ADL Unconvinced by Trump’s Condemnation of KKK and White Supremacists
President Donald Trump finally issued a strident condemnation of white supremacist groups on Monday afternoon, denouncing by name the Ku Klux Klan and other neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations whose violent actions at Saturday’s far right rally in Charlottesville, Va., included a car ramming attack that resulted in the death of one anti-racist protester.
“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,” Trump said.
“Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America,” the president declared.
But one leading US Jewish organization said that Trump’s statement – which came after two days of intense pressure from Republicans and Democrats for the president to call out those responsible for the violence by name – wasn’t enough.
“Let’s be clear: I think we should expect a leader in the highest office in the land to step above the lowest possible bar,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt on a Monday afternoon media conference call. “We need to move from words to real action.”
Greenblatt urged the White House to adopt a plan of action to confront white supremacist ideology, through such measures as “training every single law enforcement officer” to deal appropriately with hate crime, as well as increasing funds for anti-bias programs at the Department of Education.
But the ADL leader courted controversy when he asserted that Trump needed to ensure that there were no “links” between the current White House staff and white supremacist organizations.
“Individuals who are associated with, for example, the alt-right found their way into positions of authority in the West Wing,” Greenblatt said.
Referring to Saturday’s car ramming attack, Greenblatt continued, “If this indeed was an act of terror, the president should make sure that no-one on his staff has ties to terrorists.”
Asked whether he had any particular White House officials in mind, Greenblatt replied, “I think the appropriate thing is to use the Department of Justice and the Office of Government Ethics to do an investigation and make that determination for themselves.” Pressed on whether this might include senior White House officials Steven Bannon and Sebastian Gorka – both of whom have strongly denied frequent accusations of being connected with white supremacist groups – Greenblatt answered, “it’s certainly possible.”