UN criticizes Trump for ‘failure’ to unequivocally condemn racist speech

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has said that the US leadership failed to unconditionally condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville and across the country.

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The body has criticized the US “failure at the highest political level to unequivocally reject racist violent events,” the UN said in a statement Wednesday.

Under its “early warning and urgent action” procedure, the committee has called on US leaders to clearly “condemn racist hate speech and crimes in Charlottesville and throughout the country.”

CERD also called on the US government to “ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are not exercised with the aim of destroying or denying the rights and freedoms of others.”

Although the statement does not mention President Donald Trump by name, it appears to refer to his initial response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, where white supremacists clashed with counter-protesters.

One woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a car driven by an alleged white supremacist slammed into a group of counter-protesters later in the day.

Before the fatal incident, Trump called the fighting an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” including the counter-protesters armed with bats, sticks and pepper spray. Trump later condemned white supremacists but maintained that there was “blame on both sides” for the violence, sparking further media outrage.

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At his rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday, the president accused the media of misreporting his remarks about Charlottesville and ignoring the parts where he condemned the white supremacists.

“I hit ‘em with neo-Nazi,” he said. “I hit ‘em with everything. I got the white supremacist, the neo-Nazi. I got ‘em all in there. Let’s see. KKK? We have KKK. I got ‘em all. So they’re having a hard time. So what did they say, right? ‘It should have been sooner. He’s a racist,’” Trump said at the rally.

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Last week, five armed services chiefs — of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines and the National Guard Bureau — issued statements condemning racism and stating that diversity makes their forces stronger.

“In no way can we accept or apologize for racism, bigotry, hatred or violence,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last Wednesday.

“We condemn racism. We condemn bigotry in all of its forms. Racism is evil. It is antithetical to American values. It’s antithetical to the American idea,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated on Friday.

That day, all but one member of the President’s Committee to the Arts and Humanities resigned in protest over President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville.

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A number of business executives had earlier left the president’s advisory councils for the same reason. Trump then announced that he was disbanding the councils.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump tweeted.

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