Britain, Germany Resent Trump’s ‘Blame on Both Sides’ Stance on Charlottesville Violence

Britain, Germany Resent Trump’s ‘Blame on Both Sides’ Stance on Charlottesville Violence

Alt-right members preparing to enter Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, holding Nazi, Confederate, and Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, on August 12, 2017. Photo: Wikipedia

Some of America’s closest allies have condemned US President Donald Trump for his comments there was “blame on both sides” for the violence during Saturday’s far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On Tuesday, Trump made it clear he deemed the “alt-left” just as guilty as the “alt-right”, i.e. far-right, for this weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where dozens of people were injured and one was killed in a car ramming attack.

Trump’s statement came a day after he explicitly condemned the white supremacists, the KKK, and Neo-Nazis for the bloodshed, after initially failing to do so.

Hundreds of white nationalists gathered for Saturday’s “Unite the Right” at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, to protest against the removal of a statue of General Robert Lee who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the American Civil War.

The far-right demonstrators included neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members, and clashed violently with counter-protesters.

Amid the clashes, 22-year-old James Fields from Ohio plowed with a car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others.

Fields was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder and the FBI opened a civil rights investigation.

Another 15 people were injured in the clashes between the two rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, and two Virginia state troopers were killed when their helicopter crashed en route to the scene.

Trump’s remarks in which he equated the blame of the far-right demonstrators with “alt-left” counter-protesters in Charlottesville have invited condemnation by key US allies such as Britain and Germany, Reuters reported.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been criticized for cultivating close ties to Trump, spoke out after the president repeated his view that the white nationalists and counter-protesters were both to blame.

“There’s no equivalence, I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them and I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them,” May said.

The leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats said May should rescind her invitation to Trump to pay a state visit to Britain.

“After Donald Trump’s whitewash of murder and hatred by white supremacists why is he still on list of invited official guests to UK?” Vince Cable tweeted.

Politicians in Germany, which has strong regulations against hate speech and Nazi symbols, expressed shock at the images of people in Charlottesville, Virginia, carrying swastikas and chanting anti-Semitic slurs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), condemned the “racist, far-right violence”.

On Monday, Merkel had told public broadcaster Phoenix that clear action was needed to combat far-right extremism. She noted that Germany had “quite a lot to do at home” to address a recent rise in anti-Semitism.

Her challenger in next month’s election, Martin Schulz, of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which rules in coalition with Merkel’s CDU, called Trump’s comments the “confused utterances” of a dangerous man.

“We should not tolerate the monstrosities coming out of the President’s mouth,” Schulz told the RND newspaper group in an interview.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, also of the SPD, said Trump’s failure to condemn neo-Nazis was a “huge mistake.”

“Drawing an equivalence between the two sides instead of clearly distancing himself from the Nazi potential which was exhibited there was, of course, a huge mistake,” he told the German DPA news agency on Wednesday.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, also of the SPD, accused Trump of relativizing anti-Semitism and racism.

“It is intolerable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,” Maas said in Berlin on Wednesday.

“It’s also wrong. And it also shows how entangled some of Trump’s supporters are with the radical right-wing scene in the US. No one should downplay anti-Semitism and racism from neo-Nazis. There’s nothing to relativize when it comes to radical right-wing propaganda and violence,” he added.

It is noted that tven far-right parties that have welcomed Trump’s nationalist message, were critical of his stance.

“These were white supremacists and racists. They need to be condemned in very clear terms,” said Florian Philippot, vice president of France’s National Front and the manager of Marine Le Pen’s campaign for the French Presidency.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed his shock on Wednesday at the anti-Semitism on display in the US, but said American leaders would succeed in dealing with “this difficult challenge.”

Rivlin wrote to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to convey his “support and solidarity for the American Jewish community.”

“The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag – perhaps the most vicious symbol of anti-Semitism – paraded in the streets of the world’s greatest democracy, and Israel’s most cherished and greatest ally, is almost beyond belief,” he said.

“We have seen manifestations of anti-Semitism again and again arise across the world; in Europe and the Middle East.

“I know that the great nation of the United States of America and its leaders will know how to face this difficult challenge, and prove to the world the robustness and strength of democracy and freedom.”

His comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned “neo-Nazism and racism” after Trump had called the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis “repugnant.”


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