Jason Wilson, Guardian, August 26, 2016
Jared Taylor was prominently featured in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad released ahead of her speech denouncing the “alt-right” in Reno on Thursday and “appreciates” the Democratic presidential nominee for “calling attention to the message I have for America”.
The self-described “race realist” is unrepentant in embracing the label and expounding his views. He founded the alt-right American Renaissance website 25 years ago, which started as a print monthly to emphasize race as society’s most “prominent and divisive” fault line, and that mainstream politics and media tries to “gloss over” the issue.
Clinton has attacked Trump’s associations with the alt-right, describing it as a “a fringe element that has taken over the Republican party”.
Taylor said her speech was “a typical lefty campaign ploy”, and maintained Trump is not a part of the movement. “Is Hillary Clinton responsible for the views of everyone who supports her?” he asked.
Asked to define what the diffuse alt-right stands for, Taylor said there were “areas of disagreement”, but that “the central element of the alt-right is the position it takes on race.”
That position, until recently, would have been clearly beyond the pale of presidential politics, and rejected by liberals and mainstream conservatives alike. Now, Taylor sees an opportunity to further proselytise his views. He does not think Trump is solely responsible for the alleged growth of the alt-right. But, “it is encouraging because here we have a candidate for president who is saying some things that we have been saying for years”.
Principally, their common ground with Trump is on immigration policy–deportations, the repeal of birthright citizenship and Trump raising the “question of why we need more Muslims in this country”.
For Taylor, and other members of the alt-right, race is an inescapable biological fact, which has consequences. “The races are not equal and equivalent. If a nation changes demographically, its society will change,” he said.
In her speech, Clinton cited the US Olympic team as an example of strength in diversity. Taylor uses it as an example of the different capacities and abilities of races. He argues that while black people are good athletes, whites and Asians have higher IQs, offering a form of the “scientific racism” that was widely discredited, and denounced by the UN after the second world war.
“Races are different. Some races are better at some things than others”, he said.
Taylor also sees the racial separatism he strives for as a matter of “freedom of association”, and denies that the alt-right is a hate movement, as Clinton has claimed.
“If a white person says, ‘I like being white, and I prefer my associates to be white’, that’s hate? Why?” he said. “It should not be taboo to talk about these things.”
Political scientist George Hawley, who authored a book on the crisis of mainstream conservatism in the face of the challenge of the far right, said that until recently, mainstream conservatives were partly responsible for enforcing whatever taboos existed on this kind of open racial language and thinking.
“The mainstream conservative movement has never wanted any kind of formal relationship with Taylor or his organisation. In fact, an association with American Renaissance could be damaging to a conservative’s career.”
This enmity is mutual. Taylor said: “Mainstream conservatives have completely conceded the question of race, at the cost of their own political fortunes.”
Taylor has been a presence on the racially motivated fringes of the right for more than a quarter of a century, following the founding of his New Century Foundation in 1990, and American Renaissance in 1991. In articles–many written by Taylor–at events and in podcasts, the website stresses white people are discriminated against, black people are inclined to crime and mainstream conservatives who deny these assertions this are culpable and headed for disaster.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Taylor’s career has involved lending a “pseudo-academic polish” to racial thought. He presents as urbane: he is a trilingual Yale graduate, and his work has mainly involved producing “research” that backs up his positions on race.
His influence can be seen in the alt-right Twitter accounts that brandish IQ tables and selective crime statistics to bolster their arguments on race.
He has not only adopted the alt-right tag, first coined by white nationalist Richard Spencer, but also their online methods. In addition to the website, he is active on Twitter, and acts as a moderator on alt-right subreddits.
Chip Berlet, a veteran researcher of the far right, finds the mainstreaming of Taylor’s views concerning, even if Trump loses the election.
“The problem is not that they will take state power, because they almost never do. The problem is that in the course of this social movement, in action and propaganda, they target scapegoated groups of people who become victims of violence,” said Berlet.
While the Republican presidential nominee has apparently softened his stance on immigration as of this week, Taylor said, “Mr Trump speaks in elliptical phrases that sometimes make it hard to pin him down. At this point all talk about ‘softening’ seems to be speculation. I will wait until he gives that postponed speech on immigration policy.”
Berlet, too, is unconvinced and called it an insincere pivot to recover lost ground. But even if it were, it could not remedy Trump’s actions in helping bring figures like Taylor to prominence.
“He can’t undo the damage he’s done. The antagonisms he’s bred will be longstanding, and will be apparent well beyond the election,” said Berlet.