Rise of the far right in the US?

Two days after racist riots erupted in Charlottesville, under growing pressure from the public, US President Donald Trump has finally condemned the racism of the Ku Klux Klan and the so-called white supremacist movement, calling it 'repugnant'. European commentators discuss the ties between the president and far-right voters and media bias on the issue.

Open/close all quotes
The Times (GB) /

Silence on far left violence

Others have also been attacked but the media have shown little interest in such incidents, the Times complains:

“Since Trump's ascendancy, there have been repeated outbreaks of violence, mostly perpetrated by Antifa against ordinary Republicans and other conservatives, either at pro-Trump rallies or on other public platforms. These people have been either stopped from speaking or physically attacked by Antifa and other left-wing demonstrators. Such attacks on mainstream conservatives have been ignored, downplayed or even endorsed by Democrats and their media acolytes.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Bannon is the bridge to the far right

Trump's tepid reaction to the events in Charlottesville comes courtesy of his chief strategist Steve Bannon, suspects Večernji list:

“In the summer of 2014, as head of the far-right website Breitbart News, Bannon spoke about the 'crisis of the Judao-Christian West' where, he said, we were at the 'start of a very brutal and bloody war', which would wipe out 2,500 years of western civilisation. ... Steve Bannon is the connection between Trump and nationalist, racist US voters and those who believe in white supremacy. This is why only as a result of enormous public pressure Trump so belatedly blamed local American racism for the act of terrorism in Charlottesville.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

A cultural war on America's streets

The polarisation of US society is no longer restricted to social media, De Volkskrant observes:

“President Trump refused to call the brutal attack terrorism. This proves that this was not an excess but a symptom of an America that is split to the core. With Trump's election, this polarisation became the official leitmotif of US politics. … The official 'return' of white men bearing torches in the American south is a sign that the polarisation on social media is increasingly finding its way onto the streets. This trend is all the more dangerous because America now has a president who was swept into office by a wave of polarisation and has no interest in trying to turn it back.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Trump not to blame for everything

For Tagesspiegel Trump is not the cause of growing racism in the US:

“The white supremacists - groups that assert the superiority of the white race - have been on the rise in the US for more than a decade. … The election of Barack Obama saw a surge in the number of right-wing groups. Experts suspect that the first black president was interpreted by the scene as an indication that their predictions about the decline of the white race were accurate. But poverty and poor education standards are also contributing to their rising numbers. … Trump himself doesn't seem to be a real racist. He is an ideological nihilist. He probably believes in nothing but himself.”

El País (ES) /

The aberration of the century

No one has sullied the office of US president more than Trump, El País rails:

“Of all the damage Donald Trump is inflicting on the US presidency, the worst is the moral damage - even taking into account the thuggery that led to Richard Nixon's resignation; Ronald Reagan's indolence in the face of the Aids epidemic or Bill Clinton's sexual deviations. No event of the past century can compare to the president of the United States refusing to call racist terrorism by its proper name after a neo-Nazi mob that was armed to the teeth staged a rally 200 kilometres outside the capital, causing three deaths.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Trump needs white fanatics

Strategic considerations could be behind the half-hearted condemnation of far-right violence, Handelsblatt suspects:

“All it takes is a quick glance at the Internet forums of right-wing weapons fanatics to realise that a storm is brewing in the United States. Trump's voter base has shrunk to a hard core - and that hard core will stop at nothing. If the investigations against Trump lead to his impeachment, the storm would break. That's why Trump isn't condemning the white fanatics. He needs them. As a deterrent.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Nip it in the bud!

Trump's politics is partly responsible for the escalation of violence in Virginia, argues the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“Not for no reason did the right-wing extremists march on Saturday with Trump's election posters, vowing to translate his promises into action. Trump is not responsible for this recent conflict but his election has made the far right feel justified in its demands. The important thing now would be for the president to explicitly condemn the actions of the supremacists, to distance himself from them clearly and put a stop to them with the power of his office. Otherwise Saturday's madness may only be the beginning. The right-wing extremists have already promised to return.”

Evenimentul Zilei (RO) /

The revival of racial hatred

The evil spirits of the past are back to haunt the United States, observes Evenimentul Zilei:

“This revival of racial hatred in response to open, free and uncensored speech and politically correct debate will cost America dearly. In the US there are often discussions about discrimination against coloured, Latino/Hispanic minorities or other nationalities. … The return of right-wing extremist demonstrations in the notoriously conservative South where a deep hatred prevails against anyone who thinks differently has opened Pandora's box. This is a return to times we thought had ended when Barack Obama was voted into the White House eight years ago.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Redistribution policies have fuelled racism

The "white supremacy" movement has its roots in a new form of social injustice, La Repubblica argues:

“To promote the formation of a new black middle class, measures were taken that reached their limits with the economic crisis and have now led to white people making provocative demands. … Positive discrimination took place under the liberal banner of justice. It led to inclusion but sowed resentment and anger against the 'recipients' of the privileges because they were black. This resentment is the basis for understanding the nature of the new racism which is also a reaction - of socially marginalised, non-prosperous whites against even more marginalised and even poorer blacks. Poor against poor, but in the name of race, never in the name of class.”

Sabah (TR) /

Uprising of the privileged

Sabah scoffs at the demonstrations of the far-right:

“The sections of US society which - still - make up the majority, are rising up. What are they protesting against? In a nutshell, against the fact that they no longer have the autocratic supremacy they enjoyed in the past. Are their rights curtailed in restaurants, on the bus, in education or in elections, as used to be the case with blacks? Are they exposed to random gun attacks by the police, as continues to be the case with anyone who is not white in America? Or is their property being seized and they themselves forcibly displaced? Are they not being called to job interviews because of their skin colour? All irony aside, it's just like the expression says: For the privileged, equality is brutality.”