Ryan: Keep 'Moral Outrage,' Don't Get 'Numbed' to White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told constituents in a televised town hall from Racine, Wis., Monday night that he's afraid of people getting "numbed" to the white supremacists and neo-Nazis that rallied in Charlottesville, Va., and other places in the country.
Ryan praised President Trump for showing "moral clarity" in prepared remarks about Charlottesville, where counter-protesters were run over with a car driven by a suspect photographed earlier in the day rallying with neo-Nazis. Heather Heyer of Charlottesville was killed; Ryan called her slaying "an act of domestic terrorism."
Trump's off-the-cuff remarks a week ago, in which he said there were "very fine people on both sides" of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville and both sides were to blame for violence, were called "much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing" by Ryan during the CNN event.
"I do think he could have done better. I think he needed to do better," Ryan added. "...I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday, when it sounded like a moral equivocation, or at the very least moral ambiguity, when we need extreme moral clarity."
"We've got to keep our moral outrage, and we all have to stand up and speak out against this kind of bigotry so that it is never normalized, so that we don't give these people oxygen that they're looking for. They are the fringe. Let's keep them at the fringe."
Ryan emphasized "there were not any very fine people in that rally."
"I have a hard time believing, if you're standing in a crowd to protest something and you see, you know, all these anti-Semitic slogans, and the 'Heil, Hitlers' and swastikas, that you're good with that and you're a good person," he said. "You're not a good person if you're there. That's just so very clear. So I totally agree with that. And that's why I think, yeah, it's -- it was -- it was not only morally ambiguous, it was equivocating. And that was wrong. That's why I think it was very, very important that he has since then cleared that up. And I think it was important that he did that tonight."
"I don't think any of us have done enough. I think we all have a lot more to do. I think we all got a lot more to do in this area, and I think we have a lot more to do to make sure that these guys don't get normalized."
Last week, Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) introduced a resolution censuring Trump "for his inadequate response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, his failure to immediately and specifically name and condemn the white supremacist groups responsible for actions of domestic terrorism, for re-asserting that 'both sides' were to blame and excusing the violent behavior of participants in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally, and for employing people with ties to white supremacist movements in the White House, such as Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka."