Trump, as you'll unfortunately recall, made his priorities as clear as possible last year when stating "very fine people" existed "on both sides" of the fatal August 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville. While presenting his new film BlacKkKlansman at the Cannes Film Festival Monday night, director Spike Lee reminded the audience of Trump's failure to condemn neo-Nazis and the resulting "ugly blemish" on the nation.
"And we have a guy in the White House—I'm not gonna say his fucking name—who defined that moment not just for Americans but the world, and that motherfucker was given the chance to say we are about love, not hate," Lee said, as transcribed in full by Vulture. "And that motherfucker did not denounce the motherfucking Klan, the alt-right, and those Nazi motherfuckers. It was a defining moment, and he could have said to the world, not just the United States, that we were better than that."
Lee added that the "so-called American cradle of democracy" is bullshit. "The United States of America was built on the genocide of native people and slavery," he said. "That is the fabric of the United States of America. As my Brooklyn brother Jay-Z would say, facts. That scene had to go in."
The scene in question, a documentary montage of the Charlottesville rally and counterprotest, includes footage of the death of activist Heather Heyer. Initially, Lee said, he wasn't going to put "that murder scene' in the film. When Heyer's mother Susan Bro gave him permission, however, he leaned into it. "Once I got permission, I said, 'Fuck everybody else, that motherfucking scene is staying in the motherfucking movie,'" he said. "Cuz that was a murder."
Read Lee's full comments here. BlacKkKlansman, which received a six-minute standing ovation at Monday night's Cannes screening, opens Aug. 10.