Barack Obama’s response to the deadly violence Charlottesville has made history.
In the wake of the attack by a suspected neo-Nazi that left one woman dead over the weekend, the former president turned to Twitter to offer some poignant words in what appeared to be an effort to promote healing. Obama posted a picture smiling at a diverse group of young children and added a quote about racism from Nelson Mandela.
“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,” Obama wrote.
That tweet immediately went viral, the Washington Post noted, and on Tuesday set the all-time record for the most likes with 2.723 million. That previous record had been held by singer Ariana Grande in response to the deadly terrorist attack after her concert in Manchester, England.
Part of the popularity of Obama’s tweet was the contrast to the response from President Donald Trump, who drew widespread criticism for his initial refusal to denounce white supremacists at Saturday’s rally. The “Unite the Right” event was in protest of the planned removal of a Confederate statue from a park in Charlottesville, and drew a variety of racist groups including the KKK and neo-Nazis.
At the rally, a suspected neo-Nazi is accused of driving his car through a group of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. In remarks on Saturday, Trump instead said that there was blame “on all sides.” After two days of criticism, Trump made another statement on Monday that directly denounced the KKK, neo-Nazis, and other racist groups, but he appeared to double down on his initial stance in a press conference on Tuesday.
Though Donald Trump has made Twitter a platform to share his thoughts and even announce major legislative changes — including using the platform to announce a ban on transgender individuals from joining the U.S. military — Obama has a larger following. Trump’s Twitter page has a total of 35.9 million followers, while Obama has 93.3 million.
As the Washington Post noted, Obama has been vocal in opposing Donald Trump during the first seven months of his presidency, including a statement denouncing Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Obama also spoke out in defense of Obamacare when Trump was leading an effort to have it repealed and replaced.
Barack Obama’s tweet about the violence in Charlottesville continues to go viral, the Los Angeles Times noted. After breaking the record on Tuesday, the tweet continued to receive hundreds of thousands of new likes, and by early Wednesday was close to surpassing three million.
[Featured Image by Steffi Loos/Getty Images]