Late night hosts Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers took a break from joke telling to react to the violent actions of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend, in response to the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Heather Heyer, 32, died after a man ran his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, authorities say.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
“Even though The Tonight Show isn’t a political show, it’s my responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being,” Jimmy Fallon told his audience. “What happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., was just disgusting. I was watching the news like everyone else, and you’re seeing Nazi flags and torches and white supremacists, and I was sick to my stomach.”
Fallon also had critical words for President Trump.
“The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful. And I think he finally spoke out because people everywhere stood up and said something,” said Fallon. “It’s important for everyone — especially white people — in this country to speak out against this. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.
“And remember: there are people who have given their lives to make sure this kind of hate doesn’t spread,” he added. “They’ve fought and died on the right side of history. One brave woman in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, died standing up for what’s right at the age of 32. I can’t look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when this kind of thing is happening. We all need to stand against what is wrong, acknowledge that racism exists, and stand up for what is right, and civil, and kind. And to show the next generation that we haven’t forgotten how hard people have fought for human rights. We cannot do this. We can’t go backward. We can’t go backward.”
Late Night with Seth Meyers
Fallon wasn’t alone in castigating the president. Seth Meyers also had pointed words for No. 45.
“It was a horrifying incident that left most of the country stunned and terrified, but on Saturday you didn’t hear (Heyer’s) name, or the terrorist’s name, or even the word ‘terrorist’ from our president,” the Late Night host said before introducing a clip of Trump condemning the “display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
“On many sides,” Meyers reiterated looking stunned. “If that choice of words made you feel sick to your stomach, the good news is you’re a normal and decent person. The jury is still out on the president as he initially refused to condemn the white supremacist movement in this country.”
Meyers said due to Trump’s latency in denouncing white supremacism, “many of those people see him as leading that movement.”
“The leader of our country is called the president because he’s supposed to preside over our society,” Meyers reasoned. “His job is to lead, to cajole, to scold, to correct our path, to lift up what is good about us and to absolutely and unequivocally and immediately condemn what is evil in us. And if he does not do that, if he does not preside over our society, then he is not a president.”