UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has condemned the views espoused by far-right groups across the world. May was responding to the events that unfolded in Charlottesville in USA.
Through a veiled statement aimed at the US President, Donald Trump, she has also noted that there is no comparison between the far-right and those who oppose them.
A number of white supremacist groups participated in a rally called Unite the Right in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. Many of those who participated in this rally wore Nazi symbols and chanted anti-semitic slogans. Some were captured on video doing the Nazi salute during processions.
Hundreds of Americans, opposed to this display, showed up to protest the rally on August 13th. Fights broke out between the two groups before the law enforcement intervened and cancelled the event. One alt-right participant called Alex Fields, plowed into the protestors with his car. This resulted in the death of one woman and multiple others being injured.
Lawmakers from the Republican and the Democratic party have condemned white supremacy in the wake of the incident. US President Donald Trump in his first prepared remarks since the attack said that “many sides” were to blame for the violence. Seemingly he bowed down to pressure and released another statement denouncing the actions of Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan. However, on August 15th, he once again noted that those protesting the rally were also to blame for the violence. He then went onto to note that there were “fine people” on both sides. These remarks have since been condemned by many prominent personalities.
Theresa May was asked about the President’s remarks while on an official visit to Britain's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. She did not mention Trump’s name or directly address his statements. However, she did state that those in “positions of responsibility” should condemn the far-right. She noted, “I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them. As I made clear at the weekend following the horrendous scenes that we saw in Charlottesville, I absolutely abhor the racism, the hatred and the violence that we have seen portrayed by these groups. The United Kingdom has taken action to ban far-right groups here.”
May joins German Chancellor in forcefully condemning the far-right. Angela Merkel’s office released a statement noting, “Such images and chants are disgusting wherever they may be and they are diametrically opposed to the political goals of the chancellor and the entire German government.” The statement also noted that Merkel stood with "those who peacefully oppose such aggressive, far-right views".
Our assessment is that leaders in Europe like Theresa May have boldly begun countering the alt-right rhetoric. In the recent years, there seemed to a rise in the alt-right movement. However, at least for now, Europe is pushing back. It was 70 years ago that Europe had to pay dearly for accepting far-right rulers who were voted to power on populism and the promise of economic prosperity. Perhaps there are lessons for countries like India, Venezuela and Turkey who at this point in history are trying to embrace alt-right movements.