WHITE LABELS AND THE WHITE HOUSE
With the introduction of a white supremacist, neo-Nazi supporting, KKK endorsed, racist enabler of Alt-Right populism into the White House, perhaps it is time to break down what each of those controversial, shit-disturbing labels means.
These labels are thrown around as if they are interchangeable insults, collected by our minority-elected president proudly – like war ribbons on the chest of a bone-spur cadet who successfully avoided serving our country in any manner whatsoever. What color would that uniform be? All together now: yellow.
Let’s break them down, so that when we use them, we truly know what each one means.
A white supremacist is someone who believes that the white race is “inherently superior” to all others, and therefore should be in control of other races. White supremacy can exist in different forms, and have different ideas of who is actually considered white, and different groups of white supremacists can actually consider different racial and cultural groups as their main enemy. But they all hate the Jews.
White supremacist beliefs are frequently based in the ideas of “scientific racism,” the fake news version of science, that seeks to prove that different races are genetically predisposed to different traits or behaviors, and as a result, must be kept apart from the pure. (MicNetworkInc)
Trump has demonstrated this behavior as far back as his gene pool when his father, Fred Trump, was arrested in 1926 along with seven others at a KKK march in New York City. He avoided renting to African Americans in the 1970’s and gave preferential treatment to whites according to the Federal Government who sued Trump twice in the 1970’s for housing discrimination. (New York Times)
There are dozens of other documented examples of Trump’s racism and white supremacist behavior, but the Mt. Vesuvius of all of them was his response to the Charlottesville, Virginia rally in August 2017. Hundreds of Neo-Nazis, KKK members, and white supremacists marched through the city, inciting massive anti-racist protests, and led to the death of one protester when a known white supremacist drove his car into the protestors.
Trump’s response to the racist frenzy and murder was to suggest there were “very fine people on both sides,” and initially refused to condemn the neo-Nazis, the KKK, or the white supremacists. Then he did. Then he walked it back.
White separatism is a form of white supremacy that strongly believes that white people “should exist separately from all inferior, non-white races.” (adl.org) Furthermore, this should be established by physically removing non-whites from wherever the whites are, thereby establishing all-white communities.
White separatists believe that people of European decent are biologically and culturally superior to people from non-European regions, and should therefore enjoy a privileged status because of their “racial” hierarchy and supremacy.
You can actually see the Trump white separatist leanings by looking at any picture of his cabinet, or at pictures of his White House interns, which are white by a sickening majority. Or look at his picks for judicial nominees that are 90 percent white. There is one African-American, one Asian-American, one Hispanic, and one woman claiming Indian-American heritage. (Newsweek) There are only five women, but that is a different campaign ribbon.
This clearly demonstrates a preference for whites only in the White House, and also indicates a strong desire to maintain a privileged and elevated standing for white people, especially white men.
Trump’s separatist leanings came exploding to the surface in a January 2018 meeting in the Oval Office, when he called El Salvador, Haiti, and African countries “shitholes,” and suggested that the United States should bring more people in from countries like Norway. (Washington Post)
You know, white people.
This is a form of white supremacy and separatism that believes white people are a race, and wants not just a country identified by white racial identity, but all of Western civilization to do so as well. (splcenter.org) They believe that a predominately white nation should remain predominately white, the white majority should be maintained in the United States, and that changing demographics, i.e. immigration and multiculturalism, is a threat, and non-whites should be removed from the country.
Some see very little difference between white nationalism and white supremacy, but Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at Birkbeck University in London, explains that “white supremacy is based on a racist belief that white people are innately superior to people of other races; white nationalism is about maintaining political and economic dominance.” (New York Times)
Trump set his tiny hands in the white nationalist concrete when he hired Steve Bannon as his senior counselor and chief strategist. Bannon was the former editor of Breitbart News, which he described as “the platform of the alt-right” (we will get to that in a moment), and his website went to great lengths to cater to audiences that support all forms of white nationalism, separatism, and supremacy.
The notorious American white supremacist Richard Spencer, who runs the right wing website AlternativeRight.com and is the director of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank (oxymoron?), strongly supported the choice of Bannon by Trump because his followers “love ethno-nationalist views and strongly support the idea of “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to remove nonwhite people from American soil. (Wikipedia)
Perhaps the strongest and most consistent voice in the ear of the all-caps president is senior advisor for policy, Stephen Miller. Despite growing up in a Jewish immigrant family, Miller became a conservative after reading NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s book as a youth. That led him straight to the white nationalist playground when he demanded Latino students speak only English, openly stated, “Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School,” and then invited David Horowitz, of the designated hate group David Horowitz Freedom Center, to speak at Santa Monica High School. (splcenter.org)
Miller then attended Duke University, where he again invited Horowitz to speak, and helped him launch his Terrorism Awareness Project, that sponsored an “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” which included the screening of the film Obsession produced by the founder of the anti-Muslim hate group Clarion Project. (splcenter.org)
Duke is also where he teamed up with Richard Spencer to solidify his anti-immigration positions. Miller would later claim to have mentored Spencer. Miller also accused poet Maya Angelou of “racial paranoia” and described the on campus Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan as a “radical national Hispanic group that believes in racial superiority.” (NewYorker)
Duke University is probably tweeting “SMH” right now.
The Alt-Right is an all-encompassing term that is used by many different factions of the racist far-right to identify themselves and their movement. It is a term coined by Richard Spencer (see above) in 2010, promoted by Steve Bannon on Breitbart, and is meant to consolidate “a range of different ideologies that put white identity at their centers.” (MicNetworkInc)
They also strongly lash out at situations where they feel their speech is restricted because of “political correctness” which, they believe, is enforced by a globalized group of elites – another white supremacist code word for Jews. It is this twisted viewpoint that allows them to present themselves (at least to themselves) as the steadfast defenders of American society against the evil left-wing political correctness that tries to keep them from saying . . . racist things.
Steve Bannon, who spent some time in the White House as Trump’s Senior Counselorand Chief Strategist, is a self-proclaimed economic nationalist (see White Nationalist above), who rigorously advocates for anti-immigration stances, and has considered being called a “racist,” a “xenophobe,” and a “nativist,” a “badge of honor.” (Joshua Green, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency)
Bannon, whose hostility towards the EU is “hardly a secret,” has lately been on a world tour “spreading the gospel of the national populist revolt,” and sees Europe as fertile ground for his hatred of immigrants. (theguardian) It is possible that he had some influence in Italy’s recent sudden lurch to the right, and their refusal to accept the overloaded immigrant rescue ship that floundered in the Mediterranean Sea until Spain finally granted them harbor.
Richard Spencer, who also has been described as a neo-Nazi is perhaps best known for giving a speech with Nazi salutes at a white-nationalist conference held by the National Policy Institute to celebrate Trump’s victory. He was also a featured speaker at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump’s constant drumbeat of criticism of immigrants, and his near code wording application of the phrase “make America great again,” has tapped into the cultural anxieties that the different factions that make up the Alt-Right feel, which drove his success with older, less-educated white voters (NewYorkTimes)
Trump went all-in on his pandering to the Alt-Right in his campaign when, in 2016, he announced that all Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists, and that Mexico was not sending their best people. This fired up the poor, uneducated white male voters, because finally they had an enemy for the dire situation they found themselves in economically. They had someone to blame.
Neo-Nazis believe that a country’s social problems can be traced back to a “Jewish conspiracy that supposedly controls governments, financial institutions and the media.” (MicNetworkInc) They share a love of Hitler and Nazi Germany, and adopt its symbolism, hold prejudiced views towards other minority groups, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community, but save a special place of hatred for the Jews, who they consider to be the “cardinal enemy.”
Trump cemented his connection to the Neo-Nazis when he refused to condemn not only their overall ideology, but declared their participation in the Unite The Right Rally in Charlotte, Virginia to be on an equal moral footing as the protestors who showed up to voice their opposition to racial and discriminatory hatred.
The term “Nazis” is generally reserved for former members of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party which ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolph Hitler and oversaw the Holocaust. (theatlantic)
This term is thrown about a lot, frequently in the direction of Trump for his white nationalist and extremely xenophobic stances, i.e. the separation of immigrant children from their parents, as a means of intimidation, with no plans whatsoever to reunite them. Ever. But I think it is safe to say that Trump is not actually a member of the Nationalist Socialist German Workers’ Party.
KLU KLUX KLAN
The Klu Klux Klan was founded by ex-Confederate officers in the aftermath of the Civil War, and was intentionally designed to intimidate and murder freed black men and white Republicans who sought to establish a working, multi-racial democracy in the South.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the second wave of the KKK rose as a “fraternity” dedicated to preserving white supremacy, and added anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia to their dogma.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the third wave of KK emerged as a response to the Civil Rights movements of the era.
The Current KKK is “more of a movement than a single organized group” that is spread across multiple approaches, including militant factions supporting violence, and those attempting mainstream recognition, like David Duke. (theatlantic)
We have yet to uncover any evidence that Trump is a member of the KKK. But he is heavily supported by their former Grand Wizard.
This is a “reactionary conservative ideology” which revives the pro-Confederate sentiment in the U.S. It is strongly nativist, which is a term that certainly encompasses white supremacy, white nationalism, and white separatism. They seek to preserve the “fundamental values” of Christianity and heritage, and believe that modern Americans have abandoned these ideas. They are openly secessionist and openly hostile towards democracy.The movement is grounded in Confederate revivalism and a deep-rooted nostalgia for the “Old South.” It “incorporates advocacy of traditional gender roles, is hostile towards democracy, strongly opposes homosexuality, and exhibits an understanding of race that favors segregation and suggests white supremacy.” (Southern Poverty Law Center)
So white nationalist with a Christian right twist and a generous helping of sexism.
What separates the Neo-Confederate movement from other white supremacists is its focus on historical narrative, specifically the “Lost Cause” mythology of the Civil War which portrays the South as a victim of Northern aggression against states’ rights, as well as attempting to separate themselves from the brutish KKK, and instead trying to put a more academic front on their movement. (theatlantic)
Ed Kilgore, writing for New York Magazine around the time of the Charlottesville Rally, states that the century-long Neo-Confederate movement existed to normalize white racism, so long as it did not degenerate into extralegal violence, and felt that it had nearly run its course. Confederate symbols were finally being removed and even hard-core conservatives were beginning to understand the icons were part of a “retroactive effort to whitewash history in the pursuit of racist lies.”
But Trump’s hate-filled campaign rallies, his calls for violence, his mocking of African Americans, Mexicans, Muslims and immigrants, eliminated the progress that had been made in acts of simple racial decency. Good behavior quickly became replaced with “hostility to political correctness – defined as sensitivity to the fears and concerns of, well, anyone other than white men – became a hallmark of the “populist” conservatism Trump made fashionable and ultimately ascendant.” (NewYorkMagazine)
Trump’s failure to effectively and rigorously condemn the Unite The Right Rally’s participants, firmly placed him side-by-side with the Neo-Confederates.
Populism is a political ideology that combines right-wing politics and populist themes such as anti-elitism, opposition to the system, and claiming to speak for the “common people.” At its core is an idea that society is separated into two groups at odds with each other: “the pure people” and “the corrupt elite.” (Cas Mudde, author of Populism: A Very Short Introduction)A populist candidate will claim to be representing the “will of the people” and stands in opposition to any enemy, which is often the current political system, and aims to “drain the swamp” or get rid of the “liberal elite.” (bbc)
The populist leader displays “bad manners” or behaves in ways that aren’t customary for politicians, in an attempt to endear them to the common man. Populism likes to perpetuate a constant state of crisis to demonstrate that the candidate or leader is fighting hard against a common enemy.
They dislike the “complicated democratic systems of modern government,” (bbc) and then sell tax cuts to the voters as the “secret ingredient to send economic growth soaring, leading to equivalent or even greater government revenue and keeping budgets under control.” (TheGlobeAndMail) This concept was floated during the Reagan administration and resulted in high future deficits and debt, with little sustained growth.
The populist also calls for a reduction of government regulations as a pillar of its fiscal policy, claiming that regulations are “strangling” business and restricting personal freedoms.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Trump gave a “drain the swamp” speech on the campaign trail in October 2016 that called for ethics reforms (he actually said this), and a host of actions that would restore faith in what he repeatedly called “a rigged system that rewards the wealthy…at the expense of the common man.” (usatoday)
Much as Hitler did with the Jews in WWII, Trump has also established a common enemy in the immigrant, frequently referring to them as “animals.”
Trump repeatedly called people vulgar names during the campaign, used face to face insults during the presidential debates, and his blatant willingness to make up facts during an argument or speech, demonstrates his non-customary “bad behavior” that populists employ to ensnare the common man. “See, he’s one of us! He talks like we do.”
His tax cut plan is textbook populism. He promised that the tax code would become so simple that you could file your returns on a postcard; he said the greatest benefit of the cuts would be for the middle class; he claimed “the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” and it will be the “Biggest Tax Cuts and Reform EVER passed.”
In reality, there was nothing in the bill that called for the creation of new forms, the biggest beneficiaries of the tax cuts were corporations and the wealthy, the tax cut was the 8thlargest as a percentage of GDP since 1918, and would add $1 Trillion to the deficit. (ABC News)
There are other labels that can be applied as well, such as: racist, liar, sexist, bigot, homophobic, xenophobic, narcissist, egotist, megalomaniac, and the recently popular dotard, all of which can be prolifically footnoted and demonstrated by quotes, tweets and behavior since the campaign began.
But these really are the building blocks of immoral, discriminatory and evil behaviors that are common traits contained within the larger, organized, labels of white supremacy, white separatist, white nationalism, the alt-right, neo-Nazi, neo-Confederacy, and populism.
There are not good people “on both sides.”
Now go forth without worry that you will somehow offend a white supremacist by calling him the wrong term, and use these labels with complete confidence. I believe in you.