Rev. Calvin Butts: "We cannot let a man like [Trump] take us back"

Dr. Calvin Butts, president of the State University of New York at Old Westbury and pastor of New York's Abyssinian Baptist Church, spoke with CBS News' Anthony Mason about his reaction to President Trump's comments blaming "both sides" for weekend violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.


ANTHONY MASON: The president said yesterday that racism is evil. Have his remarks today effectively undercut that?

DR. CALVIN BUTTS: I think so. Everyone believes that he's trying to avoid identifying the hatred and the level of vitriol in the country today. And his statements today in terms of trying to spread the blame, so to speak, did not really ensure Americans, most of them -- and I would encourage the president to pay attention to the polls -- that we should not be living in fear. Everyone is afraid today.

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Dr. Calvin Butts

CBS News

MASON: Is it possible to keep the country united with this kind of rhetoric?

BUTTS: No, and that's the problem. Coming from the bully pulpit of the White House, you have to speak to the sensibilities of this nation. We're not going to fight the Civil War again, and we're not going to stand for the kind of hatred that we see tearing this country apart. And the president needs to tone it down. He needs to demonstrate that he can lead this nation. It's a difficult job, but we are a good people, and we've come a long way, and we cannot let a man like him take us back.

MASON: What is "a man like him?" What do you mean?

BUTTS: Someone who is a bully. Someone who does not listen to the deep reservoir of intelligence of the men and women of the United States government.

MASON: If you could say something directly to the president today, or have him say something, what would that be?

BUTTS: It would be that there is domestic terrorism in the United States of America, and the president of the United States does not tolerate it, and say it from his heart. I think he needs to sit back and take a look at, what is America, truly, today? And it is a diverse nation that's, one, E Pluribus Unum. I wonder if he knows what that means. Out of many, one. And he's segregating the population with this rhetoric.