How Trump fuels the fascist right

By | December 2, 2018

Bernard E. Harcourt writes:

President Trump makes constant use of the language and logic of the “new right,” a toxic blend of antebellum white supremacy, twentieth-century fascism, European far-right movements of the 1970s, and today’s self-identified “alt-right.” And his words and deeds have empowered and enabled an upsurge of white nationalists and extremist organizations—from Atomwaffen to the Proud Boys to the Rise Above Movement—that threatens to push the country into violent social conflict. Amplified by social media, this new right rhetoric is inciting unstable men to violence through pipe-bomb mailings and temple shootings. It is crucial for the American people to identify and oppose this radicalization, in order to steer the country back to a steadier path.

Everything about Trump’s discourse—the words he uses, the things he is willing to say, when he says them, where, how, how many times—is deliberate and intended for consumption by the new right. When Trump repeatedly accuses a reporter of “racism” for questioning him about his embrace of the term “nationalist,” he is deliberately drawing from the toxic well of white supremacist discourse and directly addressing that base. Trump’s increasing use of the term “globalist” in interviews and press conferences—including to describe Jewish advisers such as Gary Cohn or Republican opponents like the Koch brothers—is a knowing use of an anti-Semitic slur, in the words of the Anti-Defamation League, “a code word for Jews.” Trump’s self-identification as a “nationalist,” especially in contrast to “globalists” like George Soros, extends a hand to white nationalists across the country. His pointed use of the term “politically correct,” especially in the context of the Muslim ban, speaks directly to followers of far-right figures such as William Lind, author of “What is ‘Political Correctness’?

Trump is methodically engaging in verbal assaults that throw fuel on his political program of closed borders, nativism, social exclusion, and punitive excess. Even his cultivated silences and failures to condemn right-wing violence, in the fatal aftermath of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, for instance, or regarding the pipe-bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc, communicate directly to extremists. We are watching, in real time, a new right discourse come to define the American presidency. [Continue reading…]

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