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White Nationalists, Coming To Your Local College Campus

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

In early 2017, Donald Trump took to his medium of choice to simultaneously defend alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and admonish those who had protested his appearance at a California campus.

“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” Trump wrote in a pre-dawn tweet nearly a year ago to the day.

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s threat was empty, since presidents can’t single-handedly cut off federal loans to educational institutions. But more important than the substance of his tweet was its subtext: in the fray between the racist alt-right and its opponents, the president was stating his unequivocal support for the racists. Months later, Trump would restate his position when he referred to a group of white nationalists and neo-Nazis as “very fine people.”

There have always been racists in this country—the U.S. was founded on and prospered from genocide and slavery—but this president’s open support has given extremists a bold new confidence. Trump might be happy to know that the white supremacists he publicly sympathizes with have stepped up their recruitment efforts on campuses all around America.

Over the course of a year, there has been an exponential increase in incidents of “white supremacist propaganda—flyers, stickers, banners, and posters—appearing on college and university campuses,” according to a new study from the Anti-Defamation League. Researchers note that during the fall semester of 2016, there were 41 reports of these incidents on campuses around the country. One year later, that figure increased by more than 3.5 times to 147 incidents. Since September 2016, the ADL has tracked 346 examples of white racist propaganda on “216 college campuses, from Ivy League schools to local community colleges.” In 2018 alone, there have already been 15 reports.

The ADL stresses that these incidents have happened throughout the U.S., “in 44 states and the District of Columbia.” White supremacist organization American Vanguard papered the UT Austin campus in early 2016, putting up flyers urging students to “imagine a Muslim-free America.” At Central Michigan University last Valentine’s Day, students received an anti-Semitic card featuring an image of Adolf Hitler and the words “my love 4 u burns like 6,000 jews.” Posters were found on both the George Washington University and University of Maryland campuses exhorting white students to “report any and all illegal aliens” because “America is a white nation.” Those incidents, based on ADL’s count, are just the teeniest fraction of what’s happening on schools from coast to coast.

The groups spreading hate at American colleges belong to the longstanding tradition of U.S. white terrorist groups using paraphernalia both to make their presence known to potential new members and to intimidate people of color and other targeted groups. Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, highlighted these goals last March as he spoke about the rise in white racist college recruitment efforts in the New York Times.

“Flyers allow them to not only recruit but get public attention. It’s not only part of the way they can identify sympathizers but terrorize marginalized communities,” Greenblatt stated. “Social media allows them to go to very targeted audiences in specific ways. Flyers starting to show up saying that any one of these organizations is here and present will not only raise eyebrows but I think really heighten concerns among organizations of students and that’s what they want.”

With the ascent of Trump, who revealed his own racist attitudes as both a candidate and president, alt-right activists have made colleges a centerpiece of their recruitment strategies. Figures such as Richard Spencer (one of the giggling neo-Nazis seig heiling in this video) have rushed to college campuses under the guise of defending free speech. Putting colleges on the defensive for not showing the proper enthusiasm while letting fascists take the lectern is a neat trick, and it’s worked incredibly well. Many universities have bowed to alt-right pressure and allowed figures like Yiannopoulos, who planned to publicly announce the names of undocumented UC Berkeley students, to appear (the talk was later canceled). The result is that students are left to raise their voices against the speakers, and protests can erupt beyond expectations. Never mind the hundreds of thousands of dollars schools have had to shell out for the costs of hosting these vainglorious extremists and quelling the scenes they provoke.

Numerous white racists have been vocal about their goal of increasing the number of students in their ranks. “We will not rest until alt-right ideas are represented on campuses nationwide,” read a 2017 tweet from the founder of white supremacist group Identity Evropa, Nathan Damigo, whose Italian surname would have kept him out of any “white” power group in the early part of the last century.

“People in college are at this point in their lives where they are actually open to alternative perspectives, for better and for worse,” Richard Spencer told Mother Jones in 2016. “I think you do need to get them while they are young. I think rewiring the neurons of someone over 50 is effectively impossible.”

“It’s striking a blow directly at the heart of our foes,” Matthew Heimbach, a vocal white supremacist who physically attacked a black girl at a Trump rally in 2016, told the Washington Post. “It lets them know that there are people that are radically opposed to them, that aren’t afraid of them, that will challenge them. It shakes their thought that they’ve got the campus environment locked down and lets them know that people who oppose them go to their school or are a part of their local community.”

ADL head Greenblatt notes that we find ourselves in a “political environment where white supremacists have felt more welcome than any time in recent memory.” He suggests colleges find ways to highlight the fact that racist propaganda is a fringe view that has no rightful place on campus or in society at large.

“While campuses must respect and protect free speech, administrators must also address the need to counter hate groups’ messages and show these bigoted beliefs belong in the darkest shadows,” Greenblatt said in a statement, “not in our bright halls of learning.”

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

9 Ultranationalist Trump Supporters Who Are Rapidly Losing Patience With His Presidency

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

To understand just how fractious and ungainly the Trump coalition truly is, look no further than his administration. You’ll find establishment Republicans (White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry), former Tea Party insurgents (CIA director Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke), Wall Street players (Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn), and for the time being, clash-of-civilization ethno-nationalists (Deputy Assistant to the President Seb Gorka), not a few of whom seem to be working at cross purposes.

For the first few months of Trump’s presidency, this unholy confederacy has largely kept in formation. But in the wake of Trump’s recent Tomahawk strike on a Syrian air field, it has begun to splinter, with the president drawing the ire of some of his most loyal troops: the Pepe brigade known as the “alt-right.” Now that he has all but banished former Breitbart chair Steve Bannon from the West Wing, Trump could soon be facing a full-fledged mutiny. Even his neo-fascist admirers in Europe have begun to question his commitment to the nationalist agenda on which he campaigned. (That a loose collection of white supremacists and far-right extremists, however vile its motives, has shown a more unified opposition to military intervention than the Democratic Party is another post for another day).

Here are nine Trump diehards who appear to have turned on their beloved president and political ally. One might even hazard to call them “cucks.”

1. Richard Spencer

The self-proclaimed founder of the alt-right movement, Spencer is the president of the National Policy Institute, a think tank devoted to “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” As recently as November of 2016, Spencer led a conference of more than 200 attendees in a cheer of “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” while delivering a Nazi salute.

Spencer was quick to condemn the missile strikes on Syria, calling for Bannon’s resignation and likening Trump’s presidency to a third term of George W. Bush. The white nationalist, or identitarian as he prefers to be known, even intimated he’d throw his support behind Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in 2020.

2. Mike Cernovich

While he denies any formal ties to the alt-right, this purveyor of deranged conspiracy theories and dubious vitamin supplements has been one of Trump’s most vocal and vitriolic supporters on social media. Just last week, he earned the praise of Donald Trump Jr. for “breaking” the Susan Rice story, a fallacious scandal involving Obama’s former national security adviser that has gone precisely nowhere.

Shortly after the airstrikes, the attorney with a “gorilla mindset” took to Twitter to express his disgust:

3. Milo Yiannopoulos

Yiannopoulos has mercifully retreated from the public eye after video surfaced of him saying pedophilia was a rite of passage for gay men, but prior to that he was Breitbart’s most recognizable personality. He has staged all manner of tedious stunts to express his support for Donald Trump, including bathing in pig’s blood, and refers to the 45th president as “daddy.”

Trump’s about-face on Syria appears to have sent the would-be author into a Freudian tailspin:

4. Paul Joseph Watson

Along with fellow Info Wars host Alex Jones, Watson has spent much of the past year and a half crowing about the globalists in our midst, at least when he’s not daring journalists to visit the mean streets of Malmo. (In February, he suggested the small Swedish city had been overrun with violent immigrants.)

Watson’s journey on the Trump train appears to have come to an abrupt end:


5. Ann Coulter

The conservative radio host and political commentator has been a mouthpiece for right-wing reactionaries before 4chan was a glint in the reddit alien’s eye. Her racist screeds are legion—she’s made a lucrative career of trolling—but lowlights of recent vintage include arguments that Mexicans are “culturally deficient” and that soccer’s growing popularity in the States is a product of our moral decay. Earlier this year, she appeared to offer a bizarre half-nod to neo-Nazis on Twitter.

Coulter has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders—she actually published a book with the title In Trump We Trust—but even she has been rattled by his interventionist turn:


6. Steve King

Last year, the Iowa Congressman argued that white people have “contributed more to civilization” than any other racial “subgroup.” Just last month, he defended Holland’s far-right presidential candidate Geert Wilders, tweeting “Widers understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore civilization with someone else’s babies.” In a related story, he was one of Donald Trump’s most faithful supporters in Congress throughout the 2016 Republican primary and presidential election.

King has grown increasingly disheartened about Steve Bannon’s marginalization in the Trump administration. “A lot of us look at [him] as the voice of conservatism in the White House,” he told Politico.

7. & 8. Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen

Farage is one of the architects of Brexit and a member of Britain’s far-right U.K. Independence Party; Le Pen is the leader of France’s extremist National Front and quite possibly her country’s next president. Both have lavished praise on Trump (Farage adoringly called him a “silverback gorilla” after the second presidential debate). And both have criticized his military action in Syria.

“I think a lot of Trump voters will be scratching their heads hard and asking, ‘Where does this go from here?'” Farage told British radio host Nick Ferrari. “It plays absolutely into the ISIS narrative. I’m really pretty worried about this.”

9. Steve Bannon

It’s premature to include Trump’s chief strategist on this list; Bannon is still a member of the inner circle, and reports indicate that he’s “laying low” so as not to further alienate the president. Yet those same reports seem to suggest that Bannon has grown as disenchanted with Trump as Trump has with Bannon.

According to the Daily Beast, the one-time Breitbart chair calls Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a “cuck” and a “globalist” behind his back. Axios published a separate story Wednesday that revealed Bannon’s allies, if not the man himself, are similarly disdainful of Gary Cohn, who they refer to simply as “Globalist Gary.”

Steve Bannon has called Breitbart a platform for the alt-right and professed his admiration for any number of fascists and white supremacists.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

Against the Rich And Racist

Reprinted with permission from US News.

Given that Donald Trump won the election on a surge of turnout from white working-class voters in Michigan, Ohio and other states that campaign strategists for President Barack Obama once called a “Midwest firewall,” you’d expect the Democrats to compete hard for those voters in the midterm elections of 2018.

That is not turning out to be the case. Instead, party leaders have identified dozens of House Republicans who they believe are vulnerable. These Republicans represent affluent, white and nominally conservative suburban districts outside big cities, like New York City and Philadelphia, and in blue states like California, all districts Hillary Clinton won by a mile.

This strategy is no doubt baffling to some, especially progressives who have demonstrated power through grassroots direct action and through intense lobbying of Democratic senators who are now emboldened to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court. No doubt Bernie Sanders is pulling out what’s left of his hair. This party, he memorably said, has forgotten how to talk to working people. Of course, they are courting Republicans!

The so-called left will see the Democrats’ strategy as another instance in which the working man’s party betrayed the working man, and they will use it to defend their indefensible attacks against the only candidate in November who could govern responsibly, lead competently and do so in everyone’s name.

The so-called left will see the Democrats’ pragmatic play for GOP voters lukewarm on Trump as yet more evidence that the Democratic Party is sucking up to the international neoliberal order. That’s not just wrong, it’s insane, and what we can expect from a so-called left whose views of politics is purely and perversely theoretical. Even so, there’s something to this.

While targeting suburban Republicans in the short-term is prudent, the Democrats must find, in the long term, a way to reach white working-class voters without abandoning their anti-racist and anti-sexist positions. Despite the Obama coalition’s grave apprehensions, the Democrats must compete for every vote, even those of a white working-class that empowered a lying, thieving, philandering sadist who is on course to betraying them. I believe the Democrats can do it and they can do it without returning to bigotry-blind centrism.

First, let’s remember why white working-class voters supported Donald Trump: resentment. Resentment of female empowerment. Resentment of minority achievement. Resentment of the language of female empowerment and minority achievement (aka “political correctness”). All of the above are well-known, but less well-known, because it’s hard to see it through the smog of bigotry and white identity politics, is the resentment of class. To many Trump voters, Hillary Clinton was the distillation of all of the above.

She was powerful, rich and successful, but most of all, she represented an elite caste, a mysterious group of political power-brokers whose interests will lead to working-class ruination. Liberals may find this hard to comprehend, but I’ve come to think that, to many working-class voters, there wasn’t much difference between Hillary Clinton and a “vulture capitalist” like Mitt Romney. In other words, just as Obama in 2012 ran a populist campaign against a rich man, Trump in 2016 ran a populist campaign against a rich women.

That white working-class voters chose a billionaire as their class warrior is not ironic, nor it is reason to think white identity politics is the only thing binding Trump to his supporters. In their view, his wealth is different from Romney’s. Romney made his name tearing apart manufacturing firms that were the backbone of working-class communities. Trump made his name in real estate. It made him politically independent. It freed him of party loyalties and special interests. It gave him the means to smash the Establishment. Wealth wasn’t a liability, as it was for Romney. It was a key asset.

 But there was always a stipulation: that Trump use his power to serve the working class. While the president has made broad gestures to that end, by meeting with the heads of major corporations and by gutting environmental regulations that he and every Republican for decades has said stifles job creation, it is not clear how long the ruse will last. Eventually, reality will set in, and when it does, Trump will cease to be a class warrior. He will be just another old fat rich guy. He will be no more immune to the resentments of the white working-class than Mitt Romney was.

The Democrats can hurry that along. They can remind voters that this White House is packed with millionaires and billionaires. They can highlight the growing gap between Trump’s words and his deeds. But they can do something else, and it’s here where I see the Democrats finding a practical solution to their political paradox.

On the one hand, they must serve a minority base, voters appalled by white nationalists rising to prominence inside and outside the administration. On the other, as I’ve argued, they must find ways to reach white working-class voters. Luckily, the white nationalists offer a solution. It turns out that very prominent white nationalists are also very rich.

Steve Bannon is Trump’s chief strategist and former head of Breitbart News, the house organ of white nationalism. He’s a multimillionaire. Richard Spencer is the hip young face of white nationalism. He lives off his parents’ fortune, a fortune enriched by government subsidies. Samuel Jared Taylor is Spencer’s mentor and editor of American Renaissance, a white nationalist journal. Taylor is a proud graduate of Yale College.

To be sure, many white working-class voters saw nothing wrong with Trump’s overt bigotry, but I’m certain none would raise racism to the level of political philosophy, partly because philosophy is not what working-class people do and partly because working-class people would find almost nothing in common with the likes of Spencer, who lives off mommy and daddy’s bank account.

Republican strategy is so effective because the Republicans always manage the find a boogie man. The socialists. The government. The gays. The whatever. It works, because the Republicans win by dividing, not uniting, the opposite of Democratic needs. But this time, the rise of an extreme political ideology, white nationalism, has created a rare opportunity for the party of the people. The Democrats don’t need to choose between fighting the rich or fighting the racists. In this administration, they are one and the same.