The comfort level that Trump-supporting members of the Republican party now have with right-wing extremists would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago.
Since Donald Trump took office, not only have domestic neo-fascist and racist organizations like the Proud Boys and the KKK been welcomed to become part of the Republican mainstream, but previously-shunned nationalists, extremists, and far-right-wing figures haunting the European political scene have become de facto allies of Trump and his supporters as they try to overturn the liberal policies of their EU homelands.
The close ties between the Trump administration and its congressional proxies were made quite clear by a recently deleted tweet posted by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands’ Party of Freedom, a nationalist right-wing populist party with a platform of Islamophobia that called for banning the Koran and shuttering all of Holland’s mosques.
Wilders has called for shutting down all immigration to the Netherlands from Islamic countries in a direct echo of Donald Trump’s original attempted ban on travel from Muslim nations that was halted by courts that ruled the ban as unconstitutional — besides being morally reprehensible and contrary to American values.
So it comes as not much of a surprise that close-Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was caught on camera laughing and smiling for a photo with Wilders while attending the 2019 Ambrosetti Forum in Cernobbio, Italy near Lake Como. According to Wikipedia, the Forum is hosted by an Italian consulting firm and presents forecasts of the economic and geopolitical outlooks for the world, Europe and Italy. The forum also analyzes the main scientific and technological developments and their impacts on the future of business and society. The invited participants typically include business leaders from major Italian and international corporations, as well as international politicians.
Graham’s decision to take a photo with the controversial racist politician is again something that would have been unthinkable in a pre-Trump world where figures like Wilders were shunned by mainstream political figures out of fear of lending his viewpoints legitimacy. Yet, with essentially the same vile viewpoint now being tweeted out daily from the White House, the stigma behind associating with the Dutch neo-fascist seems to have dissolved.
Still, someone was uncomfortable with the implications of the photo of the pair of like-minded politicians happily posing for the camera, since the tweet was soon deleted from Wilders account after appearing briefly in his Twitter feed. Luckily, John Hudson, a diplomacy and national security correspondent for The Washington Post, managed to grab a screen capture of the photo before it disappeared from the social media site.
The Geert Wilders account has since deleted his photo with Lindsey Graham, but I had the tab still open on my browser so here it is: pic.twitter.com/WTQrTuHgZW
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) September 7, 2019
Sorry, Senator Graham, but the internet never forgets. Whether it was the brown-nosing South Carolina Senator who had a bout of remorse and asked for the photo to be taken down, or it was the Dutch extremist leader who was embarrassed to be associated with Trump’s toady is still unclear, but either way, those smiling faces demonstrate the close bond of their ideologies, a closeness that should frighten Americans and bring shame upon Senator Graham.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.