Several white nationalist and hate groups came together in Charlottesville last weekend for a “Unite the Right” rally.
Those assembled for the rally chanted slogans like: “Jews will not replace us,” “Blood and soil,” and “White lives matter.” Others organized to protest these hate groups, and as the day went on things turned violent. Activist Heather Heyer was killed and many more were injured when a car drove into a crowd of protesters.
President Trump’s initial response to the events in Charlottesville condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” and failed to name or condemn the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists or other white supremacist groups.
Facing pressure following those remarks, Trump gave a scripted speech Monday afternoon condemning those aforementioned hate groups and calling racism “evil.”
But then, on Tuesday, Trump went off-script and doubled down on his initial comments about Charlottesville, blaming both sides and asserting that each side had “fine people” on it.
Trump’s response to this national crisis has been met with a lot of criticism and raised questions about his leadership. At a moment of crisis, presidents seek to unify the country. Trump has failed to do so in the aftermath of violence in Charlottesville.
So, can a president govern by division? Can a president who fails to denounce hate still bring the country together?
On this week’s episode of the “Can He Do That?” podcast, the award-winning Wesley Lowery — author of “They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement” — weighs in on the state of race relations in America.
Plus, we examine the history of political appeals to white fear with John A. Powell, professor of law at University of California at Berkeley and director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. And finally, we look at the ways that presidents have responded to various national crises in the past with Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and former director of speechwriting for President Bill Clinton.
Listen to the full episode below.
Each week, ‘Can He Do That?’ examines the powers and limitations of the American presidency, focusing on one area where Trump is seemingly breaking precedent. We answer the critical questions about what today’s news means for the future of the highest office in the nation.