A new profile from the New York Times takes a disturbing look at how Trump’s bigotry-fueled campaign has “opened the door to assertions of white identity and resentment in a way not seen so broadly in American culture in over half a century.”
While refusing to disavow the support of David Duke or posting anti-Semetic memes would have immediately ended any other Presidential campaign, Trump has instead been emboldened by it, with one white nationalist interviewed by the Times stating that “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think.”
Key excerpts from the profile, “For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance,” are below. The full piece is available to read here:
The chant erupts in a college auditorium in Washington, as admirers of a conservative internet personality shout down a black protester. It echoes around the gym of a central Iowa high school, as white students taunt the Hispanic fans and players of a rival team. It is hollered by a lone motorcyclist, as he tears out of a Kansas gas station after an argument with a Hispanic man and his Muslim friend.
In countless collisions of color and creed, Donald J. Trump’s name evokes an easily understood message of racial hostility. Defying modern conventions of political civility and language, Mr. Trump has breached the boundaries that have long constrained Americans’ public discussion of race.
His rallies vibrate with grievances that might otherwise be expressed in private: about “political correctness,” about the ranch house down the street overcrowded with day laborers, and about who is really to blame for the death of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. In a country where the wealthiest and most influential citizens are still mostly white, Mr. Trump is voicing the bewilderment and anger of whites who do not feel at all powerful or privileged.
But in doing so, Mr. Trump has also opened the door to assertions of white identity and resentment in a way not seen so broadly in American culture in over half a century, according to those who track patterns of racial tension and antagonism in American life.
Dozens of interviews — with ardent Trump supporters and curious students, avowed white nationalists, and scholars who study the interplay of race and rhetoric — suggest that the passions aroused and channeled by Mr. Trump take many forms, from earnest if muddled rebellion to deeper and more elaborate bigotry.
On campuses clenched by unforgiving debates over language and inclusion, some students embrace Mr. Trump as a way of rebelling against the intricate rules surrounding privilege and microaggression, and provoking the keepers of those rules.
Among older whites unsettled by new Spanish-speaking neighbors, or suspicious of the faith claimed by their country’s most bitter enemies, his name is a call to arms.
“I think what we really find troubling is the mainstreaming of these really offensive ideas,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups. “It’s allowed some of the worst ideas into the public conversation in ways we haven’t seen anything like in recent memory.”
Trump has become a standard-bearer for the white nationalist and anti-immigrant movements since the launch of his campaign last summer — marked by the now-infamous, racist rant labeling immigrants from Mexico as criminals and “rapists” — with white nationalist websites reporting a 30-40% traffic spike since his candidacy:
In June 2015, two weeks after Mr. Trump entered the presidential race, he received an endorsement that would end most campaigns: The Daily Stormer embraced his candidacy.
Founded in 2013 by a 32-year-old neo-Nazi named Andrew Anglin, The Daily Stormer is among the most prominent online gathering places for white nationalists and anti-Semites, with sections devoted to “The Jewish Problem” and “Race War.” Mr. Anglin explained that although he had some disagreements with him, Mr. Trump was the only candidate willing to speak the truth about Mexicans.
“Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: It’s time to deport these people,” Mr. Anglin wrote. “He is also willing to call them out as criminal rapists, murderers and drug dealers.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign electrified the world of white nationalists. They had long been absent from mainstream politics, taking refuge at obscure conferences and in largely anonymous havens online. Most believed that the Republican Party had been subverted and captured by liberal racial dictums.
This year, for the first time in decades, overt white nationalism re-entered national politics. In Iowa, a new “super PAC” paid for pro-Trump robocalls featuring Jared Taylor, a self-described race realist, and William Johnson, a white nationalist and the chairman of the American Freedom Party. (“We don’t need Muslims,” Mr. Taylor urged recipients of the calls. “We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.”) David Duke, the Louisiana lawmaker turned anti-Semitic radio host, encouraged listeners to vote for Mr. Trump.
Emboldened by support from extremists, Trump’s campaign has taken to scouring memes and images originating from messages boards dedicated to promoting racist, neo-Nazi and white supremacy ideologies. A data mining company has “found that almost 30 percent of the accounts Mr. Trump retweeted in turn followed one or more of 50 popular self-identified white nationalist accounts”:
Mr. Trump dismisses those who accuse him of embracing or enabling racism. “I’m the least racist person,” he declared in December in an interview with CNN.
But on the flatlands of social media, the border between Mr. Trump and white supremacists easily blurs. He has retweeted supportive messages from racist or nationalist Twitter accounts to his nine million followers. Last fall, he retweeted a graphic with fictitious crime statistics claiming that 81 percent of white homicide victims in 2015 were killed by blacks. (No such statistic was available for 2015 at the time; the actual figure for 2014 was 15 percent, according to the F.B.I.)
In January and February he retweeted messages from a user with the handle @WhiteGenocideTM, whose profile picture is of George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. A couple of days later, in quick succession, he retweeted two more accounts featuring white nationalist or Nazi themes. Mr. Trump deleted one of the retweets, but white supremacists saw more than a twitch of the thumb. “Our Glorious Leader and ULTIMATE SAVIOR has gone full wink-wink-wink to his most aggressive supporters,” Mr. Anglin wrote on The Daily Stormer.
In fact, Mr. Trump’s Twitter presence is tightly interwoven with hordes of mostly anonymous accounts trafficking in racist and anti-Semitic attacks. When Little Bird, a social media data mining company, analyzed a week of Mr. Trump’s Twitter activity, it found that almost 30 percent of the accounts Mr. Trump retweeted in turn followed one or more of 50 popular self-identified white nationalist accounts.
At times, a circular current seems to flow between white nationalists and Mr. Trump on Twitter. Criticized for his recent message about Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump insisted that no allusion to Jews was intended and denounced reporters for drawing the connection. Mr. Trump’s social media director said in a statement that he had “lifted” the image from an anti-Clinton Twitter feed where “countless images appear.” Among them, it turned out, was a series of photos of Mrs. Clinton’s head arranged in the shape of a swastika.
The original image was later traced by Mic, an online magazine aimed at younger readers, to the politics section of 8chan, a message board ridden with anti-Semitic memes and racist images. There and on other message boards, such as 4chan and Reddit, Mr. Trump’s attacks on political correctness and illegal immigration resonate with a broader audience. Some claim membership in the “alt-right,” a loose and contested term that can encompass white nationalists, anti-immigration conservatives and anonymous trolls whose taunts are laced with GIFs and obscure internet slang.
Even more frightening are the racial hostilities expressed in person, particularly at Trump’s rallies. America’s Voice has tracked violence and racial harassment at the hands of Trump’s supporters across the nation here, with Trump doing nothing to stop his supporters. In fact, he’s encouraged them, saying he’d be more than happy to pay the legal bill of a supporter who sucker-punched a Black protester:
At a Trump rally last month in Richmond, Va., as at most Trump rallies, the audience was mostly white men. They strolled by police barricades in work boots or pressed khakis, grinning at a ragtag assortment of protesters nearby. In interviews, they complained about the Mexican flags brandished outside Trump events and wondered why the government was paying to fix up Section 8 houses for people with late-model iPhones. They recounted Hispanic co-workers mocking them.
“They’ll tell you straight to your face, ‘This is our country now — no more gringos!’” said Nick Conrad, a sheet metal worker who wore a “Hillary Clinton for Prison” T-shirt and wraparound sunglasses. “They’re not in it for our culture. They’re not here to assimilate.”
Mr. Conrad shrugged.
“He says what everyone thinks,” Mr. Conrad said of Mr. Trump. “He says what we’re all thinking. He’s bringing people together. We say, ‘Hey, that’s right; we can say this.’”