House said. Mr. Trump has been on vacation in New Jersey. Mr. Sessions said that Mr. Trump would speak “to the people” later on Monday.

The “domestic terrorism” language is largely symbolic — many of the law’s stiffest penalties are for international terrorism that do not apply domestically. But the debate over language has raged for more than a decade, as Muslim groups in particular argue that the word terrorism is used only when the attackers are Muslim.

By declaring the attack to be domestic terrorism, Mr. Sessions is moving quickly to quell a debate that swirled after the 2015 shooting of a historically black church in South Carolina. Dylann S. Roof, a South Carolina man who had once worn white supremacist patches, killed nine people in that attack. Loretta E. Lynch, the attorney general at the time, declared hate crimes “the original domestic terrorism.” But some civil rights groups wanted her to go farther.

Under federal law that was expanded after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a violation of federal or state criminal law qualifies as domestic terrorism if it appears to be intended to coerce or intimidate a civilian population or to coerce the policy of the government. But domestic terrorism carries no additional penalties. Investigators rely on charges like murder and assault in prosecuting these crimes.

The Justice Department announced over the weekend that it was opening a civil rights investigation into the Charlottesville incident.

‘I’m not the angry racist they see’: Alt-Righter became viral face of hate in Virginia — and now regrets it

A white nationalist who attends the University of Nevada, Reno says that he is not the “angry racist” that is portrayed in a viral photo of him carrying a torch at a white nationalist protest rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Peter Cvjetanovic, 20, told KTVN that he traveled from Reno to Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The student said that he wanted to attend the rally to support the white nationalist movement.

“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture,” Cvjetanovic opined. “It is not perfect; there are flaws to it, of course. However I do believe that the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.”

Cvjetanovic said that he never expected the frightening photo of him to go viral.
“I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was,” he noted. “I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”

Cvjetanovic added: “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”

Jewish leaders condemn Charlottesville violence and Trump’s reaction

(JTA) — Jewish groups and Jewish leaders condemned the violence at a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, and criticized President Donald Trump for saying that the hatred and violence came from “many sides.”

“The vile presence and rhetoric of the neo-Nazis who marched this weekend in Charlottesville is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to stand strong, to speak loudly against hate, and act both to delegitimize those who spread such messages and to mitigate the harm done to the commonweal of our nation and to those that are the targets of hate messages,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in statement issued on Saturday evening, adding that “once again, hate has killed.

Three people were killed as a result of the weekend neo-Nazi event. One woman was killed and 19 injured, some seriously, after a car driven by an Ohio man slammed into a crowd of counterprotesters. The driver, identified as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, was taken into police custody and the incident is under investigation.

Two Virginia state troopers were killed when their police helicopter crashed and caught on fire while responding to clashes between white supremacist protestors and counterprotesters.

“We commend the opening of President Trump’s statement condemning the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” but are deeply troubled by the moral equivalence evident in President Trump’s statement today. White supremacists wielding Nazi flags and spewing racist vitriol need to be specifically condemned, not only violence and hate ‘on many sides.’ If our leaders can’t call out this virulent strand of hate we will surely fail to stop it,” Jacobs also said in his statement.

Trump held a news conference from his summer vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey after posting tweets criticizing the violence in Charlottesville, including one which read: “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!”

“What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society,” he also tweeted.

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!

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, condemned the “inconceivable violence” on display in Charlottesville.

““It is utterly distressing and repugnant that such hatred and bigotry still run rampant in parts of this country. There is no place in our democratic society for such violence and intolerance. We must be vigilant and united in our opposition to such abhorrence,” he said in a statement.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the violence in Charlottesville in a tweet posted Saturday afternoon. “Mayhem in #charlottesville. We pray for victims of #violence & condemn those who marched thru streets chanting #hate,” he tweeted.

He also praised Trump for condemning the violence but criticized him for not specifically condemning the white supremacist movement. “Glad @POTUS blasted violence but long overdue for moral ldrshp that condemns the agents of #hate: #WhiteSupremacists, #NeoNazis, #AltRight,” he tweeted.

Mayhem in . We pray for victims of  & condemn those who marched thru streets chanting http://cnn.it/2uBsLqI 

Photo published for Torch-bearing white nationalists march ahead of alt-right rally

Torch-bearing white nationalists march ahead of alt-right rally

Alt-right activists held torches and marched late Friday through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville.

edition.cnn.com

 

 

In a statement later issued by ADL, Greenberg said: “This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.”

“We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people,” he also said.

The American Jewish Committee tweeted: “Appalled by white supremacists & neo-Nazis in #Charlottesville preaching #racism, spewing #antiSemitism & #homophobia & glorifying violence.”

The organization also called on Trump to find “moral clarity.”

“@POTUS Time for moral clarity. Condemning ‘hatred, bigotry & violence on many sides’ blurs truth & gives pass to neo-Nazi perpetrators,” AJC tweeted.

Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, and Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennett, who is head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, condemned the rally and called on U.S. leaders to denounce the anti-Semitism connected to it.

“The unhindered waving of Nazi flags and symbols in the U.S. is not only offensive towards the Jewish community and other minorities, it also disrespects the millions of American soldiers who sacrificed their lives in order to protect the U.S. and entire world from the Nazis,” he said in a statement, adding: “The leaders of the U.S. must condemn and denounce the displays of anti-Semitism seen over the past few days.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who was a former candidate for president, in a tweet slammed Trump for his handling of Charlottesville. “No, Mr. President. This is a provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism and hatred and create violence. Call it out for what it is.”

No, Mr. President. This is a provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism and hatred and create violence. Call it out for what it is. https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/896455824767426560 

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who ran for and lost his bid for a Senate seat in Louisiana, and was an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s presidential run, tweeted in response to Trump’s call for all Americans to unite against hate.

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” Duke tweeted.

I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/896420822780444672 

In Charlottesville, signs of a hatred that shocked a nation

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — He came all the way from Tennessee. He took time off from his job as a security guard, time away from his two children. He paid for a plane and a hotel room so he could be present for what he thought would be a profound moment that could shift the nation’s consciousness.

Benji Buckles, 24, wanted to be there for Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally here in a quaint town that is home to the University of Virginia. The posh college was founded by Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of the United States and its third president. It is also the alma mater of Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and one of the leading figures of the alt-right who helped organize the gathering.

The alt-right — an amorphous designation that includes among its ranks an array of white supremacist groups, white nationalists and neo-Nazis — was the cause that motivated Buckles’ trip to join the rally protesting the city’s plans to remove a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.

Talking in the city’s barren, quiet streets after the day’s chaos, which culminated in a 20-year-old Ohio man ramming a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others, Buckles said he did not identify himself as a white nationalist or neo-Nazi.

Rather, he said, he was part of the “alt-libertarian” faction of the alt-right, which he could not quite define, but described as opposed to “postmodernism and collectivism.”

But when asked by The Times of Israel if he agreed with some of the central themes and chants of the rally, like whether whites are being oppressed in America, and if he was disturbed by the ubiquitous Nazi regalia throughout the rally, and what he thought of the calls of “Jews will not replace us,” the young man was less than disapproving.

“There’s no issue with self-advocacy, in the form of saying, ‘We will not be replaced.’”

The day

On Friday, the Anti-Defamation League published a report saying the upcoming rally would be the “largest white supremacist gathering in a decade.” On Saturday, it proved to be the bloodiest as well. This bucolic town, which in one week will have thousands of students descend upon its famous Georgian-style campus, will never forget it.

After hundreds of torch-wielding white supremacists marched through the campus Friday night, chanting racist slogans and clashing with groups of counter-protesters, Saturday erupted into more mayhem.

Even before the car ramming, there were tirades of racial taunting and explosions of violence. The Washington Post’s Joe Heim reported on Twitter that white men holding a Confederate flag screamed at a black woman passing them by to “go back to Africa,” and called her a “nigger.” Episodes like this were happening alongside skirmishes of pushing and shoving, as well as outright fighting.

A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)

Things quickly got to the point where Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and asked the National Guard to join local and state police to help clear the area and defuse the situation.

That was before the fatal car-ramming that left a 32-year-old woman dead. Video captured showed a Dodge Challenger driving headlong into a sea of people, and then putting the car into reverse to escape. The alleged assailant was later identified as James Alex Fields Jr.

Opponents of the alt-right across the country also wanted to be present at the historic event, long before the events of the day unfolded.

“I’m down here because I think it’s all of our responsibility to stop fascism that’s happening in America. And I don’t say that ’cause it’s hyperbole,” said Emma Kaplan, who came to Charlottesville from Brooklyn. “I know what that means. I’m a second generation Holocaust survivor. My great grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz.”

Emma Kaplan, 30, stands next to a memorial for the victim a car ramming attack at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, on August 12, 2017 (Eric Cortellessa/Times of Israel)

The 30-year-old said she saw a resemblance between the rally’s tactics and what her great grandparents experienced in 1930s Europe.

“How it started was targeting different groups. These groups are the enemies. These are the undesirables. And then whipping up of the mobs to go after them. I mean, running over these protesters. I can’t help but think of Kristallnacht. The way they were going to go terrorize people, and they way the came with torchlights last night, outside of a church, a place of worship. This is very, very dangerous.”

Kaplan spoke with The Times of Israel shortly after US President Donald Trump addressed the nation, saying he condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides, on many sides.”

His words quickly prompted outrage, as many saw them as suggesting an equivalence between the white supremacists and the counter-protesters, while pointedly failing to specify who was in the wrong.

A memorial in McGuffey Park for the victim who died in a car ramming at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, on August 12, 2017. (Eric Cortellessa/Times of Israel)

Standing next to a memorial set up in Charlottesville’s McGuffey Park for the person who was killed in the car-ramming, Kaplan noted Trump’s words from an hour earlier and some of his 2016 campaign rhetoric, which alt-right figures cite when they explain their support for the president. She pointed at the display and said, “This is what Trump unleashed.”

“It’s chilling,” she added. “It’s chilling, but it’s reality, and we have to deal with it.”

For the rest of the day, the White House stood by the declaration that “many sides” were to blame for what happened in Charlottesville. It wasn’t until 12:09 p.m. on Sunday, after the controversy dominated headlines and cable news for hours, that an administration spokesperson — not Trump himself — tried to quell the consternation.

“The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” the official said in an email. “Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”

Here in Charlottesville, it’s hard to imagine Americans as different as Bickles and Kaplan heeding Trump’s appeal.

Protests, vigils around US decry white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

SEATTLE (AP) — Protesters decrying hatred and racism converged around the country on Sunday, saying they felt compelled to counteract the white supremacist rally that spiraled into deadly violence in Virginia.

The gatherings spanned from a planned march to President Donald Trump’s home in New York to a candlelight vigil in Florida. In Seattle, police made arrests and confiscated weapons as Trump supporters and counter-protesters converged downtown.

Some focused on showing support for the people whom white supremacists’ condemn. Other demonstrations were pushing for the removal of Confederate monuments, the issue that initially prompted white nationalists to gather in anger this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Still other gatherings aimed to denounce fascism and a presidential administration that organizers feel has let white supremacists feel empowered.

“People need to wake up, recognize that and resist it as fearlessly as it needs to be done,” said Carl Dix, a leader of the Refuse Fascism group organizing demonstrations in New York, San Francisco and other cities. “This can’t be allowed to fester and to grow because we’ve seen what happened in the past when that was allowed.”

“It has to be confronted,” said Dix, a New Yorker who spoke by phone from Charlottesville Sunday afternoon. He’d gone there to witness and deplore the white nationalist rally on a Saturday that spiraled into bloodshed.

Protesters listen during a "Peace and Sanity" rally Sunday Aug. 13, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during a rally about white supremacy violence in Charlottesville, Va. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)

In Seattle, hundreds of demonstrators and counter-protesters converged downtown. Police say they have made arrests and confiscated weapons. Police also ordered crowds at one downtown intersection to disperse.

Blocks away, a conservative pro-Trump group was rallying at Westlake Park in downtown. The rally organized by the conservative pro-Trump group known as Patriot Prayer — and a counter protest aimed at standing against hate — were previously planned for Sunday. Patriot Prayer has held similar events throughout the Pacific Northwest and they have been met by counter protests.

A barricade separated the groups of protesters as police officers stood by dressed in black riot gear. At one intersection, police ordered crowds to disperse.

The Seattle Times reported that officers used pepper spray on some marchers. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people had been arrested.

Protesters listen during a "Peace and Sanity" rally Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during a rally about white supremacy violence in Charlottesville, Va. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)

In Denver, several hundred demonstrators gathered beneath a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in City Park and marched about two miles to the state Capitol. In Fort Collins, Colorado, marchers chanted “Everyone is welcome here. No hate, no fear.” One demonstrator’s sign said, “Make racists ashamed again.”

Other protests were planned later in the day in other places, including candlelight vigils in Winter Haven, Florida, and near the New Hampshire Statehouse. Other demonstrations centered on confederate statues on the state Capitol grounds in West Virginia and in Tampa, Florida; officials in Tampa have voted to relocate theirs.

The Florida chapter of the group Save Southern Heritage released a statement Sunday expressing “horror and disbelief” over the deaths in Charlottesville, Virginia, but also blaming news reports for “renewed attacks on Florida’s historical assets,” including the Tampa Confederate war memorial.

City Councilman Brad Lander, center, address protesters at a "Peace and Sanity" rally Sunday Aug. 13, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during a rally about white supremacy violence in Charlottesville, Va., (AP /Bebeto Matthews)

Charlottesville descended into violence Saturday after neo-Nazis, skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists gathered to “take America back” and oppose plans to remove a Confederate statue in the Virginia college town, and hundreds of other people came to protest the rally. The groups clashed in street brawls, with hundreds of people throwing punches, hurling water bottles and beating each other with sticks and shields.

Eventually, a car rammed into a peaceful crowd of anti-white-nationalist protesters, killing a woman. A state police helicopter monitoring the events crashed into the woods, killing two troopers. In all, dozens of people were injured. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)

Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer, who attended the rally, denied all responsibility for the violence. He blamed the counter-protesters and police.

Trump condemned what he called an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” a statement that Democrats and some of the president’s fellow Republicans saw as equivocating about who was to blame. The White House later added that the condemnation “includes white Supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

Some of the white nationalists at Saturday’s rally cited Trump’s victory, after a campaign of racially charged rhetoric, as validation for their beliefs. Some of the people protesting Sunday also point to the president and his campaign, saying they gave license to racist hatred that built into what happened in Charlottesville.

“For those who questioned whether ‘oh, don’t call it fascism’ … this should resolve those issues,” Reiko Redmonde, an organizer of a Refuse Fascism protest planned in San Francisco, said by phone. “People need to get out in the streets to protest, in a determined way.”