The first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was an embarrassing waste of time, and no moment caused as much of an extreme reaction from the American public as when Trump failed to publicly condemn white supremacists. Moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if would speak out against white supremacist groups that have committed acts of violence across America. Trump tried to side-step the question first by saying, “I would say, almost everything I see is from the left-wing,” and then by reacting, “I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”
When pressed again by Wallace to condemn white supremacists, Trump responded, “What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name? Proud Boys, stand back, standby.” The Proud Boys are a mens-only neo-fascist organization with ties to numerous violent acts in Portland. Trump’s comments emboldened members of the white supremacist group, who took to social media in the hours after the debate (via The Wrap) to thank Trump for not condemning them.
“For those who hadn’t been listening for the past four years, Trump just told you that he ain’t leaving and that he is a white supremacist,” Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter in reaction to Trump. “If that doesn’t get every American who is not white into overdrive to toss his ass – we may actually deserve what happens next.”
DuVernay’s condemnation of Trump was shared by dozens of Holllywood figures, from comedians Billy Eichner and Kumail Nanjiani to Mark Ruffalo, Robin Thede, Patton Oswalt, and more. Eicher wrote, “The fact that Trump said Proud Boys should ‘stand by’ is one of the most disgusting, dangerous things that could have possibly been said. What a vile, racist bitch. Vote this motherfucker out.”
“I want to live in a country where my President is not afraid to call white supremacists and Nazis racists thugs and terrorists and then do everything he can to stop them,” added Ruffalo.
“Here’s the big takeaway from the debate,” Nanjiani added. “Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists, and not only did he refuse to do so, he told them to stand back and stand by. You know, as if he is their leader. That’s the takeaway.”
Click here to read IndieWire’s full analysis of the first debate. A handful of reactions to Trump are embedded below.
For those who hadn’t been listening for the past 4 years, Trump just told you that he ain’t leaving and that he is a white supremacist. If that doesn’t get every American who is not white into overdrive to toss his ass – we may actually deserve what happens next.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 30, 2020
The fact that Trump said Proud Boys should “stand by” is one of the most disgusting, dangerous things that could have possibly been said. What a vile, racist bitch. Vote this motherfucker out.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) September 30, 2020
Here’s the big takeaway from the debate:
Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists, and not only did he refuse to do so, he told them to “stand back and stand by.”
You know, as if he is their leader.
That’s the takeaway.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) September 30, 2020
“Proud Boys.Stand back and stand by?” That’s how Emmitt Till happens. That’s how 4 Little Girls at 16th Street Baptist Church happens. That’s how Kyle Rittenhouse happens. That’s how Dylan Roof happens…”
— Cheo Hodari Coker (@cheo_coker) September 30, 2020
HE ENDORSED IT.
— Robin Thede (@robinthede) September 30, 2020
He couldn’t denounce white supremacy. I can turn this off now.
— Lena Waithe (@LenaWaithe) September 30, 2020
His message to white supremacists was “STAND BY”. This is terrifying.
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) September 30, 2020
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) September 30, 2020
Tonight, we either choose a man who has principle or one who can’t bring himself to call white supremicists, “white supremacists.” THATS it. That’s the choice.
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) September 30, 2020
Tonight Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacists.
That is so deeply disturbing and horrifying, and utterly disqualifying for the presidency of our great nation.#Debates2020 #VoteOutHate #BidenHarrisToSaveAmerica
— Ed Helms (@edhelms) September 30, 2020