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Originally published: August 16, 2017

Calls Upon Him to Disavow Hate Groups, Denounce Bigotry and Violence, and Unite and Heal the United States

Statement by Randy Mastro
Chair, Citizens Union

Since its inception 120 years ago, Citizens Union, New York’s pre-eminent non-partisan good government group committed to uniting New Yorkers to build a better democracy, has focused on demanding more of our local government and local elected officials. For the first time in its history, Citizens Union must speak out and demand more of the President of the United States. A leader, who, in the wake of the Charlottesville horror, has done irreparable damage to the reputation of our country and the democratic principles for which it stands, defended the indefensible and given encouragement to racists to bring their platform of hate and violence to other cities.

Yesterday, Mr. President was a day that will live in infamy. Your words and actions at yesterday’s press conference were not only disturbing; they were repugnant and reprehensible. What we need now is not further equivocation but strong leadership that condemns these racist groups and embraces diversity as a cornerstone of our democratic society.

No, Mr. President, those standing with white supremacists and neo-Nazis are not “very fine people.” No, Mr. President, there are not “many sides” to this story. There is only right and wrong, and bigotry is simply wrong. In any responsible democracy, there must be zero tolerance for these vile racist thugs. Surely, there is no place for them here in New York, because, while we are a haven for free speech, we will not condone hate and violence.

So, Mr. President, our nation deserves better than this from you, and we here in New York — your home state and city — demand it. We, therefore, call upon you to disavow anyone associated with these hate groups, denounce their bigotry and the violence they are generating, and commit your administration to uniting and healing this country, not dividing it.

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