While President Donald Trump’s botched response to this past weekend’s violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia has been widely panned, only a handful of prominent Republican elected officials have explicitly criticized the president’s blame-both-sides remarks. But one of Rhode Island’s top Republican officeholders, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, took his refusal to attack Trump a step further, suggesting that to address racism it is really minorities who should “work harder.”
Fung, the son of Chinese immigrants, was the Republican nominee for governor of Rhode Island in 2014, and has said he is seriously exploring another bid in 2018. He released a three-paragraph statement on Wednesday condemning bigotry and violence, but making no mention of Trump. “Personally acting with kindness and empathy towards all of our neighbors,” he wrote, “is more powerful than any decree from hundreds of miles away.”
Fung laid the burden on racial minorities to solve the problem of racism. “As a minority, I’ve seen my share of subtle and not so subtle racism over the years. It’s incumbent on those of us in the minority community to work harder, and by our consistent actions over months and years, truly change stereotypes. Hashtags and vigils are not enough.”
Gov. Gina Raimondo, the Democratic incumbent Fung may try to unseat, was much more critical of the president, saying that he “responded to the events this weekend with dog whistles and muddled words. I stand with Rhode Islanders from across our state against hate, racism and white supremacy. I call on President Trump and all elected and community leaders to make a clear, unequivocal statement that white supremacy, Nazism, racism and bigotry are evil and have no place in our democratic republic.”
Cranston is Rhode Island’s third-largest city. Fung was re-elected to a fourth term as Mayor last year, despite a major police scandal in the city. He was appointed in 2014 to the Republican National Committee’s national Asian Pacific American Advisory Council.