Celebs react to Donald Trump’s white supremacists response

During the Sept. 29, 2020 presidential debate, both President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden made some comments that drew ire from one another, as well as viewers at home. Perhaps the most concerning bit of the night, in fact, came when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he’d condemn white supremacy. “You’ve criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left-wing extremist groups,” Wallace said.” But are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence at a number of the cities as we saw in Kenosha, and as we’ve seen in Portland?” 

Trump answered that he believed the violence in those cities had been from the left wing rather than the right, but he still didn’t answer Wallace’s question. Biden urged Trump to condemn white supremacists, and Trump replied by asking what they wanted him to call them. His response was, “Proud boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about [anti-fascist group] Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

Rather than asking Proud Boys — a violent far-right group, according to NBC News — to stand down, he asked them to stand by, which sends a completely different message. Social media exploded with people’s concern over Trump’s unwillingness to condemn white supremacists, including many celebrities. 

Kumail Nanjiani said Trump sounds like the Proud Boys 'leader'

While it was more than just celebrities who showed concern over President Donald Trump’s comments on white supremacy, their tweets were perhaps some of the loudest and most shared, due to their large platforms. Kumail Nanjiani not only tweeted his disbelief over the comment when it happened, but shared further thoughts after the debate ended. “Here’s the big takeaway from the debate: Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists, and not only did he refuse to do so, he told them to ‘stand back and stand by.’ You know, as if he is their leader,” Nanjiani tweeted. “That’s the takeaway.”

Kathy Griffin did more than just share her concern over the comment. She shared a tweet with more information on these Proud Boys alongside her comment. Her tweet — which read, “Meet a proud boy who trump just ordered to ‘stand back and stand by'” — was a quote tweet of someone else asking for help tracking down a Proud Boy in Portland who assaulted a Black person just two days prior. Both Nanjiani and Griffin used their expansive platforms to emphasize the severity of Trump’s remarks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says this is 'fascism at our door'

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is known for always speaking her mind, especially when it comes to politics and equality, absolutely had something to say about President Donald Trump’s scary callout to far-right group the Proud Boys at the September 2020 debate. With a video of the comments in question, she tweeted, “Donald Trump is a white supremacist. People have been warning about this for a long time. They were ridiculed, called hyperbolic & radical – not bc they were wrong, but bc others couldn’t accept that our country elected a supremacist as President. This is fascism at our door.” 

Host of The Well Podcast, Anson Mount, shared in Ocasio-Cortez’s views and called the white supremacy comment the “truest, most revealing moment of this ‘debate.'” And, while the overall tone of comments on this topic from Twitter as a whole conveyed anger and disbelief, some could barely find words to acknowledge what they watched on their TVs. Jason Alexander simply tweeted, “Trump to white supreacists: ‘Stand back and stand by’ ???????????????????” Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry had a similar response: “No further questions your honor!”

Rob Delaney kept it light by joking about voting for Joe Biden

Actor Rob Delaney relied on his humous nature for his reaction to the debate, and while the upcoming election is no laughing matter, sometimes you have to find light where you can in such heavy topics. Despite making a joke about President Donald Trump’s comments on white supremacy, Delaney’s message was still there: “OK I sat down with my wife & we went over some debate highlights. We have decided to vote for the guy who DIDN’T issue a televised call to armed white supremacist groups to engage in voter suppression.” 

And that right there is what all other concerned Americans can do, as well — exercise their right to vote either by mail or in person on Nov. 3, 2020. Many celebrities also took debate night as an opportunity to encourage their followers to vote, some even partnering with organizations to really spread the message, including Zach Braff and Donald Faison, who are working with HeadCount to get people to the polls. During the debate, Braff shared the simple message, “Mad? Do something!” And, once the election rolls around, we’ll finally see if enough people did do something.

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