The chant of “Hail Donald Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory” by supporters of an alt-right group here is “divisive” and “contrary to the American values,” the White House has said.
“For more than a year, you have heard me express some profound concern about the extreme rhetoric that has succeeded in infiltrating its way into our political process. That rhetoric is divisive,” the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
“That rhetoric has been contrary to our values as Americans and deeply concerning, not just to people in the administration but to Democrats and Republicans all across the country,” he said.
Earnest was responding to questions on the president of the alt-right National Policy Institute Richard Spencer who addressed more than 200 attendees yesterday as they celebrated President-elect Donald Trump’s victory at the annual conference of the National Policy Institute in Washington.
He was seen apparently giving the Nazi salute and declaring, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”.
“I saw some of the reporting about this meeting that took place while we were out of the country. I think what I would say is that the President’s view is that it’s not just the responsibility of people in elected office to speak out against that kind of divisive, hateful rhetoric.
“It’s the responsibility of everybody who’s blessed with American citizenship. We all have a responsibility to speak out and to stand up for our values, and to stand up for our fellow Americans. And that has been at the core of President Obama’s career in public life,” Earnest said.
Obama has said many times on the campaign trail, the slogan of his campaigns was not “Yes, I can” — it was “Yes, we can”.
“That was a nod to the collective responsibility that all Americans have to advance the interests of our country together; that change doesn’t start from the top down — it comes from the bottom up, and that all Americans have a responsibility to remain engaged in democracy and to be vigilant in defending the kinds of values that have served the country so well for 240 years,” Earnest said.
“The President is optimistic that people of good faith and good will all across the country, even if they’re in different parties, standing up against this kind of extremism and hate. And it is, after all, critical to the success of our country that we remember just how much we have in common,” he said.
“At our core, we share a commitment to a set of values that were endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that were all equal before the law, and that we’re not going to be judged by the colour of our skin or the way we worship God. We’re going to be judged by our character,” he added.
“We’re going to be judged by our patriotism. We’re going to be judged by our contributions to this country. And those are principles that are worth defending. And the responsibility to defend those principles isn’t just vested with people who are positions of authority. It’s vested with every single person who lives in the United States of America,” Earnest said.