Obama Reacts to Charlottesville Violence: No One Is Born a Hater

'People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love,' the former U.S. president tweeted, quoting the late South African president

Obama's Tweet reacting to violence in Charlottesville. Pictured: Children at a day care facility adjacent to Sasha Obama's school in Bethesda, Maryland
Pete Souza

Former U.S. President Barack Obama took to Twitter on Saturday to address the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Obama quoted late South African President Nelson Mandela in three tweets. "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion," the messages began. "People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." (Update 15/08/2017: Watch the numbers down here on the tweet)

For his part, President Donald Trump, who succeeded Obama in January, posted a series of tweets of his own expressing sorrow over the loss of life in Charlottesville and declaring: "No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST."

In other comments on the incident, Trump said "many sides" were involved, drawing fire from across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the far right. 

The gathering of hundreds of white nationalists in Virginia took a deadly turn on Saturday when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters and killed at least one person in a flare up of violence. The state's governor, Terry McAuliffe, blamed neo-Nazis for sparking the unrest in the college town of Charlottesville, where rival groups fought pitched battles using rocks and pepper spray after far-right protesters converged to demonstrate against a plan to remove a statue to a Confederate war hero.

The car slammed into a crowd of people, killing a 32-year-old woman, police said. Federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation into the death. Two Virginia policeman died in a helicopter crash nearby after assisting efforts to quell the clashes.

With reporting by Reuters.