“We have a wonderful opportunity here folks, that may never come again, at the right time. Donald Trump’s campaign statements, if nothing else, have shown that our views are not so unpopular as the Political Correctness crowd have told everyone they are.”
This isn’t all that uncommon a thing to hear right now. These same sort of statements are heard at Trump rallies, by him and his supporters on the news, and all over social media. What should make each and every person saying things like this uncomfortable is the source of this quote.
That quote is from Rocky Suhayda, Chairman of the American Nazi Party. Even more frightening: he isn’t the only white supremacist or neo-nazi saying these things. There are a whole load of genuine human garbage that see the Trump campaign as a source of inspiration and opportunity for spreading a message of race war, white superiority, and outright fascism.
There are two real threats here. First, that these organizations are growing their membership and base of support. You heard that right, Nazis in the US are a growing force. Second, that many of the ideas and policies that they encourage are finding their ways into the mainstream without all the swastikas and less-than-popular images of outright racism.
Honestly, these are both the same problem – the growth of extremist right wing organizations and the spread of white supremacist, authoritarian, and militaristic ideology to an ever-growing segment of the US population. This problem can be seriously dangerous at this moment, and shouldn’t just be dismissed just because the morons of the National Socialist Movement seem like, well, morons. Like syphilis, the white right can be eradicated early, but will drive you insane if left untreated.
Why does this growth of support for these fringe characters deserve attention and opposition? Because the current moment in US and world politics presents them with an unsettling degree of political opportunity.
Rising wealth inequality is making a huge body of people in the United States and across the globe fear for their future and the futures of their families and loved ones. At the same time, the US is going through some major demographic changes, with expanding non-white populations. Global economic dominance by the US is also on the decline. Post-civil rights movement, we’ve also seen some successes for some Black people in business, media, politics, etc.
In some of the more isolated and reactionary elements of the white population this has led to two major phenomena: resentment at their perceived decline in status and fear for their collective future in power. Of course, the absurdity here is that the basic structures of institutionalized racism have barely been touched and remain largely in place. You can see this in the lauded “14 words” of the white nationalist movement: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
This story of the victimized white race, and by extension the victimized United States that needs to be made “great” again is really just people afraid of losing the benefits, status, and power associated with generations of white supremacy. To many of the people that most believe this narrative, it justifies all manner of horrors: extreme authoritarianism, inhumane border controls, denying citizenship to immigrants, turning the instruments of “law and order” (police and military) into mythical creatures capable of no wrong, and imperialism to prevent the rise of other world powers. Sound familiar?
So how do these ideas go mainstream? It’s really not that hard in a nation with such a brutally racist history. Put out proposals that at their very core are based on racist perceptions of the world, but avoid the out-in-the-open racist jargon.
It’s not that Trump hates Mexicans, it’s just that he thinks we should build a wall between us and them to “protect our jobs.” It’s not that he hates people from the Middle East, but he thinks we should impose a temporary ban on Muslims “for our safety.” It’s not that he thinks Black people are criminals, just that we should take the racial profiling of Stop-and-Frisk nationwide for “law and order.” Nevermind that it’s rich whites who are actually hurting white workers. Nevermind that fear of terrorist refugees lacks any basis in reality. Nevermind that Stop-and-Frisk led to increased abuse and criminalization of Black youth in New York City and was declared unconstitutional.
All of this is based on years of propaganda put out by folks now calling themselves the Alt-Right to make these ideas seem less controversial. They’ve pushed for the development of campus White Student Unions and White Studies programs that actively work to discredit the very notion that institutional racism in the United States even exists despite its many measurable outcomes.
One of the gateway ideas in these circles has been the opposition to “politically correct culture”. In an effort to look cool to a younger audience, they flaunt their refusal to abide by new cultural standards of decency and respect that expect people to avoid sounding racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. These ass-hats aim to look cool in their edgy almost-racism and their bullshit assertions of masculinity. The millions they must have poured into PR-firms trying to figure out how to make being a conservative, entitled, young jackass look cool could probably end world hunger.
This trend isn’t only happening in the United States. In Europe, the far-right is growing as the absurdity of white fear and fragility spreads. The National Front in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, the Alternative for Germany, the UK Independence Party and more have been having electoral successes as their support grows.
In almost all of the cases in Europe, you see some of the same questions being asked. Is this party racist? Are they fascists? The questions are asked with some hesitation, in part because they’ve mostly made the same switch that Trump has made in the United States – they’ve brought out all the racist policy and dropped the most vicious and obvious racist propaganda.
What does the head of the National Socialist Movement in the US say about Trump, then? “[Trump] has ‘opened doors’ to our people… we can and should utilize the opportunity provided to recruit, educate and organize all of these White men and women.” He continues, “Look, all of these thousands of Trump supporters would never attend some silly “movement” event, much less join these costumed, ‘Hollywood Hate’ style operations – but, look there they are, out in public, embracing a huge chunk of our agenda, happy and proud to be counted right on the TV screen.”
So is Trump himself a white supremacist, raging-racist who can barely contain his heil-hitlers while on stage? Probably. But who fucking cares? Even if he doesn’t believe a word of what he says, he’s playing with racist-fire on top of a mountain of inequality-kindling soaked in the gasoline of generations of racism and hatred in the US. In the aftermath of Trump’s caught-on-tape Ode to Sexual Assault, it does seem increasingly unlikely that a President Trump is in our future.
Good. Then it’s really no big deal. At the end of the day the valiantly anti-racist, stalwart ally of the working class, and champion of world peace Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. Oh wait. In fact, there’s plenty to show Clinton and the ideology of the Democratic Party have helped get us where we are today, superpredators and all. Trump and white supremacists have this opportunity because of the Democratic Party’s many failures.
From the 90’s onward, she helped support the austerity that destroyed welfare and the social safety net. She supported the privatization of prisons along with laws that led to a very profitable and clearly racist mass incarceration problem. She had a George W. Bush-like fervor for regime change from Honduras to Libya. Before and after the collapse of the world economy, she’s retained close partnerships with Goldman Sachs and other architects of the inequality and stagnating livelihoods that so many of us are now fighting against. There are real reasons why the ruling class across the political spectrum are lining up behind Clinton in this election. She is likely to quietly safeguard the interests of exploitation and world dominance, while treating us to subtler flavor of white supremacy.
So what do we do to avoid the political rise of these assholes? There are a ton of answers, but those of us in Black Rose typically put forward two major lines of thinking.
We need to actively support the movements and demands of communities of color combating white supremacy and its on-the-ground consequences. That means standing alongside the Black Lives Matter movement, supporting the national movement of incarcerated workers going on strike against the prison system, and supporting immigrant and refugee movements. People of color and white people both need to fight in their communities to support and understand the demands of these groups.
We also need to develop a broader understanding of class and the common interest between communities of color and the white working class. When white working people don’t understand capitalism and class, it’s easy to reinforce a white supremacist position that the cause of their economic woes are immigrants and people receiving social services. But as they learn to identify the capitalist class that actually controls the economy as the cause of their problems, they’ll begin to understand the importance of standing alongside the masses of Black and Latino people being exploited and oppressed by those same forces.
At the end of the day, that’s the greatest tool we have against fascism, whether it’s out in the open or more discreet: an organized working class that stands against white supremacy and capitalism.