After failing to condemn white supremacists’ Charlottesville rally organizers, Donald Trump did so. The next day, he defended them.

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN  — Violence in Charlottesville last weekend is rejected by Tennessee leaders, a few of them criticizing neo-Nazis and klansmen, most refraining from naming hate groups.

National reactions to violence, deaths and overt hate displayed Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Va. were prevalent. #Charlottesville needs no explanation. America confronted another shadow of its original sin of slavery.

After two days of pressure, President Trump said “racism is evil” and violence from it is criminal. “The K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups … are repugnant,” he said after Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the violent acts “hate crimes.”

Previously, Trump hadn’t named hate groups and was called out for criticizing others not saying radical Islamic terrorism.

“Trump and company have emboldened the Nazi’s, KKKers, and other racial misfits,” Rep. Steve Cohen, Memphis, said. “They don’t even wear hoods… They have no shame or fear of ostracism as the floor for repugnant conduct has been lowered by mocking the disabled, displaying misogynistic attitudes, and discriminating against religious groups.”

Rep. Jim Cooper, Nashville: “The hate being displayed has no place in Virginia, Tennessee, or anywhere else in the U.S. We should all stand against such bigotry.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander: “The deplorable hatred and violence in Charlottesville today defaces our most cherished values and traditions.”

Sen. Bob Corker: “We stand united against the violence and hatred in Charlottesville and pray for the victims of the attacks.”

Rep. Scott DesJarlais: “As do all good people in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District, I am saddened by the violence, condemn the criminal activity, and appreciate law enforcement’s efforts to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators.”

Gov. Bill Haslam: “Crissy and I send our sympathy and prayers to the families of the victims in Charlottesville. Senseless violence and hatred are not who we are as Americans and should be condemned by everyone.

We particularly want to express our sadness to the Tennessee families of the two Virginia troopers who lost lives.”

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry: “White supremacy, bigotry and violent extremism are shameful parts of our history that should be rejected and condemned by a decent society.

Representative Brenda Gilmore, District 54:, “Today we continue to fight to remove all symbols of hatred and racism from our public spaces. Hate has no place in our city or in our state. I am proud of the young people who have stepped up in peaceful protest. Nashville is a bedrock of the Civil Rights movement and we will continue to lead in heightening the consciousness of the nation and moving forward on these sensitive issues. No Hate in Tennessee!”

Rep. Rev. Harold M. Love, Jr., State Representative District 58:  The evil displayed in #Charlottesville should teach us a lesson about what happens when we don’t properly address racism in our society. Since the end of the Civil War we cut limbs from the tree of racism but never uprooted it. We ignored the lynching of black people and cut some limbs with a few federal laws. We ignored Jim Crow and again cut some limbs with Civil Rights Legislation. We ignored the flooding of drugs into black neighborhoods and the war on drugs that put black bodies in prison and We cut some limbs by increasing black elected officials. We ignored the many statues of soldiers from and flags flown in the Civil War having prominent place in our Public areas and We thought the election of President Barack Obama would prove that we were indeed done with racism in this country. We ignored the many instances of black lives being ended after confrontation with law enforcement. We can’t keep ignoring the fact that this tree of racism has to be removed from the root.

Nicholas S. Zeppos Chancellor of Vanderbilt University: “Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place on any college campus or in any community. We condemn those who chose to tear at the very fabric of our country and divide, rather than unite and strengthen us through diversity and inclusion. We stand with the University of Virginia and Charlottesville as they begin to focus on how to heal their communities, and continually affirm our deep and unwavering commitment to equity, inclusivity, respect and civility.”

Rev. Forrest E. Harris, Sr. Associate Professor of the Practice of Ministry, Director of the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on the African-American Church: Hate, bigotry, violence,  and anti-semitism have no place in America.

“White supremacists caused this violence   and hatred,  and this  must    never be accepted  in our communities.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. At time of divisiveness, please remember the words of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, ‘Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’

My thoughts and prayers to all of those affected.”

Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover, Ph.D., JD, CPA, President, Tennessee State University: “Americans are grieving for the pain and violence from  Charlottesville this past weekend, and I join them in rejecting racism and white nationalism as abhorrent. I  condemn  bigotry and we must take the  necessary step in tilling the ground for respect,  peace and love  to deepen their roots in every community in the United States.”

James E.K. Hildreth, M.D., president and chief executive officer President, Meharry Medical College: I am    sickened by the senseless violence committed  in Charlottesville,

and there was only one “side” that is responsible for that violence , the side bearing Nazi and Confederate flags and carrying torches. Whatever they call themselves–alt-right, white nationalist, etc.–they share one common political goal of white supremacy and demonstrated that this weekend. There is no place for these extremists and their views in America.

I believe it is paramount to denounce these groups and call them for what they are–white supremacists.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Dr. Kevin D. Rome Sr. President, Fisk University: “As a proud American and President of one of 4 Historically black colleges and universities in Nashville, I denounce in the strongest terms possible the anti-American white supremacists, KKK and neo-Nazis  members whose  bigotry, hate and violence against others because of  race and religion. While they have a right to protest – and reveal their ignorance – which is protected by our Constitution, their racist and violent goals are not protected; they are contrary to everything our nation stands for, and those who commit acts of terror must be brought to justice.

They want to  ‘take back America.’ America is not theirs to take back; it belongs to all of us, regardless of race,  religion, national origin or identity.

“I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of all of the victims of the violence.  Let’s honor their memory by showing in our actions that Americans will not condone the ugly and destructive forces of racism and hatred.”

Pastor Howard E. Jones, Jr. State Senate District 19 candidate: The conspicuously offensive killing of one woman and the injury of nearly 20 people, who were peacefully protesting  the all white nationalist rally in  Charlottesville, Virginia, is yet another example of why we must work harder together to unite this country for everyone. Policies can be reviewed, legislation drafted, laws enacted,  but we have got to instill hope in people’s hearts. As leaders, we must work toward embracing our similarities and loving each other to put us on an intentional path of building a foundation on faith.

Thomas Sheffield, Nashville: We are under full attack.  Society in general is not able to handle the richness we bring.  We are under attack from the government, the police, our employers, the economy and neo Nazis like the ones protesting in Charlottesville, VA.  They underestimate our power and faith in each other and God.  We must continue to be the ultimate survivors and outwit, outlast and outplay the enemy as we live day to day.

Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill: “Let our voices reverberate across this great nation and say one word: enough,”  “Enough. Enough of the hatred, enough of the racism. Enough. But let me make sure I say, enough of the silence.”

State Representative. Rick Staples: “Let them know that this will not happen in the state of Tennessee. This will not happen in Knoxville.”

Avoiding condemnation of those committing hate crimes, Rev. Enoch Fuzz, Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, said he has “compassion for them as victims of diabolical influences. People have been misinformed and are uninformed. These poor alt-right followers will not be defeated in a battle of hate for hate… There is now a time to overcome evil with good… Infiltrate the levels of power … and dispel ignorance … Charlottesville is one incident in thousands. A distraction from the main agenda.”

Cautioning against “repeated rhetoric that helps fuel this climate of division and derision,” NAACP Interim President Derrick Johnson said, “We … saw the familiar faces of hate and bigotry. We saw white supremacists, brandishing torches, swastikas and Confederate flags… We must stand strong, arm-in-arm with our neighbors, to speak out in one unified voice.

On CNN, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood, commented, “This has no place in civil society … No place if from the right or left.”

Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Jason Freeman countered: Blackburn “brought a white supremacist supporter to give the opening prayer in Congress in 2004…” Rev. David Jones, Lobelville, is president of The Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation and founder of Heritage Covenant Schools, Freeman said. Sept. 9, 2004, Jones chaired the Tennessee League of the South.

“It is abhorrent that Rep. Blackburn has yet to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Her statement (on CNN) made an irresponsible false equivalence and is the type of language that enables these racist organizations,” Tennessee Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini said.

At the National Press Club on Monday, Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) President Star Parker reiterated respect for election results last November and, recently, Trump’s belated speech about violence in Charlottesville.

Parker and the Rev. Marc Little, chairman of the CURE Board, support the president’s statement that called for unity.

“It is now a time for prayer,” Rev. Little said with another colleague.

On long-term urban solutions, another CURE member, political philosophy professor William Allen of Michigan State University, said, “We must end the government meddling in healthcare, education, taxation that oppresses the people.”

Virginia’s Democratic governor, Jay Robert Inslee said, “No American can ignore the disgusting hate and violence we’ve seen in Charlottesville over the last two days… It is on all of us … all the way to the President, to denounce and decry the horror we’ve seen … in Virginia… Speaking out against this hate is not enough. Our actions as a nation in response to racist, nationalist bigotry will speak louder … We can not let anyone stoke racism for political gain. We can’t ignore an attack on our people.

Rep. David Kustoff of Germantown: “Stand united against all forms of hate and prejudice. Violence like this has no place in our country. Praying for all those affected by the horrific violence in Charlottesville.”

In Charlottesville at the “Unite the Right” rally, former Klan leader David Duke said before the violence that it represents fulfilling the promises of President Trump. “We are determined to take our country back.”

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland:  “What happened in Charlottesville … is the result of hatred, pure and simple. I condemn it. White supremacists, the KKK and Nazis have no place in our city or any city. I’m also glad to see more people joining our cause to remove the Confederate statues in our city. We continue to work toward the day this is possible.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke:  Hatred and violence don’t belong in any American city. Chattanooga stands with Charlottesville against the forces trying to tear it apart.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett: “Racism, bigotry and violence have no place in this country nor in our political process. The events occurring in Charlottesville today are something we cannot stand for as a nation.”

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...