Sam Courtney-Guy, The World Weekly, August 10, 2017
Donald Trump’s presidency is fast turning into a defining moment in the history of the white nationalist movement – just not in the way that it might have hoped. Clues in the president’s language and behaviour led the alt-right to hope that he might really be one of them, and critics to accuse him of inciting racial hatred. But beyond the so-called ‘Muslim Ban’, Mr. Trump’s promise to rip up the immigration regime has remained just that, leaving white nationalists in a limbo between mainstream political representation and their old trench on the fringes of right-wing politics.
White nationalists increasingly see President Trump as a friend by convenience. Alt-right darling Richard Spencer, for example, greeted his victory with an exuberant “Hail Trump”. Now he briefs his followers with more scepticism than Fox News, as months of stalling on ‘America First’ policies roll on.
Jared Taylor, founder and editor of American Renaissance (which describes itself as “the Internet’s premier race-realist site”), says the alt-right’s loyalty will stretch only as far as the president manages to stop “discrimination against whites” and “slow the reduction of whites to a minority”.
Mr. Trump’s flagship campaign promises were music to the ears of self-described “white advocates”, whose numbers swelled under Barack Obama, even if many were quick to suss out the new president’s opportunist streak.
“Mr. Trump is clearly not a racial nationalist,” Mr. Taylor told The World Weekly, “but all these measures would have slowed the dispossession of whites.”
However frustrating the lack of progress, though, the alt-right is still managing to stand behind him. “He has not kept any of these promises – yet – but he is much better than Hillary Clinton would have been,” argues Mr. Taylor. “Despite his waffling on his signature measures, his mere presence in the White House has discouraged illegal immigration and dissuaded some illegals already here from using welfare programmes.”
This narrative – President Trump versus The Swamp – is changing the face of white nationalism, and the role it sees for itself. The alt-right, once known as the youthful Internet-based wing of hard-right politics, is quickly expanding its physical presence. Adherents want to defend their newfound foothold in mainstream political life and to see Project Trump through to completion.
Every new far-right gathering and every rally staged in support of Trump sets the stage for another clash between those hardline alt-rightists and organised squadrons from leftist groups like Antifa. Both sides have been reported to avow violent intentions before turning up to demonstrations, and both have had members arrested for acts of violence.
Neither side is talking to each other.
Some fear that the entry of white nationalist ideas into the mainstream will lead to more severe violence elsewhere. For example, former intelligence figures worry that the Trump administration’s attempts to reconfigure the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism programme around radical Islamism might allow right-wing extremists to go unchecked.
The ‘Unite the Right’ gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12 will see what some are touting to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in decades. Counter-protests are planned and another cycle of violence, followed by a total lack of dialogue, seems almost inevitable.