Sen. Portman speaks out on Charlottesville, Confederate monuments


GREENVILLE — Following his tour at Greenville’s BASF plant Friday, Portman was asked his thoughts on recent events creating headlines across the nation, in particular, the violence at a neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which an Ohio man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. The aftermath has seen a call by some for the removal of statues and memorials honoring Confederate figures.

“I do think we need to be clear and unequivocal about condemning the bigotry and the hatred that’s represented by the neo-nazis and the white supremacists that were down there,” he said. “My grandfather… fought against that Nazi ideology and we lost hundreds of thousands, and we’ve just got to be sure, with regard to bigotry and with regard to neo-nazis, that we’re clear. That’s why I’ve made a couple statements, because I thought there was some ambiguity out there.”

“On the [Confederate] statues, my concern is, that some people want to federalize all this. And I think it should be done at the local level, or in the case of statues that are on state grounds, state level. And there’s a process in place. Every city’s got a commission, typically, to look at this thing, or the city council decides, and I think it ought to be left up to them.”

“It’s a time in our country’s history where I think we’ve got to focus on how to unite, not how to divide. And some of the comments out there and what happened in Charlottesville have further divided the country. Instead, I think the vast, vast majority of Ohioans agree that we ought to condemn bigotry and ought to condemn any sense of supremacy — certainly the Nazi ideology — and stand firm on that and try to figure out how to work together as a country more, rather than be divided.”

When asked to respond to some who say he hasn’t spoken out against leftist violence as vehemently as violence from the right, Portman said, “Obviously, all violence should be condemned and criticized. The issue down there, as I understood it, was that a group came down to protest and then that attracted other protesters. Everyone has a right to peacefully demonstrate, but no one has the right to use violence.”

Asked if he agreed with President Trump’s most recent statements indicating that both sides of the Charlottesville protest were to blame for the violence, Portman said, “Well, he kind of went back and forth a little bit, and I don’t know exactly the time frame, but I thought he stated clearly at one point what I’m saying about condemning the bigotry and the white supremacists and the neo-nazis. Then he seemed to backtrack a little. I think more moral clarity is helpful.”

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‘Need to be clear and unequivocal’ about bigotry, he says

By Erik Martin

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The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to

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