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As we’ve noted, the real power in the Trump administration lies with officials bearing extreme nativist world views, including ties to the anti-immigrant and white nationalist movements. As conservative columnist David Brooks characterized: “[T]he Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration.”
Every day seems to add additional, and disturbing, examples that drive this point home. The latest example is the Trump Administration’s decision to stop including white supremacists and white nationalists in a DHS program designed to counter violent threats and ideologies. As Reuters reports:
“The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The program, ‘Countering Violent Extremism,’ or CVE, would be changed to ‘Countering Islamic Extremism’ or ‘Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,’ the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.”
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “We haven’t ended violence carried out by Americans following white nationalist, anti-Semitic, and racist ideologies. But the Trump Administration doesn’t seem to care – or maybe they simply want to protect their allies. This development is just another terrifying example of how the Trump Administration is being reckless with public safety.”
In context with the views and ties of the nativist allies in Trump’s orbit, perhaps the news should not be entirely surprising.
Senator and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, whom the Washington Post labeledthe “intellectual godfather of the president’s policies,” is also the favorite Senator for followers of white nationalists on Twitter, per a new analysis.
Stephen Miller, the former Sessions staffer who wrote the immigration and refugee and Muslim ban executive orders, is not only close with Sen. Sessions, but also someone for whom white nationalist Richard Spencer served as a “mentor” while the two overlapped at Duke University. As Spencer said of his relationship with Miller, “I spent a lot of time with him at Duke… I hope I expanded his thinking.”
And Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive and newly-implanted member of the National Security Council, has consolidated power in such a brazen fashion that The New York Times editorial board noted, “Mr. Bannon is positioning himself not merely as a Svengali but as the de facto president,” and Time magazine asked if he was, “the second most powerful man in the world” – a terrifying prospect given his views. Assessing the rabid and racially-driven fear-mongering on display when Bannon helmed Breitbart, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) called Bannon the “main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.”
As the Los Angeles Times recently reported, “Trump’s top advisors on immigration, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller, see themselves as launching a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country and to block a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society.”
Yet these same advisors seem unconcerned with better understanding the hateful ideology that has driven white men such as Dylann Roof and Robert Dear to commit their heinous acts. And despite frequently commenting in the aftermath of incidents of terrorism, President Trump remained silent about the recent shootings at a Quebec City mosquecommitted by a white French-Canadian man with far-right political views. One can only imagine what Trump would have said if such a mass killing had been carried out by a Muslim rather than against Muslims.