In what comedian Stephen Colbert called “one of the most upsetting moments” of Tuesday night’s presidential debate — and many people of color would agree — President Donald Trump refused to denounce white supremacy.
The stunning moment happened during a portion of the debate about extremism and race. Moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump, “Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down?”
Instead of doing just that, Trump tap danced, deflected and blamed the left. “I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,” Trump responded. “I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”
“Then do it sir,” Wallace said. “Say it. Do it. Say it,” Joe Biden chided Trump.
“What do you want to call them? Who would you like me to condemn?” Trump shot back.
“Proud Boys,” Biden said, referring to the alt-right organization labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump responded.
It didn’t take long for Trump’s comments to become a top trend on Twitter and a punchline for Colbert. The comic tore into the president immediately after the debate on The CBS Late Show.
“Then we arrived at one of the most telling, one of the most upsetting moments, not only of the night, but of my lifetime, when the president of the United States was asked simply to condemn white supremacy,” Colbert said, “[he] didn’t do it.”
The comedian then began to imitate Trump and said, “I don’t support white supremacists. I just command them, like a dog. That’s why I’ve got this shiny dog whistle. Proud Boys, Proud Boys, stand back, sit. Who’s a Proud Boy? You’re a Proud Boy.”
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) September 30, 2020