Matt Damon says President Donald Trump’s response to the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Virginia last month was “absolutely abhorrent.”
Speaking about the violence, which left one counter-protester dead, Damon told The Hollywood Reporter he was shocked to realize the “extent of the existing racism” in America and noted, “it’s so much worse than I naively thought.”
“I just feel naïve at this point. It was shocking to see those kids — they looked 20 and 30 years old — in button-down shirts, with Tiki torches, walking down the street,” Damon added. “I thought, ‘Those people are a lot younger than me. Who raised them?’ Again, I naively thought that, behind our generation, [another one] was coming with more awareness and inclusiveness, and that everything was getting better with each generation. And to see these young, aggrieved, white boys walking with their torches and screaming ‘Jews will not replace us!’ It was just shocking. Then the night that the President [made his] ‘many sides’ comment was absolutely abhorrent.”
On Aug. 12, as the uprising in Charlottesville unfolded, Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence” on what he claimed was “many sides.” He was criticized for the remarks, which equated white supremacists and neo Nazis with counter-protesters, and later denounced hate groups by name in a statement on Aug. 14. But on Aug. 15, Trump again blamed “both sides.”
“I watched this very closely, much more closely than you people watched it, and you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said on Aug. 15. “Nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say it right now. You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.” He later added, “I do think there’s blame on both sides. You look at both sides, I think there’s blame on both sides. I have no doubt about it and you have no doubt about it either.”
Damon has criticized Trump before, including last year before the election. “It makes me nervous,” Damon said of the possibility that Trump would win the presidency (which he did via the Electoral College). “It’s a binary choice…. There’s no way we can let this guy be the [president]. To let that dude have the nuclear football, are you kidding me? That’s dangerous. He’s impulsive and rash, and doesn’t seem to think deeply about too many things.”
After Trump won, Damon said he wished Trump “well” and hoped he was a successful president for the good of the country. “Obviously, it’s no secret that I didn’t vote for him. And yeah, I think there is a sense of we are heading into new territory here,” Damon added earlier this year. “He is obviously not a career politician, he has been very occupied with his own business interest, which are relatively narrow given the scope of what a president actually has to deal with, so I imagine he is really working hard right now to master so many sectors. He’s just got a lot of work cut out for him.”
Suburbicon opens later this year.