It has been more than a week since the conservative student organization Turning Point USA’s unintentionally ephemeral event, in which Donald Trump Junior was supposed to speak on his newly released book, banally titled Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us. The fact that he was de-platformed by far-right activists before he could apprise the audience of the intolerant left is risibly ironic indeed. But the deeper reasons for the disruption are quite serious. Here is a clip showing what happened:
It soon came to light that the activists were acolytes of up-and-coming white nationalist provocateur Nicholas Fuentes, who drooled over their actions in a live streamed video on his YouTube channel “America First.” This was just one of several events held by TPUSA at different universities that were crashed by Fuentes’ followers, who refer to themselves as “Groypers.” Their preferred method of “activism” is to hijack the Q and A sessions following discussion to spew thinly-veiled antisemitism, homophobia, and other vile beliefs.
Fuentes’ own publicly stated opinions serve as an odious model for his followers. Leaked video shows him deriding interracial sex as “degenerate” and lamenting how he is “absolutely” hurt in his daily life by Jews. He has spoken at white supremacist conferences, called a Daily Wire columnist a “shabbos goy race traitor” for condemning the racist El Paso Shooter, said “who cares?” in regards to Jim Crow laws and claimed that they made things “better in general,” and posited that the Dayton Shooter “could be Jewish.” This is just to name a few.
Yet he claims he’s not a white nationalist. As he explained in a mostly-cordial interview with self-described white nationalist Richard Spencer (the two disagree strongly on the role that Protestant Christianity should play in their desired white ethno-topia), it’s not because “he doesn’t see the necessity for white people to have a homeland,” but because the left has co-opted the term to “defame.” In other words, he exalts the exclusively white state part of white nationalism, he just doesn’t like how it sounds when the leftists say it.
Fuentes’ ideology is axiomatically incompatible with America’s founding vision of pluralistic democracy. But there are some chilling parallels to his ideas within America’s governing administration right now.
Buried in the impeachment hearing coverage last week was the discovery that White House Senior Policy Advisor and Trump’s immigration svengali Stephen Miller had a zealous interest in white nationalist publications. The Southern Poverty Law Center published a leak of emails Miller sent to former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh where he, for years, “shared stories from white nationalist news sources” with her. These stories covered emblematic white nationalist talking points including immigrant conspiracy theories, the racism-based “Immigration Act of 1924,” and “the connection between race and violent crime.”
In response to this treasure trove of leaks, a White House official condemned them as “attacks” on Miller, and “a clear form of anti-semitism.” Yes, the Trump Administration wants us to believe that the publication of proof that a Senior White House official enthusiastically supports an immigration policy that by design kept Jews out of America for decades, including during the Holocaust, is actually itself anti-semitism. This ignoble reversal of reality will enrage everyone besides Trump’s most credulous supporters, but it’s more-than-likely these are the only people he feels motivated to give reassurance to.
The only other White House response to the Miller revelation was to call into question the SPLC’s credibility as an organization. They point out its history of mendacious smears of public figures, specifically citing its baseless decision to list Quilliam Founder Maajid Nawaz as an “anti-Muslim extremist.”
Indeed, the SPLC makes several dubious extrapolations from the emails in their full report – Miller’s taste for the Immigration Act of 1924 being based on Hitlerian eugenics is a particularly reckless one. But the substance of this report – the emails themselves – unequivocally supports the claim that Miller has a strong affinity for white nationalism, and they can be viewed as being independent from the problematic history of the messenger.
Furthermore, no matter how much Trump apologists may attempt it, Miller’s ideology cannot be disconnected from the Trump Administration’s policies. There are multiple examples of instances where Congress and the White House were on the brink of breakthrough on immigration reform, only to be derailed by Stephen Millers protestations, often over DACA protections. The charitable interpretation of Miller’s stance during these disputes was that he was simply less willing to give any consolation to the other side of the political aisle because of a reasonable divergence in their perspectives on immigration. These emails serve as compelling evidence that Miller’s ideological differences were not reasonable at all.
As Stephen Miller’s boss, President Trump must at some level be culpable for his racist views. By leaving Miller at his post, Trump demonstrates, at the very least, an ambivalence towards Miller’s hateful ideology.
Similarly, Nicholas Fuentes’ ideology cannot be fully separated from Trumpism either. After his minions broke up the Trump Jr. event in LA, Fuentes made sure to clarify that he was still fully supportive of the Trump family, and that his dispute was only with TPUSA and other “fake conservatives” who he believes are subverting the Trump agenda. There has been no statement from anyone in the Trump Administration — or, strikingly, from Trump Jr — on Fuentes or his movement.
Fuentes was present at the Charlottesville rally, where white men with torches marched across the University of Virginia campus chanting “Jews will not replace us!” (He called the event “incredible”.). When President Trump responded initially to the rally, declaring that there were “good people on both sides,” was Fuentes among those good people? He isn’t a swastika-tattoo-brandishing skinhead like many who attended. Or, in other words, he isn’t among those who looked the part of the implicitly bad people. He still espouses the same racist beliefs, he just does it while sporting a tailored suit and being more fastidious with his pronouncements. Given Trump’s acceptance, and indeed his utilization, of this same sort of well-polished bigotry in the form of Stephen Miller, it is impossible to tell which category he would put Fuentes into, and that should scare us all.
Despite President Trump’s mealy-mouthed, isolated condemnations of racism, the overall stance he and his administration have taken on the growing issue of white nationalism has been one of reticence and indifference. This should not be acceptable for any elected official in America, let alone the one who occupies the highest office.
It is imperative that we avoid using loaded terms like “white supremacist,” “white nationalist,” “fascist,” and their derivatives too liberally. I’ve said as much in entire articles dedicated to arguing this exact point. But the question that begs answering in our current context is this: At what point does the Trump Administration’s failure to unequivocally and consistently condemn these hateful ideologies, and take strong steps to combat those who are sympathetic to and actuated by them, justify categorizing the Trump Administration as “white nationalist” by default?