Analysis: World leaders accuse Trump of ‘glossing over’ racist violence

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s Tuesday news conference — in which he once again blamed ‘‘both sides’’ in Charlottesville, effectively undoing his earlier conciliatory remarks — earned him another wave of backlash from world leaders Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t mention Trump by name but said in a statement Wednesday there was ‘‘no equivalence’’ between the two sides.

Chaos erupted in Charlottesville over the weekend after white supremacist groups that had gathered for a ‘‘Unite the Right’’ rally clashed with counterprotesters. After the planned rally was canceled, a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others. Police arrested 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio, who was identified by a former teacher as being a longtime Nazi sympathizer.


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

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Trump’s remarks renewed calls by some British leaders and activists for his state visit to the country to be canceled, according to the Guardian.

Similarly, the European Commission mentioned neither Trump nor Charlottesville but, in a tweet Wednesday morning, reiterated the European Union’s founding principles: liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamentals, and the rule of law.

‘‘We reject and condemn all forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia,’’ the commission stated. ‘‘They are incompatible with the values and principles upon which the EU is founded.’’

Others were more explicit in their criticism of Trump. Germany Justice Minister Heiko Maas blasted Trump’s Tuesday news conference as one that sugarcoated the racist violence from the weekend.


‘‘It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,’’ Maas said in a statement, according to Reuters. ‘‘No one should trivialize anti-Semitism and racism by neo-Nazis.’’

Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (of which Maas is also a member), didn’t mince words.

‘‘Nazis must be confronted decisively,’’ Schulz said. ‘‘What Trump is doing is highly incendiary. Those who downplay violence and hate betray the values of the West!’’

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei implied in a tweet that the Charlottesville violence was evidence the United States needed to get its own house in order before intervening in other countries’ affairs.

Trump’s initial public remarks on the violence in Charlottesville were criticized by many, including members of his own political party, for being insufficient and vague. On Monday, the president specifically denounced ‘‘the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups’’ in unscheduled remarks at the White House, though some criticized Trump’s comments as too little, too late.


However, on Tuesday, Trump seemed to revert to his original sentiments in a terse exchange with reporters at what was supposed to be a news conference about infrastructure.