Secretary of State Tillerson Condemns Hate, Those Who Protect Hate Speech
In sharp contrast to comments made earlier this week by U.S. President Donald Trump on the white supremacists’ demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered a powerful condemnation Friday while speaking at the State Department.
The Secretary condemned both hate and those who “protect or accept hate speech” in any form.
“It was simply important to say — although I think it is well-understood and embraced, I am certain, by everyone in this room — we all know hate is not an American value, nowhere is it an American value,” Tillerson said.
The Secretary of the State said the events of the past week had raised the issues of race relations and diversity in the workplace.
“Those who embrace it poison our public discourse and they damage the very country that they claim to love,” Tillerson said. “So we condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms.”
“Racism is evil — it is antithetical to America’s values, it is antithetical to the American idea,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson said the US does “honor, protect and defend freedom of speech, First Amendment rights” but the US does “not honor, nor do we protect or accept, hate speech in any form.”
The Secretary’s remarks stand as the toughest yet by a Trump administration cabinet member against the President’s declaration at a New York news conference that there were “fine people” in the crowd of torch-bearing white supremacists, neo-Nazis and KKK members chanting phrases such as “Jews will not replace us.”
Trump also equated the actions of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with those protesting them, saying “both sides” were responsible for the violence.
Tillerson quoted from a speech by the founding President of the United States, George Washington that “a government which to bigotry gives no sanction; to persecution, no assistance,” and President Abraham Lincoln’s” bind up the nation’s wounds,” while recalling US history to illustrate the commitment to diversity, tolerance and acceptance as embedded in the country’s origins and part of its founders’ vision.
Tillerson’s remark was an indirect reference to Trump’s tweets that seemed to double down on his defense of white supremacists in the face of widespread criticism, including from the Republican Party.
“What Lincoln knew, and we are sadly reminded today, is that painful racial tensions are part of our experience as a nation,” Tillerson said. “We too, today, should seek to bind up the wounds. We must pursue reconciliation, understanding, and respect, regardless of skin color, ethnicity or religious or political views.”
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