Over the weekend, the country's turbulent political climate was amplified when KKK members, neo-Nazis and white supremacists clashed with anti-racism protestors and police in Charlottesville, Virginia over the planned removal of a statue of confederate leader Robert E. Lee. Since then, president Donald Trump has responded with two statements, both of which have drawn criticism and outrage, the latest controversy erupting Tuesday afternoon during a press conference at Trump Tower.
On Saturday, Trump issued a statement that was greeted by members of both parties as milquetoast at best and willfully ignorant at worst: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." A second statement followed on Monday, with the White House finally succumbing to overwhelming criticism: "Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America."
Today, after a hostile homecoming, Trump added to those in a reportedly "impromptu" press conference where he delivered a convoluted defense of the Charlottesville racists, saying "the press has treated them absolutely unfairly."
"You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch," Donald Trump said. "But there is another side. There was a group on this side — you can call them the left, you just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that's the way it is. I think there's blame on both sides."
Trump also argued against the removal of the statue of the late confederate general, explaining "George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status?...Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? OK, good. Are we going to take down his statue, because he was a major slave owner...You're changing history, you're changing culture, and you had people—and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly."
These words didn't sit well with many around the globe, including handfuls of celebrities who were quick to call out the inherent racism in his statements, from Lady Gaga to J.K. Rowling and more. Take a look at their reactions to Trump below.
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