The false narrative about Donald Trump and Russia is distracting; it certainly has distracted me from writing about the actual problems with Donald Trump’s presidency over the past few weeks. I am long overdue in pointing out that Donald Trump has a dangerous alliance with white supremacy and these allied forces must be actively opposed here and now.
I don’t believe that Donald Trump, himself, is a white supremacist; or at least no more than your average white person has closeted racism. However, he has certainly surrounded himself with white supremacists. The alt-right, which is a Counter-Enlightenment white supremacy movement akin to the Nazis. The Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed it as such, noting its white supremacy and reactionary (attempt to restore a past way of life) leanings and noting that it was organized by Richard Spencer, who runs the National Policy Institute. Spencer had been a Trump supporter throughout the 2016 election and framed him as an “alt-right hero” who reminds Americans what “makes the white race truly unique and truly wonderful,” according to The Intercept. White supremacy is central to the alt-right movement.
Spencer, moments before being punched in the face by a black flag anarchist, denied being a Neo-Nazi and claimed Neo-Nazis hated him. It’s one of those distinctions that aren’t very useful generally, but apparently, based on a Reddit thread on the question, Richard Spencer doesn’t harbor a hardcore hatred of Jewish people and homosexuals — not doesn’t hate, he just doesn’t hate them enough — so some Neo-Nazis have a problem with him. His movement may have superficial differences with Nazism, but it is still quintessentially Nazi-like.
However, Spencer is not officially part of the Trump Administration, and Trump, to his credit, did explicitly and publicly disavow him and his movement, as reported by Politico, but not until after the election was over. Part of me wants to accept that disavowal, as Trump seemed to be trying to gather the worst elements in the country together during the election, be totally repugnant, and even embezzle from his own campaign by jacking up the prices on services for which he charged the campaign, according to the Huffington Post. It seemed at the time that he was merely trying to allow Hillary to win and make some money on the way, and faced with the reality of actually winning an election he was actively trying to lose, wanted to shoo away those horrifying elements supporting him and ultimately preside as your typical establishment neoliberal/neoconservative would. Yet the ties do not end with Richard Spencer.
Steve Bannon is Trump’s chief strategist and likely his shadow president, calling most of the shots, though the president seems to have ignored his orders to back off Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act, which his news organization, Breitbart, slammed and publicized his discontent with the bill. This may be Trump’s ego; but it is always possible that the move was staged to make it seem like Bannon is not really the one in control. The bill was destined to fail, despite scores of earlier votes in the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act outright in the past, and of course, it isn’t Bannon who is left looking like a fool. There has been no evidence put forward that this was staged, but it is a possibility that we need to keep in mind and bring up if it becomes material to a scandal later on.
Steve Bannon is a leading figure of the alt-right, the movement which Donald Trump has publicly disavowed. Bannon, according to the Los Angeles Times, had once described his news site as a “platform for the alt-right.” Furthermore, equating Christianity with whiteness, Bannon has called for a Christian holy war against Islam, according to Salon, which explains a lot of the Islamophobia coming out of the Trump Administration, from calling for refugees to be screened by religion, to the multiple attempts at a Muslim ban, to the genocidal implications that Donald Trump may have stopped trying to avoid killing civilians when bombing Muslim countries, as suggested by the New York Times.
White Supremacy as a Policy
One of President Trump’s first acts as president was to have U.S. counterterrorism efforts focus entirely upon Islamic extremists, and notably ignore white supremacists, as reported by Salon. Even the conservative Washington Times noted in 2015 that most terrorist attacks on American soil since September 11, 2001, have been committed by white supremacists, though the paper decided to contrast white supremacists from terrorists purely semantically. Trump’s policy, presumably directed by Bannon, is extremely racially motivated and caters to white supremacists.
It is uncertain if it is because this policy has energized the worst of the white supremacists, or because cases surrounding white supremacy are thus wrapping up, possibly a mix of both, but we can point to an uptick in white supremacist plots since this policy took effect.
It wasn’t long after this declaration that the FBI arrested Benjamin Samuel Thomas McDowell, who had purchased a firearm in preparation for a mass killing which he felt would be in the spirit of Dylan Roof, who had coldly murdered nine members of a black congregation. According to USA Today, he had not yet selected a target, but a Facebook post about a Jewish synagogue in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in December had started his investigation.
“McDowell’s expletive-filled posts on Facebook complained about Jewish people destroying ‘the white man’ and about people being willing to have the heart to do what Roof did.
“After putting a message on Facebook that he wanted ‘iron,’ or a gun, McDowell agreed to meet with an undercover FBI agent to make the purchase. McDowell believed the person handled problems for the Aryan Nations.”
Shortly before that, but still after Trump’s declaration, William Christopher Gibbs, a white supremacist, was arrested after he went to the hospital for exposure to ricin, a poison which is of little concern unless deliberately manufactured at high enough levels to cause damage and is then a biological weapon, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The agent was found in high concentrations in his car and presumably he was manufacturing it for a massive terror attack upon people of color. Gibbs was a member of the Georgia Church of Creativity, which is a white supremacist church which proclaims “race is our religion.”
Later that same month, we had a day of bomb threats as Jewish community centers and schools across 11 states, according to NPR, though all threats turned out to be hoaxes. The affected states were diverse: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Of course, Donald Trump, whose daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, are Jewish, made even more news by suggesting that Jewish groups called in the threats as a false flag operation to make him and his supporters look bad, according to The Intercept. The suggestion originated with white supremacist websites, which the president repeated as fact.
Of course, it is important to address claims that Donald Trump was indeed right, as can be found in posts on 21st Century Wire, InfoWars, and other right wing sites. As was mentioned in the previous Intercept article’s update, Juan Thompson, a former Intercept writer, who was fired in January for falsifying sources and quotes, was arrested for making similar threats.
The Washington Post, which 21st Century Wire cites, explained that he had made at least eight threats over the past few months, but the FBI does not believe he is behind the majority of them. According to the police report offered by the Intercept, his involvement in threats was primarily related to implicating an ex-girlfriend, a social worker in New York City, in such threats and seems to have primarily emailed groups like the Anti-Defamation League from various email addresses stating that she was behind whichever current bomb threat was going on. This was not the culmination of a single day, but rather months of work spanning from July, 2016, until his arrest in March. The vast majority of bomb threats still appear to have been made by actual white supremacists.
Just recently we were given the story of James Harris Jackson, a white supremacist who traveled from Baltimore to New York to kill as many black men as possible. According to the Washington Post, Jackson chose New York, rather than Baltimore, which has a very significant African-American population, because New York is the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement. Fortunately, it seems he could only kill one, 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, before he was caught. Unfortunately, one is more than none.
With the Trump Administration looking to dismiss the actions of white supremacists and keep state attention away from their machinations, we should expect that incidents such as these will continue to rise in the near future. At this point, the only thing Donald Trump can do to redeem himself is to engineer a crackdown on white supremacists like this country has never seen before. However, that doesn’t seem likely as he still has an alliance with white supremacists who still staff his administration and still direct his policy toward white supremacy.
As I said in the beginning of this article: I do not believe Donald Trump is a white supremacist himself. However, I can only hold that belief because I can genuinely believe that he is so much of a clueless tool that he can have white supremacists running his administration and be in denial about it. Sad.
When we focus on trivial falsehoods, like the Russia scandal, which the Intercept recently reported is unlikely to find any collusion as Democratic Party officials are telling followers to not expect any, we lose sight of the real and tangible problems in front of us. We have white supremacists giving a much emphasized meaning of the name of the White House. Hillary was an amazingly horrible candidate and represented everything that Americans are pissed off about how this country is run; the nastiness and clandestine dealings of this woman and her close associates were revealed in leaks that were not provided by Russia.
In order for the Democratic establishment to attempt to maintain the neoliberal/neoconservative status quo in this country we are distracting attention from the very serious and immediate threat of white supremacy in America today, empowered and emboldened by the rantings of a tool being manipulated, not by Vladimir Putin, but by white supremacists. I suppose they feel that their ability to build massive fortunes for themselves and their patrons outweighs the loss of lives of people of color.
[Featured Image by Handout/Getty Images]