During an interview on CNN’s The Lead on Tuesday, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) defended President-elect Donald Trump’s delayed disavowal of his white supremacist supporters by saying that anti-Trump and “Black Lives Matter” protesters are just as “disgusting, for different ways.”
In response to CNN guest host Jim Sciutto’s point that Trump didn’t quickly dismiss his support from white nationalists, Duffy pivoted and tried to pin the blame on President Barack Obama.
Duffy said that while he didn’t share the same viewpoints as white supremacists, Obama should have condemned “Black Lives Matter” and anti-Trump protesters for alleged violent incidents across the country after Trump was elected earlier this month.
DUFFY: [Trump] did condemn them and that’s a good thing. Someone who says, ‘they maybe endorse me, but I don’t endorse their viewpoint of the world.’ Again, I think it’s important that a leader step forward and make the right move, which is what he did. My concern is that Barack Obama, when he had a chance, didn’t condemn the riots across America that were in protest of Donald Trump’s victory in the election or didn’t condemn ‘Black Lives Matter.’ It might have taken him time in your viewpoint or in another’s viewpoint, but he did the right thing.
SCIUTTO: You’re equating Americans protesting a politician with outright hate and bigotry from a group that was using the Hitler salute to celebrate Donald Trump’s victory and are nothing more than white supremacists? I mean, that’s not a fair comparison.
DUFFY: No, no, no. Both are disgusting, for different ways.
SCIUTTO: You’re putting them on equal footing? You’re putting political protests on a footing with white supremacists?
DUFFY: Let me explain. I think this is a horrible group, don’t share their values or their viewpoint. But you have people taking to the streets and damaging property, pulling people out of cars and beating them up, little girls getting beaten up in schools for supporting Donald Trump. This was violence on American streets. So they’re different kind of activity by each group, but both groups need to be condemned.
It’s one thing if you stand on the sidewalk and hold a sign in protest. That’s the American 1st Amendment right to protest. But when you get violent and you damage property and you hurt people, that’s something completely different.
Duffy’s comments cast aside historical evidence that white supremacists have a well-documented and fearful past filled with violence against minorities in this country. But his comments are also wrong.
After Trump won the election in early November, “Black Lives Matters” and anti-Trump protesters did not riot to the extent that the Republican congressman suggested. There were mostly peaceful demonstrations across the country for several days. There were a few isolated instances of more destructive protests led by a “smaller segment” of “anarchist-types,” according to a police department official in Portland, Oregon.
Meanwhile, there have been hundreds of incidents of hate crimes committed against people of color, blacks, Muslims, immigrants, and women since Trump’s win.