The ideas expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The New Courier.
Donald Trump did not create White supremacy, but he is their figurehead
By Dennis Austin
Feb. 12, 2019
On notable White supremacist website Stormfront.org, Stacey Abrams, who was chosen as the Democratic response to Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, was referred to in a post as an “Angry Negress” and as a “Mammy two-shoes.” Empire actor Jussie Smollet, who was allegedly attacked in Chicago, is referred to as a “Queer Negro.” The website is also filled with Zionist conspiracy theories, homophobic, and anti-immigrant sentiments. So what does this have to do with Donald Trump you may ask? Quite enough if you follow along.
Beginning with his explosive introductory campaign speech in 2015, Donald J. Trump has created a safe space for White nationalists who feel under attack from what they deem as an attack on White society. White men in particular feel that they are slowly becoming victimized by political correctness, affirmative action, and other cultural and societal changes that are occurring. Engineered by the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President and the Democratic Party nominating Hillary Clinton as the first woman candidate in 2016, this segment of White society felt as if they were “losing” their country. Those events spurred the now infamous chant of “Make America Great Again.”
This segment of White society saw Donald Trump as their “White knight.” There is a laundry list of racial sentiment spewed by then Presidential candidate Donald Trump, which attracted these individuals to his campaign. He called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States in 2015, later clarifying that his ban was only meant for individuals coming from notable war-torn Islamic countries. The problem with that ban (as it was struck down in the circuit courts) was that the countries listed as problematic, harbored little, if any terrorism. The only exception was Saudi Arabia. You can figure that out for yourself. Shortly after President Trump’s upset victory in 2016, the FBI noted that hate crimes against Muslims rose 67% from 154 incidents in 2014 to 257 incidents in 2015.
Who can also forget the President’s decade long campaign to discredit President Barack Obama. As former First Lady Michelle Obama notes in her book, Becoming, she stated that Trump’s attacks on her husband and his status as a legal American citizen caused notable security concerns for her family. She stated that she will never forgive him. His birtherism campaign surged his popularity among White nationalists who frequent groups such as Stormfront.
Here’s the weird aspect of this whole thing. In 2016, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said that the candidate rejects White nationalism. In 2000, Donald Trump (who was rumored to run for President then) left the Reform Party in 2000, due to its ties with famed White Nationalist David Duke. President Trump also supported the removal of the confederate flag in South Carolina, and even fired a staffer for posting racialized content on their social media platform. This then begs the question. Does Donald Trump know what he’s doing?
On one hand there are notable instances where the President has stirred up racial tensions in the United States and any attempt to downplay that results from someone being ignorant of our current issues in this country. There’s also this supposedly anti-racist Donald Trump who holds no tolerance for it. In his post-election interview with CBS 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl in which he denounced racist activity that occurred following his victory over Hillary Clinton. What is his true motive here? Why is he “palling” around with White supremacists with his rhetoric yet also with the swift of his hand denouncing racism. Is he playing two sides of the coin here? In a 1991 interview with CNN’s Larry King, Donald Trump was asked about failed Louisiana Gubernatorial candidate David Duke, who was able to garner 51% of the white vote.
TRUMP: I hate seeing what it represents, but I guess it just shows there’s a lot of hostility in this country. There’s a tremendous amount of hostility in the United States.
Mr. TRUMP: It’s anger. I mean, that’s an anger vote. People are angry about what’s happened. People are angry about the jobs. If you look at Louisiana, they’re really in deep trouble. When you talk about the East Coast — It’s not the East Coast. It’s the East Coast, the middle coast, the West Coast…
Let’s take a rewind to the narrative following the shock election in 2016. What was the one main issue that would plague the Democratic Party? Middle and working class white voters and their apparent lack of support for Hillary Clinton. The theme of the Primary fight between Senator Bernie Sanders (for interests of transparency, I worked on his New Hampshire Primary campaign) and Secretary Hillary Clinton were one side’s fight for the middle and working class, and one side’s fight for the corporate oligarchy. I don’t believe this theme to be entirely true; however it’s as close to summing up the primary fight as you can get. So Billionaire Donald Trump, who has been angling for a shot at running for the highest office in the country, sees this dividing line, the haves and the have-nots, and exploits their vulnerability for his personal gain, while also knowing that with reaching out to these supporters, he realizes that his base might include White Americans who yes, face deep economic challenges, but unfortunately harbor resentment towards African Americans who are seen to take advantage of Affirmative Action (not really), the expansion of LGBT rights, a renewed debate on feminism, and immigration.
In their minds, where does that leave them? Hillary Clinton in their minds seemed to be more concerned with “Diversity” and political status quo than about their concerns. I’m not saying these narratives are at all true. It amazes me that some White Americans think us Black people and other fill in the blank minorities, are awash with these blissful opportunities, wholly ignoring the fact that African Americans are disproportionately impoverished, face biases in the criminal justice system, and were racially targeted for decades in this country. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good story.
This might explain why Donald Trump has played “an odd game of footsie” with those who are racist. Heidi Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, stated in an interview with CNN that “Throughout the campaign he played an odd footsie with these people.” He did. This off again, on again yet consistent relationship with the fringes of his base. It explains why they were upset when Clinton called them a “basket of deplorables.” It’s because they are a basket of deplorables. But those deplorables were Trump’s bread and butter and engineered one of the biggest political upsets in the United States. Some of these people may be online white supremacist keyboard warriors, but they damn sure showed up to vote with their MAGA hats and other Trump merchandise.
Donald Trump has now found himself entangled in the world of the Alt-right and other White nationalists who praise him for anything they deem as support for the White community, and although President Trump did not begin White supremacy, he is their symbol of what it should be.