Thank you for contacting me regarding the atrocious events that took place in Charlottesville, VA on August 12th and the comments made by President Trump in the aftermath of this tragedy. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to share my responses with you.
Our country is rightfully outraged, angered, and saddened by this violent and hateful incident. You should know that on August 12th, I issued the following statement:
"I condemn this hate and violence in the strongest possible terms. Hate is a dangerous thing. What happened today goes against our nation's character. Demonstrations by white nationalists to spread hate and intolerance are a stain on our national identity as an open, inclusive country that welcomes diversity."To expand on these thoughts, I wrote an Op/Ed on the hate-filled violence and rhetoric that ignited in Charlottesville. This piece, entitled “Hate is a Dangerous Thing,” ran in the Pottstown Mercury on August 16th. To read that piece in full, please click here.
With regard to my response to the comments made by President Trump and his failure of presidential leadership, I participated in an interview with WFMZ-TV on August 16th on this topic. Included below is the Q&A of that interview, and you can also read it on my Medium page.
Rep. Costello Conversation with WFMZ regarding CharlottesvilleWFMZ: What’s your positon regarding the rising racial tensions between the alt-right and others specifically what happened in Charlottesville:
Rep. Costello: “I think it’s extremely unfortunate. I’m very worried about our culture right now and hate such as this has a way of spreading if we don’t deal with it in a responsible way. And I think one thing we all need to do is take a deep breath and realize that we’re all good people, and that the best thing we can do is to see good in one another, and not allow people who spread this kind of stuff to have a bigger microphone. If we ignore it, if we move beyond it, if we don’t give them a forum, if we don’t breathe oxygen into this, they will not have an audience. And to me, what concerns me most, is now we are having a very toxic conversation about racial tension, or, does hate just come from conservative groups or is it liberal groups? And to me, I don’t think hate has necessarily an ideology, I think it’s a personal decision to judge people in very harsh and inhumane terms based on their race or ethnicity when we really should be looking at the content of one’s character. And I would just ask everyone to find wisdom in whomever they can find it in for clarities so that we can move forward in a way that deescalates the situation that we’re in right now.”
WFMZ: And what about specifically the comments that the President made naming both parties specifically flip flopping on statements regarding Nazis, KKK, white supremacists:Rep. Costello: Well what happened was someone drove a car into a crowd and killed one person and injured 19 others, and that was a white supremacist. That’s what happened. So he should call it what it is and not get into this broader question of who else out there may be causing noise and contributing to the situation that we’re in right now.
It was a failure of presidential leadership and we’re going to have to move beyond it. And normally in a situation like this you look to your president to be the person of clarity and sort of ask us all as Americans to have a higher calling and look at this with longevity and more patience and more soberness. He did not that do that, and as a consequence of that I think we need to look to others for that clarity and that wisdom so we can come together as a country.
WFMZ: Is that a tough position to be in, you think, as a country and specifically I guess because youre in the same party:Rep. Costello: Well it’s an unfortunate situation. It’s not tough if you’re just willing to say what you think is right or wrong, and you don’t worry about the political considerations, you don’t worry about what political party you’re in. I can tell you most Americans don’t really care what political party people are in. They think that most other human beings are good people. That’s why this is a moment in time that I think we all have to look inward and just realize that. And not determine whether who’s alt-right and who’s alt-left, and what organizations out there, or groups spread this sort of stuff. We just have to reject the entire emotion of hate because it’s pernicious and it undermines what’s great about this country and what it really does also is it takes all of the men and women who fought for freedom, and all the people who go out every single day and do good in their community, and it subordinates all them and all the good that they do, and this nasty stuff comes out and we have the rest of the world looking at us, saying what is going on in the US? And if the president is not the person to be able to step up and say right from wrong, then others are doing it and should do it, and I’m going to say that because that’s what I think, and that’s what I think is the right thing to do. And I want my family and my constituents to be proud that I’m going to say what I think.
And we’re a better country than what happened in Charlottesville. And we’re a better country than these remarks that sort of equalize or marginalize or create an equivalency between various forms of hate. Hate is bad and it’s ugly, and we should be pushing back against it on all cylinders.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me and share your thoughts regarding this important issue. As I stated above, we have an opportunity to come together, unite as Americans, and push back against the hate and intolerance that has infected our communities.
Moving forward, I will continue to engage in conversations that foster unity, cooperation, and respect, and will speak out against hateful actions and divisive rhetoric.
Ryan CostelloMember of Congress