As Donald Trump comes under fire for his refusal to acknowledge white nationalism as a problem, a new report finds that Trump himself has re-tweeted messages from openly white nationalist accounts, including at least four that were later suspended for spreading hate on Twitter.
Trump, this week, was widely criticized for refusing to say that a rise in white nationalism has led to violence both in the United States and across the world. Trump was asked about the rise in the violent ideology in the wake of an attack from an avowed white nationalist in New Zealand that left 50 people dead.
As The Associated Press noted, Trump was asked if he believed that white nationalism posed a rising threat worldwide and denied that it is a problem.
“I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” Trump answered. “I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. They’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”
As the report noted, a study from the Anti-Defamation League found that Trump was wrong, with white supremacist propaganda efforts increasing by 300 percent between 2017 and 2018.
Donald Trump himself has, at times, amplified messages from white nationalists online. As Vox found in an analysis of Trump’s Twitter activity, the president has, on several occasions, retweeted messages from accounts that openly promote white nationalism. That included a Twitter account with a handle that included the words “White genocide,” a white nationalist idea that the goal of immigration is to eradicate white culture. The messages Trump has re-tweeted are not racist in nature, usually instead praising Trump or attacking his enemies, but critics note that Trump seems to have these openly white nationalist Twitter users on his radar.
But he has shared some openly racist and white nationalist messages, the report added.
“More prominently, there’s Jayda Fransen, a far-right British politician who was publicly kicked off Twitter not long after Trump retweeted three hoax videos from her account that purported to show Muslims engaging in violence against whites,” the report noted, adding that Fransen is a member of a political party that believes “white Christian civilization is under threat from Muslims.”
In Opinion@DLeonhardt writes on President Trump, "The president’s continued encouragement of violence — and of white nationalism — is part of the reason that white-nationalist violence is increasing."https://t.co/RQtGQutKQn— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 18, 2019
Early in his presidential campaign, Donald Trump also retweeted a graphic claiming to show “black crime states,” but used fabricated numbers that made it look as if black people were violent and targeting white people. The political blog Little Green Footballs traced the graphic back to its source, an avowed Neo-Nazi who posted it to Twitter and later deleted it. Trump himself never deleted his tweet referencing the fake statistics, and defended posting it in an interview with Bill O’Reilly.