First published by The Independent, 16th August 2017
A refusal to denounce evil is an evil in and of itself. In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, President Donald Trump has drawn a moral equivalency between the white supremacists and neo-Nazis, one of whom murdered a civil rights activist during the demonstration, and counter-protesters standing against fascism. And Theresa May has failed to condemn him.
The President of the United States laid blame principally at the feet of the “alt-left” and described them as “very, very violent”. This was the side which saw a car plough into protesters, seriously injuring many and killing one innocent woman. Of the other side – with their torches and Nazi salutes and screams of racist, sexist and transphobic abuse – he said: “Not all of those people are neo-Nazis, not all of those people are white supremacists, by any stretch… You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Where indeed?
It’s safe to say that Trump has shown his hand more shamelessly than ever before. Is he afraid of upsetting a key fan base or just incapable of hiding his true colours? Whatever the truth is, we know that white supremacists celebrated after his speech. David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted: “Thankyou President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa”.
Theresa May, in refusing to condemn this joke of a President, is now a limping embarrassment to her country.
When asked about Trump’s comments, May evaded the question. Speaking to reporters today in Portsmouth, she chose instead to say: “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.”
There was no mention of Trump, of his blatant courting of a fascist minority and his description of those protecting the statue of a Confederate soldier as “fine people” who have been “unfairly treated” by a press reporting “fake news”. No, Theresa kept remarkably quiet about her friend Donald, whose hand she so willingly held on a visit to the White House.
What kind of a leader – indeed, what kind of a person – do you have to be to falter when asked to condemn someone who thinks that a group of torch-bearing fascists in Nazi uniforms and Klansman robes are “very fine people”? May is now no better than the weedy sidekick, holding the coat of the playground bully while he grinds another kid’s face into the dirt. Her weakness and moral deficiency is a stain on the office of Prime Minister.
This is no longer about Brexit trade deals or keeping that “special relationship” intact. It’s about simple ethics. We do not shy away from openly condemning those who are apologists for Nazism and fascist ideologies in Britain. We give ourselves over to fighting them and opposing their vile agenda.
If Theresa May continues to stay quiet about Trump, she will be seen as an appeaser and an enabler – our entire country will. Her refusal to stand up to the orange bully in the White House defiles the memory of every single British citizen who lost their lives fighting in the Second World War. Our grandfathers went to war against Nazis, but in 2017 our Prime Minister cosies up to someone who turns a blind eye to their existence in his own country for votes.
In the words of Theresa May’s own Cabinet minister Sajid Javid on Twitter today: “Neo-Nazis: bad. Anti-Nazis: good. I learned that as a child. It was pretty obvious.”
Enough is enough, Theresa May. It’s time to take a stand or get the hell out of office.