U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder said Wednesday he was angry that all leaders in the United States aren’t outraged by the turmoil in Virginia over the weekend, and called on them to “stand up forcefully” against Nazis, White supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan.
Other prominent Kansas Republicans also weighed in Wednesday.
Yoder issued a statement Tuesday, after President Donald Trump’s comments that both sides involved in recent trouble in Charlottesville shared blame. He then responded to reporters’ questions Wednesday during an appearance in Overland Park.
The Johnson County Republican spoke shortly before a Kansas Democratic leader released a statement criticizing Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach for their silence in the wake of Trump’s comments and Saturday’s violence. Brownback, Kobach and Colyer all later released statements.
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“White supremacy, Nazism, KKK, that has no place in America. We will not allow these racists and bigots to turn back the clock,” Yoder said Wednesday when asked about the president’s remarks. “Each leader needs to stand up forcefully and clearly and directly, that it will not be tolerated and not be accepted.”
During a press conference Tuesday, Trump said “both sides” shared blame for the disturbances in Virginia that saw white supremacists protest the expected removal of a Confederate statue as they encountered counterprotesters.
That didn’t seem to sit well with Yoder.
“There are not two sides to this issue,” Yoder said. “This is about right and wrong, and we need to stand together united in this country that this bigotry and this racism and this hatred will no longer be accepted, and we will speak out against it very strongly.”
Brownback said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that “racism, hatred, and violence should have no place in American life.” The Kansas Republican, who was recently picked by Trump to become ambassador at-large for international religious freedom, did not criticize the president by name.
“Our state was born of the idea that all people are created equal, and that all people should be treated with respect and dignity,” Brownback said in the statement. “I, along with the people of Kansas, condemn any sentiment or demonstration against this fundamental truth.”
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, criticized Brownback, Colyer and Kobach earlier in the day for their initial silence.
“It is shocking that leaders of the Republican Party in our state have not denounced the vile behavior of white nationalists,” Hensley said in a statement.
Kobach has been one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in Kansas and is closely tied to the GOP leader. Kobach has said that he’s advised Trump and also serves as the vice chairman of the president’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
“It goes without saying that white supremacist views and racism are reprehensible,” Kobach said in a statement. “ I did not comment on the horrific attack in Charlottesville because I am running for governor of Kansas, not governor of Virginia.”
Colyer said in a statement he had seen firsthand the “evil extremes of racial and ethnic cleansing.”
“We must stamp out these harmful ideologies and evil doers before they can take root here at home,” Colyer said in the statement. “Kansas has been and will continue to be a beacon of light and hope for those who fight for equality and justice for all.”
Yoder spoke to reporters after an appearance Wednesday morning at an Overland Park child care center. Yoder was there championing a bill aiming to help families deal with the cost of child care.
“I think when we don’t speak clearly about this, we give oxygen and encouragement to these groups,” Yoder said about the hate groups in Virginia. “And so that’s why we need to denounce them clearly and directly. I think the president has made a mistake and missed an opportunity to unite this country. And every time he equivocates on the matter, I think he’s encouraging these groups to believe that they’re legitimate.”