Over the weekend, the world was gripped by the violent events occurring at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In what appeared to be the largest white nationalist rally in a decade, a van plowed into a group of demonstrators, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring a further 19 people. Leading on from this, two state police troopers were killed when their helicopter crashed in the Charlottesville outskirts.
The protest, which came about to campaign against the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and its ensuing violence were widely condemned in many corners of America, with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe saying the demonstrators needed to “to leave America, because they are not Americans”.
In addition, the former president Barack Obama has tweeted about the events in Charlottesville last weekend, and it’s proven to be one of the most popular tweets ever.
Since vacating the White House in early 2017 for Donald Trump, Barack Obama has stayed largely away from the limelight. He took an extended holiday shortly after ending his term, and although he has announced his intentions to carry on humanitarian work as a civilian, he has kept his counsel on many of the events unfolding in America at the moment.
His last tweet came a month ago on July 19, but he broke that silence with a trio of tweets that reflect the general mood around America at the moment. Obama quoted the former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013 after a prolonged respiratory infection.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion… People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love… For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
In what proved to be a difficult weekend for the United States, Obama’s sentiment resonated with many people on the social network, and Obama’s Twitter post has received more than two million likes in less than 24 hours, becoming the third-most liked tweet in the social network’s history, with many praising the former president for his grace and candor during such a testing time.
Obama’s tweet comes in the wake of a delayed and controversial response by sitting president Donald Trump, who has come under fire for failing to address white nationals directly in his speech about hatred and bigotry “on many sides”, commenting from his resort in Bedminister, New Jersey.
“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides … On many sides. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
President Trump has also sent his condolences to the victims of the attack in Charlottesville as well as to the family of Heather Heyer. 20-year-old James Alex Fields has been arrested in relation to the incident, and will face charges of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, as well as one count of hit and run.