Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier, who is African-American, has resigned from a presidential advisory panel after Donald Trump's commented that "many sides" were to blame for the violence Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.
"I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism," Frazier said today in a statement announcing his resignation from the American Manufacturing Council.
Trump responded quickly to the pharmaceutical company CEO:
White supremacist groups held a "Unite the Right" rally Saturday in Charlottesville, which was met with a counterprotest. A car driven by James Fields Jr. plowed into a group of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Fields has been charged with second-degree murder and several other counts.
Saturday afternoon, Trump spoke from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., saying, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides." He was immediately criticized from many sides for not singling out racist groups, but a neo-Nazi blog, the Daily Stormer, praised him, notes The Washington Post. "Trump comments were good," the blog posted. "He didn't attack us."
Several observers contrasted the speed with which he responded to Frazier with his delay in condemning white supremacists. Among the critics was veteran activist Keith Boykin, a black gay man.
And Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York:
Finally, this morning, Trump condemned neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups as "repugnant" -- a statement many saw as too little, too late.
Several other members of the business group have left over previous actions by Trump, The New York Times reports. "His recent decision to leave the Paris climate accord prompted Elon Musk of Tesla to resign, as did the chief executive of Disney, Bob Iger, and Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs," the paper notes.