With United States President Donald Trump increasingly isolated over his response to white nationalist violence in Virginia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a broad condemnation of racism on Friday (August 18) and promised to make his department more racially diverse.
Trump is facing a widening backlash among fellow Republicans, business leaders and even sports stars since the violence last Saturday in the Virginia city of Charlottesville arising from a rally by white nationalists. The crisis could further imperil his policy agenda, which includes tax cuts.
Tillerson invoked the 1865 second inaugural address by Abraham Lincoln, the president who freed the slaves and presided over the Civil War against rebellious pro-slavery Confederate Southern states. As the war drew to a close, Lincoln asked the nation to bind up its wounds from the conflict, Tillerson noted.
“We, too, today should seek to bind up the wounds,” Tillerson told participants in a State Department fellowship program. “We must pursue reconciliation, understanding, and respect regardless of skin color, ethnicity or religious or political views.”
He announced a new State Department policy in which at least one candidate for any opening for an ambassador post must be a minority, noting that currently, only about 12 percent of U.S. senior foreign service officers are non-white.
Tillerson did not mention Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville violence, which erupted as white nationalists protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Hundreds gathered at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil in response to the nationalist rallies over the weekend in the Virginia town.
The rally was followed by another nationalist gathering on Saturday that took a violent turn after a suspected white nationalist crashed his car into anti-racist demonstrators.
The car plowed into the rally opponents killing one and several others were left injured in the violence.
The fall-out from the incident has become the biggest domestic challenge faced yet by President Donald Trump, who was assailed from across the political spectrum over his initial response blaming “many sides” for the unrest.
United Nations human rights experts called on the United States on Wednesday to combat rising racist violence and xenophobia and to prosecute perpetrators of hate crimes.
United States President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that both left- and right-wing extremists had become violent during a weekend rally by white nationalists in Virginia, reigniting a political firestorm over race relations in the United States and his own leadership of a national crisis.
After clashes between the two sides at Saturday’s (August 12) rally, a car ploughed into opponents of the gathering, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.
A 20-year-old Ohio man, James Fields, said to have harboured Nazi sympathies, was charged with murder.
Independent U.N. experts said in a joint statement issued in Geneva that they were “outraged” by the violence in Charlottesville and the “racial hatred displayed by right-wing extremists, white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups.”
The statement was issued by Sabelo Gumedze, chair of the U.N. working group of experts on people of African descent, Mutuma Ruteere, U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, and Anastasia Crickley, chair of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
United States President Donald Trump hit back on Tuesday at business leaders who quit a presidential advisory panel in protest over his response to a rally by far-right groups that turned deadly in Virginia.
Trump has faced a storm of criticism from Democrats and members of his own Republican Party over his initial response to Saturday’s violence around the rally in the Southern college town of Charlottesville.
Three business leaders quit a Trump panel in protest on Monday and on Tuesday, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said on Twitter he was also resigning “because it is the right thing for me to do.”
Wal-Mart Stores Inc Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon, the biggest private employer in the United States with 1.5 million employees, said he would remain on the council “to help bring people together” but criticized the president. Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky also said he would remain on the panel.