WP: How America’s dying white supremacist movement is seizing on Donald Trump’s appeal

Washington Post:

The same rhetoric that frightens critics (“Trump has really lifted the lid off a Pandora’s box of real hatred and directed it at Muslims,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok) draws praise from supporters such as former Louisiana politician and KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

Duke told The Post that while he has not officially endorsed Trump, he considers the candidate to be the “best of the lot” at the moment.

“I think a lot of what he says resonates with me,” Duke said…

Jared Taylor, the editor of American Renaissance, a white-nationalist magazine and website based in Northern Virginia, told the New Yorker that Trump may be in denial about the makeup of his base.

“I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me,” Taylor told the magazine, “but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”

During Trump’s meteoric rise to the top of the Republican field, white supremacist groups have enthusiastically embraced him.

Stormfront, one of the most popular white nationalist websites, claims that a surge of Trump-inspired traffic has forced administrators to upgrade their servers, according to Politico.

Site founder Don Black told The Post that Trump has “inspired an insurgency” for users of the site and listeners of a Stormfront radio show.

“It’s all very surprising to me,” Black said. “I would have never expected he be the great white hope, of all people. But it’s happening. So that’s what we talk about. That’s what so many of our people are inspired by.”

…In a recent post on the white nationalist blog Occidental Observer, Kevin MacDonald — described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the neo-Nazi movement’s favorite academic” — wrote that Trump’s candidacy is helping America realize that a “very large number of White people are furious” about the where the country is headed.

“We are living in very exciting times,” MacDonald wrote. “A major political candidate is saying things that have been kept out of the mainstream for decades by a corrupt elite consensus on immigration and multiculturalism that dominates both the GOP and the Democrats.”

MacDonald called Trump’s candidacy “a game changer” that “has a very real possibility of success,” adding:

“In this new climate, millions of White people are realizing that it’s entirely legitimate to oppose immigration and multiculturalism.

It’s okay to oppose the idea that every last human has the moral right to immigrate to a Western country, or that all peoples and cultures are equally acceptable as immigrants. And it’s safe to say that millions of White people are changing what they think.”

“I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” National Policy Institute director Richard Spencer told the New Yorker. But Spencer, called “one of the country’s most successful young white nationalist leaders” by the SPLC, told the New Yorker that Trump reflects “an unconscious vision that white people have — that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it. I think it’s there.”

He added: “I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon. I think he is the one person who can tap into it.”

It wasn’t always like this.

During the embryonic days of the campaign — way back when Trump was still known more for televised business deals than anything-goes bombast — Matthew Heimbach was like many conservative voters: uninterested in Trump.

But six months later, the 24-year-old said he finds himself caught in an all-powerful Trumpian tractor beam.

“It’s exciting to see, and I didn’t expect it,” Heimbach told The Post.

How did that happen, exactly?

The same way it has for millions of other conservatives, who have been drawn to the candidate’s outspoken and seemingly unscripted rhetoric aimed at working-class voters already seething about poor economic prospects, the “menace” of illegal immigration and the persistent threat of violent crime.

And yet, Heimbach is no ordinary conservative.

He’s an influential and avowed white nationalist, a divisive and radical outsider who gave up on mainstream politicians years ago. As a polarizing student at Towson University, Heimbach made headlines by unsuccessfully attempting to establish a White Student Union and leading controversial night patrols to combat a so-called “black crime wave,” according to the SPLC, which monitors hate speech.

The onetime member of the neo-Confederate League of the South never thought he’d be back under the Republican umbrella.

But then Trump began talking about “building a great, great wall on our southern border.”

“This is the first time since Buchanan in the ’90s and George Wallace in ’68 where you have a guy outside the mainstream speaking to white interests,” Heimbach told The Post.

“Donald Trump, whether he meant to or not, has opened this floodgate that I don’t think can be restrained regardless of what happens in the 2016 elections,” Heimbach added.

Trump didn’t exactly create this new wave of radical support, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Potok.

What Trump is doing, Potok told The Post, is taking a “subterranean community” of people that, until recently, existed underground and online and bringing them into the light of mainstream America. Hostile towards minority groups, fearful of seismic changes in racial demographics and cultural norms, and frustrated by corrupt politicians they perceive as cowed by politically correct culture, it is a bloc of Americans who have been quietly seething, Potok said.

“Even 15 years ago, same-sex marriage is something that seemed unimaginable, and now it’s the law of the land,” he said. “For a pretty sizable number of Americans, that’s unbelievable. They feel like ground is being cut from under them, like they inhabit a world they don’t recognize.”

Trump, Potok said, has opened a conversation about an America that never really existed. That conversation might include factually incorrect information, such as a tweet last month showing an image of a dark-skinned man holding a handgun above a series of inflammatory statistics that Politifact described as “wildly inaccurate.”

Originally posted by a neo-Nazi, the information was disseminated by Trump one day after Trump supporters assaulted a black activist at a rally in Alabama.

But accuracy and basis in reality aren’t what matter to some of Trump’s supporters, Potok said.

“What his statements do is open up a political space for people that have these radical feelings and he gives them permission to speak out, loudly and proudly,” he said. “Accuracy is beside the point.”

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said it’s difficult to verify white supremacist claims that Trump is drawing new members into their ranks because their ranks are closely held secrets.

What is verifiable, she said, is the surge in postings on websites such as Stormfront each time Trump makes a controversial statement.

That excitement, she noted, stems from the belief among white supremacists that a front-runner is knowingly championing their agenda by using both explicit and coded language.

“These groups are constantly trying to reach whites that they think would be attracted if they were just inspired enough,” Mayo told The Post. “What it does is allow the mainstreaming of hate.”

“They’re using Trump and his message to bring more people and more money into their fold, and that’s a tremendous concern.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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