To no one’s surprise, America’s most popular neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, has officially announced its support for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Predictably, the endorsement praised the numerous racist statements in Trump’s announcement video, especially his “willingness to call [Mexicans] out as criminal rapists, murderers, and drug dealers.”
The typical xenophobic right-wing jargon about China and Mexico “stealing our jobs” also features prominently in the endorsement, as Trump has emphasized this theme heavily. In reality, of course, immigrants have lower rates of crime and drug-use than native-born whites and any “job-stealing” at the hands of China, Mexico, or elsewhere is merely the result of the free-market capitalist competition that conservatives supposedly support.
Of course, neo-Nazis do not really see reality and it’s clear that Trump – who has repeatedly proved himself an ignorant, narcissistic, racist – inhabits his own self-centered universe as well. Little surprise, then, that the Daily Stormer considers Trump to be the “only candidate talking about real issues.”
Far from being an isolated incident, the Daily Stormer’s endorsement is only the latest in a long list of neo-Nazi support for Trump’s campaign. Craig Cobb, a leading white supremacist, has thrown his support behind Trump and has even gone as far as to propose naming his “Aryan enclave” in Trump’s “honor.” Jared Taylor, the editor of a prominent white supremacist magazine, told the New Yorker, “I’m sure [Trump] would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”
While this statement could apply to nearly any Republican politician, it is particularly relevant for Trump, whose over-the-top and intentionally offensive comments have attracted the most dangerous elements of the right, many of whom openly harbor racist tendencies – as opposed to the majority of conservatives, who prefer to deny their racism. And, indeed, the white supremacist support for Trump is clearly not limited to a few lunatics with neo-Nazi bogs but rather has infested a significant portion of his base, as was clearly demonstrated when shouts of “White Power!” broke out in the audience of a Trump rally in Alabama in June.
When Trump’s response to one of the most important civil rights issues of the day – the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and racism – has been to threaten to beat up black protesters and say that “power and strength” needs to be “given back to the police” it is little surprise that white supremacists have been drawn to his campaign. When asked about the protests and racial violence following the terrorist attack in Charleston earlier this summer, Trump responded “there’s no such thing as racism anymore. We’ve had a black president so it’s not a question anymore. Are they saying that black lives should matter more than white lives or Asian lives? If black lives matter, then go back to Africa. We’ll see how much they matter there.”
Besides using the cognitive reasoning of a kindergartner, such aggressively racist rhetoric is essentially indistinguishable from that of the most extreme right-wingers and thus has, unsurprisingly, attracted them to his campaign. The fact that the front-runner for President of the United States in the year 2015 says things like this is honestly frightening and disgusting. Yet to far too many people in this country, Trump is “what we need.”
As Taylor said, Trump would undoubtedly absolve himself of any connection to neo-Nazis, but given his backwards racist rhetoric it is selfish and dangerous for him to deny his influence on right-wing extremists and incredibly stupid to not see the connection. In his 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal,” Trump described his strategy this way: “I play to people’s fantasies. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration – and a very effective form of promotion.”
While his presidential campaign has certainly proven the effectiveness of this tactic by playing on the often hidden racism inherent in conservatism, Trump must realize that when his “truthful hyperboles” are racist and bigoted, the fantasies he is playing to are those of the extreme right, and far from being innocent exaggerations, these lies have very real effects on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who are living with the daily effects of racism and other prejudices in this country.
While the Republican Party in general is always quick to wash its hands of connections to the racist right, the party must seriously ask itself what about its policies and rhetoric attracts racists and bigots almost exclusively to its party. And the answer, which is tragically clear, is the rhetoric of people like the Donald.