House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday condemned white nationalists and declared that there were “no sides” to the violence at a rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“The immediate condemnations from left, right, and center affirmed that there is no confusion about right and wrong here. There are no sides,” Ryan said in a statement on Monday. “There is no other argument. We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society.”
The statement comes about a week after President Donald Trump failed to fully denounce white nationalists in the wake of a car attack at the rally that killed one counter-protester and injured at least 19 others. The President initially blamed “many sides” for the violence.
“I still firmly believe this hate exists only on the fringes. But so long as it exists, we need to talk about it. We need to call it what it is. And so long as it is weaponized for fear and terror, we need to confront it and defeat it,” Ryan’s statement continued. “That is why we all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question.”
The statement is Ryan’s most robust response to the attack and to Trump’s comments on it. Last week, the speaker wrote that “white supremacy is repulsive” shortly after Trump’s off-the-rails press conference during which he backslid into blaming “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.
We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 15, 2017
Ryan said in the statement that “the notion that anyone is intrinsically superior to anyone else runs completely counter to our founding principles.” He did not directly call out Trump, but said American leaders have a responsibility to promote those principles.
“Those principles make America special. They by no means make us perfect. We may never fully eradicate this scourge. After all, this republic is defined by its often winding pursuit of a more perfect union,” the statement read. “But it is that chase that sets us apart. It is the notion we are always trying to be better. This goes especially for our leaders. Those of us entrusted with the privilege to serve and represent the American people have an obligation to challenge us to push beyond the passions of the moment.”
Read Ryan’s full statement here.