Ever since the start of his campaign, now President-elect Donald Trump’s “braggadocious” and provocative rhetoric has empowered white power movements. Perhaps Trump himself is not a racist, sexist, or a bigot, but his campaign and his messages have resonated and legitimized white power or “alt-right” movements.
It first started with David Duke’s endorsement of Trump for president. Duke, is a white nationalist, and was the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who now claims that he is running to “defend the rights of European Americans.” But Duke’s beliefs and rhetoric indicate more than that.
He argued that his message lined up perfectly with Trump’s and that he was proud that his beliefs were being brought to the forefront. Duke, who is a holocaust denier and segregationist, said to white supports “voting against Donald Trump at this point, is really treason to your heritage.”
Although this is a higher-level endorsement, Trump and Duke’s uncannily similar rhetoric has affected their supporters. After Trump’s win, two Pennsylvania high school students paraded with Trump signs yelling “white power.” But this pattern existed far before Trump’s win.
Even from his rise to power in the Republican primaries, prejudiced white citizens have felt empowered. John McGraw, a supporter of Trump, punched a 26-year-old African-American protester while being encouraged by fellow Trump supporters. McGraw and the crowd hurled racial slurs at the protestor and said, “the next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
The KKK’s official newspaper then endorsed Trump on November 2nd, just days before the election and cited their shared values. They claim that a “white genocide” will occur and that Trump will re-empower their status back to putting white citizens of European American origin into power.
These claims seemed to have worked. On December 2nd, 2016, less than a month after the election there have been 867 reported hate-attacks alone. Even white students in high schools have begun to chant “build that wall” on Youtube videos, vandalism says “Take America back,” and some have made statements such as: “Can’t wait for Trump to deport you or I will deport you myself,” and the stories do not end.
The National Policy Institute, a “pro-European perspective” group, said “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory,” while giving the Nazi Salute. Even though Trump denounced the group in his New York Times interview saying, “I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn,” it still shows how much power Trump and his campaign has given these groups to the point where they can confidently hold these sort of public gatherings and speak proudly about their beliefs in white supremacy.
While Trump’s message may have provided an outlet for these claimed fears of European-Americans (as prophesied by David Duke), there have been clear indications of white assailants attacking immigrants and people of color, unprovoked.
Trump’s victory did show however, the power of racism in America and the incredible, untapped fear that Americans have, which allowed them to be swayed in the election. Trump’s disregard for the rights of immigrants and minorities while claiming to be a “President for all Americans” is just as bad as endorsing white supremacists them-selves.
Earlier in the year, Trump argued in favor of stop and frisk, where New York City police officers could stop and frisk individuals, fully aware that it was deemed unconstitutional because it clearly discriminated against black and Latino residents.
Now that Trump has won, some moderates who voted for him expected that he would rescind some of his policies. Although he has claimed to lay off of Obamacare among other things, Trump has not overtly spoken against the backlash faced by minorities and his cabinet choices have indicated otherwise.
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama was nominated to serve as attorney general, which would allow him to enforce Trump’s radical immigration ideas and reducing government oversight of the police. Although Sessions failed to be confirmed by the Senate before, anything is possible at this point.
Sessions was an ideal choice for Trump because he endorsed him immediately and agreed with Trump’s immigration policies. In fact, Sessions was denied confirmation by the Senate because he appeared to sympathize with the KKK when he called the ACLU and NAACP “un-American” groups that were “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.” Sessions even said that the KKK were “Okay” until he found out they were “pot smokers.”
Trump also nominated Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist. David Duke also endorsed Bannon and strongly approved the choice. Bannon has been accused of being anti-semitic by his ex-wife, he is a white nationalist that wants to maintain political and economic superiority over minorities and supports racially discriminatory policies, and his articles have racist, sexists, and bigoted flavors. Bannon has also called for an “ethnic cleansing” in the past.
Trump’s latest choice General John F. Kelly for the head of the Department of Homeland Security shares similar anti-immigration, anti-bureaucracy, and anti-Middle eastern views. This position of power will allow him to act on Trump’s strict immigration rules and will give Trump another aide who supports his more unconventional beliefs.