WASHINGTON (JTA) — David Shulkin, the secretary of veterans affairs, became the first Jewish member of the Trump administration after President Donald Trump’s daughter to speak out about the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shulkin, speaking Wednesday at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, told reporters that he was “giving my personal opinions as an American and as a Jewish American,” according to The New York Times. “And for me in particular, I think in learning history, that we know that staying silent on these issues is simply not acceptable.”
The Washington Post quoted Shulkin as saying it is “a dishonor to our country’s veterans for the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged, and that we all have to speak up about this as Americans.”
Shulkin did not condemn the president, who on Tuesday said there were “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville, where white supremacists and counterprotesters clashed on Saturday. An alleged white supremacist plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring at least 19.
The Post quoted Shulkin as saying that Trump had done a “good job” of denouncing bigotry in the wake of the Charlottesville events.