Democratic leaders responded to reports of violence and racial clashes at a white nationalist rally in Virginia on Saturday with calls for introspect on matters of racial hatred.
Former President Barack Obama sent a rare tweet Saturday night quoting civil rights icon and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela in an apparent response to the violence in Charlottesville, stressing that “love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Obama, who has largely strayed from making public comments since exiting the White House in January, took to Twitter to quote from 1994 autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” on a day mired by racial violence and tension in the state of Virginia, including the mayhem caused by a car barreling into a crowd of protesters.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite,” the former president wrote in a series of tweets, quoting Mandela’s 1994 autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.”
Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of state and the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, chimed on Twitter by calling on political leaders to “to be strong in their words & deliberate in their actions” in the face of Saturday’s upheavel.
“The incitement of hatred that got us here is as real and condemnable as the white supremacists in our streets.,” Clinton tweeted. “Every minute we allow this to persist through tacit encouragement or inaction is a disgrace, & corrosive to our values.”
Former Vice President Al Gore took a more blunt approach, directly criticizing President Donald Trump’s response to the violent clashes,
“Mr. President, for the sake of your country, I would urge you to try again,” Gore said in response to Trump’s address on the matter. “Mr. President, I would urge you to give more thought to what it means to have a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi movement marching and creating this kind of hatefulness.”
He added: “The country would be better served if the President would come back before the people and think of a more thoughtful and appropriate statement about how we can understand what’s going on in American and how we go forward.”
Hundreds of protesters clashed with white supremacists during a rally in Virginia, resulting in the deaths of three and injuries of dozens more. The rally, held to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, is believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in over a decade, according to the Associated Press.
The driver of the vehicle that plowed into the crowd was identified as James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio. He was according to the Associated Press, charged with second-degree murder and other charges.
Trump addressed the violence from his golf resort in New Jersey on Saturday, saying he condemned in “the strongest possible terms this degree of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides” in display in Virginia, adding that he found the situation “very, very sad.”