Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush released a joint statement on Wednesday condemning “racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred” a day after President Donald Trump suggested white supremacists weren’t entirely to blame for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
Trump on Tuesday all but retracted his condemnation of white supremacist groups, saying that counterprotesters, which he dubbed the “alt-left,” bore as much responsibility for the violence as hate groups. His comments were praised by white supremacists like former KKK leader David Duke and Richard Spencer. Trump’s remarks have otherwise been widely condemned.
Both Bush presidents didn’t mention Trump by name but said unequivocally that America must always condemn hate.
“America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms,” they said in their statement. “As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”
Trump on Tuesday also said taking down monuments to confederate heroes like Gen. Robert E. Lee could lead to the removal of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson monuments.
David Maraniss, a presidential biographer, had suggested all the living former presidents release a joint statement condemning Trump and calling on him to resign.