Statement on Charlottesville Violence

Former Congressman Ron Klein, board member of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), released the following statement regarding yesterday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia:

"For those Americans who thought that Donald Trump, as President, would be any different than Donald Trump, presidential candidate (or businessman), we were once again horrified, when the President half-heartedly condemned "many sides" for the outcome of domestic terrorism that played out in our streets.  We shouldn't be surprised, since he gave these same criminals a wink and a nod during his campaign rallies and offered vague statements about their activities which enhanced their support and voter turnout on his behalf.  However, he is now President, and like it or not, this isn't a game of politics.  It is the fabric and foundation of our society that is being challenged.  Without the President's clear and unambiguous statements, commitment and follow through against these elements, they will continue to threaten and foment racism and bigotry in our country.  Even more importantly, it is not just these brazen individuals who showed up in Charlottesville, there are many people throughout our country who quietly voted for or silently acquiesced and supported Trump because of some of these positions.

"We, as Jews, have a long history of understanding what happens when bigotry and intolerance are allowed to fester and not be challenged or put down.  We know what happened in the most sophisticated, enlightened country in Europe in the 20th century and how various parts of its society, over time, embraced anti-Semitism in a way that humanity had never experienced.  What is happening in our country now is something that we have not experienced before.  While it is not focused on Jews alone, make no mistake about it, because of our small, but prominent place in our society, we are an easy target.

"The point of these observations is that we, as a community, need to be politically active and ready to focus on candidates and elected officials at every level of government to educate and reinforce positions against these organized groups, and equally important, against those more subtle messages that threaten the fundamental value of freedom in our country."