Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) unequivocally denounced white supremacy and the groups that perpetrate hatred and racism in a radio interview on Tuesday, drawing a strong distinction between himself and President Donald Trump.
Trump has had a difficult time denouncing white supremacist groups in recent days. While he finally made a denunciation on Monday, his apparent struggle to simply denounce the hate groups has been obvious. It was put under a microscope on Tuesday when Trump equally blamed the “alt-left” for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.
Cruz, however, has made it clear that he neither wants anything to do with white supremacist groups nor does he want to shift the blame for last weekend’s violence on others.
The Texas Republican was asked how he felt about a decision by Texas A&M University to cancel an event where prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer was to speak. Cruz made himself very clear.
"I will say I’m glad that Spencer and the white supremacists are not coming to A&M. … I think Texas doesn’t need to listen to their garbage,” Cruz told radio host Mark Davis.
The balancing act
While Cruz was clear that white supremacy is “garbage” and something this country doesn’t need, Cruz explained the solution to such “hatred and evil” isn’t censorship.
He said: "When people do choose to use their free speech rights to advocate hatred and evil, the rest of us are obliged to counter it. Now I don’t think you counter it with censorship. I agree with John Stuart Mill, who talked about the marketplace of ideas, and the best cure for bad speech, for bad ideas, is more speech and better ideas. And so I think that’s the approach we want to have."
Trump leadership gap
Cruz’s comments, along with denunciations from the majority of Republicans, show that the GOP wants nothing to do with white supremacists, despite the media’s constant connection of them with the right-wing.
The comments also magnified Trump’s inability to lead. While so many Americans feel unsafe and disenfranchised — especially people of color — Trump could have used the moment to reach across the aisle to help heal our country's racial divisions by providing comfort and guiding reconciliation.
Instead, he seemingly placed equal blame on millions of people who have time and time again been hurt by racism and bigotry.