President Donald Trump on Thursday condemned the “foolish” removal of Confederate statues whose preservation has become a rallying cry for white supremacists, saying US culture and history were being “ripped apart.”
A top Republican senator joined other members of his party meanwhile in criticizing the president, saying Trump had not displayed the stability or competence needed to lead the country and risks putting it in “great peril.”
Shrugging off a barrage of bipartisan criticism, Trump waded back into the charged racial debate over monuments to the pro-slavery Civil War South with a volley of early morning tweets.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Trump said.
Trump has come under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike for insisting that anti-racism protestors were equally to blame for violence last weekend at a rally staged by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 other people injured when an Ohio man suspected of being a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Trump — who rose to political prominence by casting doubt on whether Barack Obama, America’s first black president, was born in the United States — has been deluged with demands to unambiguously disavow white hate groups, whose members have been emboldened by his election.
Trump did condemn neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan on several occasions this week — but many say he did not go far enough. He has earned rebukes from across the political spectrum, even from former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.