In a highly unusual move, Norway’s foreign minister has publicly criticized the president of the United States, a country always referred to as Norway’s most important ally. Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, however, seems as shocked as many others over how US President Donald Trump has defended white supremacists and won the gratitude of a former head of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville (where a white supremacist drove his car into a group of those demonstrating against a neo-Nazi march, killing a young American woman) & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa (the group “Black Lives Matter” and another that’s anti-facism),” wrote David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Tuesday night, on the social media service Twitter. Duke’s comment came after Trump said he blamed both sides in the tragedy, not just the white supremacists who had initiated a demonstration that set off counter-demonstrations.
At almost the same time, Norway’s own foreign minister, was reacting himself. He had heard Trump’s remarks that have enraged both Democrats and Republicans alike in the US Congress, and set off more protests in the streets of the USA. Brende, from Norway’s Conservative Party that’s running for re-election, took the unusual step of criticizing the US president, highly unusual since the US is such an important ally, and a departure from normal diplomacy.
“By not choosing sides, you also make a choice,” Brende wrote on Twitter in Oslo Wednesday morning. “Trump MUST (he capitalized the Norwegian equivalent of the word, MÅ) crack down hard on racist forces. The thought of white supremacy is repulsive.”
Brende went on to tell Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that “President Trump must distance himself strongly from the racist forces we saw play out in Virginia (the state where Charlottesville is located), and I expect that of the American president.”
Brende added that it’s “important that the USA’s president is completely clear that there is zero tolerance for racism.”
Brende joined many others who were lashing out at Trump after his provocative remarks Tuesday night. Even Trump’s own party colleagues on Capitol Hill were out in force on Twitter, with the Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan writing that “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”
Splitting instead of uniting the US
Yet that’s what Trump created when he initially refused to specifically criticize neo-nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups for the violence in Charlottesville. He later, under pressure, read a statement that he did condemn them, only to make his highly controversial remarks on Tuesday night.
“Mr President, you can’t allow white supremacists to share only part of the blame,” wrote Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
“This is simple: we must condemn and marginalize white supremacist groups, not encourage and embolden them,” wrote Senator Todd Young. Many blamed Trump for doing just that, as evidenced by the former Ku Klux Klan leader’s gratitude.
Other Trump critics included General Robert Neller of the US Marines, numerous members of Congress, musician John Legend and author JK Rowling. Trump was being accused Wednesday of failing to carry out his presidential duty to unite Americans, and was instead dividing them. Trump also faced demonstrators on the streets of New York, where he’d traveled on summer holiday.