‘1950s racism straight from the White House’: Trump’s tweets revolt politicians around the world

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May ( Ben Stansall/ AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May ( Ben Stansall/ AFP/Getty Images) BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

LONDON — Lawmakers and commentators abroad expressed shock and disgust Monday after President Trump targeted Democratic minority congresswomen in tweets over the weekend and told them to ‘‘go back’’ to their countries.

On US soil, the tweets prompted outrage, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat from California, branding Trump’s string of remarks as ‘‘xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation,’’ and Democrats defending those believed to be at the center of Trump’s fury: Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

While Republicans largely avoided commenting on the president’s statements, lawmakers around the world did not.


British politician David Lammy branded Trump’s comments ‘‘1950s racism straight from the White House’’ and called for Boris Johnson, who is in the running to replace Theresa May as prime minister, to condemn the remarks.

On Monday, May, who has just days left in office, condemned the tweets.

‘‘The prime minister’s view is that the language used to refer to these women was completely unacceptable,’’ a Downing Street spokesman said.

May’s sharp rebuke of the president has put pressure on other lawmakers, especially Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, who is also vying for her job, to condemn the tweets. Both men have been silent so far.

‘‘The President of the United States telling elected politicians — or any other Americans for that matter — to ‘go back’ to other countries is not OK, and diplomatic politeness should not stop us saying so, loudly and clearly,’’ tweeted First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.

Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, who was born and raised in the city and has frequently clashed with Trump, told a British radio station that this is the type of language he has heard for much of his life — though never from such a source.


‘‘I’ve heard it from racists and fascists. Never from a mainstream politician,’’ he said. ‘‘Here you have the president of the U.S.A. using that same sort of language.’’

The outrage came from outside Britain as well.

‘‘Trump’s racism is sickening. Any European politician who fails to condemn this has questions to answer & should be ashamed of themselves,’’ wrote Belgian politician Guy Verhofstadt.

In Germany, commentators condemned Trump’s remarks on Monday. To rely on ‘‘ugly sentiments,’’ wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily newspaper, has ‘‘long become part of his strategy.’’ Trump’s tweets, the paper wrote, were so ‘‘clearly racist, that a debate over their content is a waste of time.’’

German news outlet Der Spiegel echoed those comments. In a commentary on its website, the publication said Trump is now relying on an ‘‘even more overt and blunt racism’’ than ahead of the 2016 US elections.

In the West Bank, where Tlaib has relatives and is considered a hometown hero despite having never lived there, many saw Trump’s tweets as a confirmation of what they view as a pro-Israel bias — and an insult to values America purports to uphold.

Bassam Tlaib, one of the congresswoman’s uncles in the West Bank, told the Associated Press Trump’s tweets were ‘‘a racist statement meant to target Rashida because she has Palestinian roots.’’

The Palestinian Authority, which has cut off ties with the White House over a succession of Trump policies that have favored Israel, called Trump’s statement an ‘‘insult’’ to the concept of American rule of law, according to the AP.


‘‘It’s an insult to the Statue of Liberty, America’s most famous symbol, an insult to the American values where migrants from all over the world are united as one nation under one law,’’ said Ibrahim Milhim, a spokesman for the authority.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the tweets when asked whether he considered them racist during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday.

‘‘That is not how we do things in Canada,’’ he said at a military base in Petawawa, Ontario. ‘‘A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and the diversity of our country is actually one of our greatest strengths and a source of tremendous resilience and pride for Canadians. We will continue to defend that.’’