Kinda Forget; Maybe Again

It’s no mere coincidence that the Donald Trump candidacy has been complemented by an uptick in racist activism.

The push to make the United States a country for white people – spearheaded by several well-funded white nationalist non-profits – has finally taken hold as their racist talking points have finally penetrated the conservative mainstream. Whether in the form of political rallies, academic conferences, or street violence, the white hate movement had been more active and more popular than is has been in recent decades.

Not unlike the years leading up to Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany, racist vigilantes have taken to the streets. The refrain “get out of my country” is hurled at homeless Latinos being beaten in Boston, American Sikhs being brutalized in Chicago, and American journalists being kicked out of Donald Trump pressers. Again, like those proto-fascist days of old, Trump deftly denies all involvement in such calamities while refusing to denounce them.

Those to whom Trump does not appeal write him off as a sideshow, although the credibility of that line of reasoning is dwindling. Like Benito Mussolini, Trump thrives on a clownish yet bombastic form of conspiratorial masculinist nationalism. He’d just as soon criticize his opponents for their appearance as he would their financial allegiance to trans-national corporations.

Like his dictatorial predecessors, Trump stirs up conspiracies about foreign countries intentionally sending their citizens to take down the country from the inside. So perhaps it should be no surprise that he has managed to secure endorsements from Klansmen and neo-Nazis.

For most who don’t pay attention to the white nationalist right (and why would you?), this seems rather innocuous; however, this is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Trump campaign. The neo-Nazis that have endorsed Trump almost never endorse political candidates – particularly presidential candidates.

For the most part, neo-Nazis are against the electoral process itself. As far as they are concerned, elections open up the state apparatus to the “demographic threat” of any combination of Jews, communists, immigrants, people of color, queer folks, etc. For a prominent white nationalist to endorse a political candidate is potential political (and financial) suicide.

In spite of this, they are willing to sacrifice their credibility for what Spencer calls “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” Invoking a manufactured urgent desperation, Jared Taylor (warning: hate site) sees Trump as “the last hope for a president who would be good for white people.” Kevin MacDonald (warning: hate site) makes the point to cast Trump as merely one step in the war for white supremacy, writing:

“Trump, uniquely, is positioned to strike a real blow to these entrenched [Jewish] elites because of his celebrity status and the fact that he is not dependent on their financial support. It’s  encouraging that despite the deluge of positive messages on immigration emanating from the mainstream media, elite attitudes on immigration still do not resonate with most Americans.”

Trump appears to be playing a similar game. Where his white nationalist supporters give their cautious support, Trump only gives them cautious rebuke. When pressed about his endorsement from David Duke, Trump gave only a lukewarm repudiation, doing so “if it would make you feel better.” When asked of his opinion on his name being invoked in a racist beating, he remarked, “the people who are following me are very passionate.” When asked when the US is going to get rid of Muslims, Trump responded, “We’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.”

As much as Trump says he doesn’t need anyone’s endorsement, he’s certainly loath to alienate his followers on the extreme right.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Mike Isaacson is an antifascist scholar pursuing his PhD in economics & history at the New School for Social Research where he studies the contemporary radical right.

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