TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Tribune-Star) - U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, condemned the “hate, bigotry and violence” that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend as he spoke in Terre Haute on Thursday.
Our newsgathering partners at the Terre Haute Tribune-Star report Young spoke at a Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce members luncheon and, later in the day, visited the CANDLES Holocaust Museum, where museum founder and Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor gave him a tour and told him of her message of forgiveness.
Reacting to President Donald Trump’s response to the hate-driven violence in Charlottesville, Young said, “I don’t think he’s responded like most of us would expect a president to respond under the circumstances.”
Asked if Trump’s words may be encouraging some of the hate groups, Young said, “That’s certainly been the opinion of many.”
Thursday marked Young’s first visit to Terre Haute since he was sworn in to Congress in January. He also made stops at the Wabash Valley Health Center and Hamilton Center, and he was scheduled to speak in the evening at the annual Ronald Reagan dinner of the Vigo County Pachyderm Club.
At his noon address, Young immediately turned to the events in Charlottesville.
“We must condemn hate, bigotry, the violence associated with that bigotry, white supremacy and related phenomenon and groups, neo-Nazis and so forth,” he said.
“There is just no place for that in the United States of America. It’s un-American. It’s anti-American in this pluralistic country. That should not be controversial in the year 2017.”
In recent days, Young also has used social media twice to make his stance known.
On Tuesday evening, he tweeted, “This is simple: we must condemn and marginalize white supremacist groups, not encourage and embolden them.” The comment, and those of other House and Senate Republican and Democrat members, was published in a Politico article with the headline, “Ryan, House and Senate GOP outraged by Trump news conference.”
On Saturday, Young had tweeted, “The love & compassion I see from Hoosiers daily is stronger than the fringe hatred on display in #Charlottesville. The former will prevail.”
President Trump has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for his shifting reaction to Charlottesville. He initially laid blame “on many sides,” failing to pinpoint, by name, the hate groups that carried out the rally. Two days later, under pressure, the president finally did so, describing the KKK, neo-Nazis and supremacy organizations as “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
A day later, Trump reverted, again equating the marchers with those protesting the rally.
In an interview during his tour of the Holocaust Museum, Young again condemned the hate groups that rallied last weekend. “We are a pluralistic country that respects the dignity of every human being and celebrates our differences. So we need to condemn those sorts of sentiments, but most especially, we need to condemn people who violently act on account of those views,” he said.
“At the same time, we need to be careful not to encourage or empower these [hate] groups, but instead to marginalize them, because I know Indiana. I know Hoosiers. I think I have a pretty good sense of what is in most Americans’ hearts, and most Americans are very, very good people who are not represented by these fringe elements.”
Visiting the CANDLES Holocaust Museum, he said he knew of Eva Kor and her “compelling story,” but it was his first time to meet her and tour CANDLES. “We wanted to make this a priority on this visit,” he said. His staff made him aware of the center and its mission to promote forgiveness.
As he entered the museum, he told Kor, “Thank you so much for all you’ve done to inspire so many.”
Prior to Young’s visit, Kor was asked her reaction to events in Charlottesville. “It’s very sad. It’s terrible. I’m 100 percent against the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan. I didn’t know they had that much chutzpah [shameless audacity] to really show their faces,” she said. “I’m against all people who want to fight and kill and hurt.”
“Can I do anything to change it? So you know what? I forgive all of them,” she said. “I do have control over how I relate to it ... Can you imagine if we had 100,000 people who said to these monsters, ‘We forgive you — you don’t know what you are doing.’”
Forgiving them “puts me at peace and maybe I can teach them something,” she said, and she hopes her example “maybe in some way promotes peace in the world.”