White extremists turn to a leader to protect Western values: Vladimir Putin

putin

The New York Times reports: As the founder of the Traditionalist Worker Party, an American group that aims to preserve the privileged place of whiteness in Western civilization and fight “anti-Christian degeneracy,” Matthew Heimbach knows whom he envisions as the ideal ruler: the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.

“Russia is our biggest inspiration,” Mr. Heimbach said. “I see President Putin as the leader of the free world.”

Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump mystified many on the left and in the foreign policy establishment with his praise for Mr. Putin and his criticism of the Obama administration’s efforts to isolate and punish Russia for its actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. But what seemed inexplicable when Mr. Trump first expressed his admiration for the Russian leader seems, in retrospect, to have been a shrewd dog whistle to a small but highly motivated part of his base.

For Mr. Heimbach is far from alone in his esteem for Mr. Putin. Throughout the collection of white ethnocentrists, nationalists, populists and neo-Nazis that has taken root on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. Putin is widely revered as a kind of white knight: a symbol of strength, racial purity and traditional Christian values in a world under threat from Islam, immigrants and rootless cosmopolitan elites. [Continue reading…]

Reuters reports: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is a clever man and will quickly understand his new responsibilities, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with NTV TV.

Putin has spoken previously of his hope that Trump will help restore U.S.-Russia relations, and analysts said he was unlikely to want to dial up anti-Western rhetoric before Trump’s inauguration in January.

“Trump was an entrepreneur and a businessman. He is already a statesman, he is the head of the United States of America, one of the world’s leading countries,” NTV quoted Putin as saying in the interview on www.ntv.ru on Sunday.

“Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man. And if (he is) a clever man, then he will fully and quite quickly understand another level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting from these positions,” Putin said. [Continue reading…]

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Combative, populist Steve Bannon found his man in Donald Trump

The New York Times reports: When Julia Jones arrived at her office in Santa Monica at 8 a.m. — by Hollywood screenwriter standards, the crack of dawn — she found Stephen K. Bannon already at his desk, which was cluttered with takeout coffees. They were co-writers on a Ronald Reagan documentary, but Mr. Bannon had pretty much taken it over. He had been at work for hours, he told her, writing feverishly about his political hero.

Today, with Donald J. Trump, whose election Mr. Bannon helped engineer, on the threshold of power, the 2004 film “In the Face of Evil” has a prophetic ring. Its trailer has an over-the-top, apocalyptic feel: lurid footage of bombs dropping on cities alternating with grainy clips of Reagan speeches, as a choir provides a soaring soundtrack. The message: Only one man was up to the challenge posed by looming domestic and global threats.

“A man with a vision,” the trailer says. “An outsider, a radical with extreme views.”

The Reagan presidency has been a recurring touchstone for Mr. Bannon since 1980, when as a 26-year-old Navy officer he talked his way into Mr. Reagan’s election night celebration. It was at an early screening of “In the Face of Evil” that he met fellow Reagan admirer Andrew Breitbart, the budding conservative media provocateur.

Breitbart.com’s scorn for Muslims, immigrants and black activists drew a fervent following on the alt-right, an extremist fringe of message boards and online magazines popular with white supremacists, and after Mr. Bannon took control of the website in 2012, he built a raucous coalition of the discontented.

More quietly, Mr. Bannon systematically courted a series of politicians, especially those who share his dark, populist worldview: at home, a corrupt ruling class preying on working Americans; globally, “the Judeo-Christian West” in a “war against Islamic fascism.” They were views that placed him closer to the European right than to the Republican mainstream. [Continue reading…]

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Ben Shapiro on how the alt-right will take advantage of its newfound prominence

In an interview with Slate, former Breitbart editor-at-large, Ben Shapiro, says: What the alt-right is trying to do, and what they’ve been trying to do now ever since Donald Trump came to prominence, is a couple of things. One is they’ve been broadening the definition of alt-right; I just wrote this piece for National Review for the print edition this week. They’ve been trying to broaden the definition of alt-right so they can suck people into believing they’re alt-right even though they don’t believe the central tenets of the alt-right. So they’ll say things like, “Well if you just don’t like Paul Ryan, that means you’re alt-right,” or “If you just like memes, that means that you’re alt-right,” or “If you think that the Republicans are too weak-kneed, that means you’re alt-right.” No, that doesn’t mean that you’re alt-right; it means that you’re not an establishment Republican. I’m not a big Paul Ryan fan, per se, but that doesn’t make me alt-right. I’m their No. 1 target, according to the Anti-Defamation League, this year.

So they’ve tried to broaden the definition so they can suck people into believing they’re alt-right, and then make themselves seem indispensable by saying, “Look at all these alt-right people. They’re all out here, and if the Republican Party pushes them to the side, then they’re going to pay an electoral price for that.” And then you have people winking and nodding at them because they think they’re an important constituency. So it’s a couple-step process, and glomming onto Trump has been part of that because Trump, I don’t think, is alt-right. I don’t think that Trump is particularly racist. I think he’s an ignoramus. I think that more than anything, Trump is willing to pay heed to and wink at anybody who provides him even a shred of good coverage. So if the alt-right, which worships at the altar of Trump — if they provide him good coverage, he’s willing to wink and nod at them and not wreck them.

How much does Steve Bannon subscribe to those notions of European centrism? At what point will he stop?

I think that Steve will stop if it becomes politically convenient for him to stop. Steve is not a deeply principled guy on politics; it’s not like he’s coming in with this ramrod agenda. He’s coming in and he’s talking about big government spending. He’s talking about trillion-dollar infrastructure packages. If you had to peg Steve down on ideology or philosophy, you’d say he’s sort of like a European far-right leader. He’s more like Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage than he is like a constitutional conservative. He doesn’t like constitutional conservatism; he thinks that it’s an obstacle in the way of building this new Third Way movement, this independent political movement that is focused on heavy spending—even some redistribution inside the country—but closed borders and tariffs for everybody outside. He calls himself an economic nationalist. They say, “Are you a white nationalist?” and he says, “No, I’m an economic nationalist.” And then when he’s asked about white nationalism and its effect on the far-right in Europe, he says that will sort of fade away as time goes on, and they’ll legitimize. I don’t think so. I’ve never seen a bad movement or a bad person, yet, given power and they become better people.

So you think that Bannon is using the alt-right to get his agenda passed? But do you think that the alt-right thinks it’s using Bannon to get its agenda through?

Yes, and they’ll say it openly — they’ll say, “Bannon isn’t one of us. Breitbart isn’t us. Trump isn’t one of us. But they’re the most useful tool we’ve ever found.”

And they’re not doing that just to distract attention to the media? They really don’t think that Trump is one of them, but he’s a useful idiot?

I think that’s right. I don’t think that they sit around thinking Donald Trump reads Jared Taylor. I mean, I don’t think they think Donald Trump reads books, right? They think that Donald Trump has positions. Those positions are sufficiently warm toward their positions. He’s not throwing them out of the tent. And because he won’t throw them out of the tent, that makes him their best ally. [Continue reading…]

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The seeds of the alt-right, America’s emergent right-wing populist movement

George Michael, Westfield State University

In recent months, far-right activists – which some have labeled the “alt-right” – have gone from being an obscure, largely online subculture to a player at the very center of American politics.

Long relegated to the cultural and political fringe, alt-right activists were among the most enthusiastic supporters of Donald Trump. Earlier this year, Breitbart.com executive Steve Bannon had declared the website “the platform for the alt-right.” By August, Bannon was appointed the CEO of the Trump campaign. In the wake of Trump’s victory, he’ll be joining Trump in the White House as a senior advisor.

I’ve spent years extensively researching the American far right, and the movement seems more energized than ever. To its critics, the alt-right is just a code term for white nationalism, a much-maligned ideology associated with neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The movement, however, is more nuanced, encompassing a much broader spectrum of right-wing activists and intellectuals.

How did the movement gain traction in recent years? And now that Trump has won, could the alt-right change the American political landscape?

[Read more…]

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Trump’s disavowal of the alt-right movement is meaningless

CNN reports: Donald Trump has never been one to shy away from speaking — or more accurately, tweeting — his mind.

But critics say it took him too long to publicly disavow a shockingly racist speech Saturday by a white nationalist leader whose rallying cry mirrored Adolf Hitler’s.

“Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory,” Richard Spencer shouted from the podium of the annual convention for his think-tank called The National Policy Institute. Spencer calls himself the founder of the “alt-right” movement, a label that’s been applied to far-right extremists advocating for white nationalism.

The scene, taking place less than a mile from the White House, was reminiscent of Nazi-era Germany, with several members of the audience cheering with the straight-arm Hitler salute.

At times speaking in German, Spencer’s 30-minute speech included the unmistakable marriage of Neo-Nazi hate and Trump’s campaign slogan.

“It is only normal again when we are great again,” Spencer said.

A Trump transition spokesman released a short media statement Monday evening, but it took Trump until Tuesday to publicly disavow the group in his own words. And it came only when pressed in a meeting with New York Times reporters, editors and executives,
Of course I disavow and condemn them,” Trump said when asked about the group.

But Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League, says Trump needed to do it sooner.

“There seems to be a pattern in the Trump administration of waiting until the last moment. And we just don’t have the luxury for that. When there are Nazi salutes in D.C., it’s important to condemn it at the moment,” Segal said. [Continue reading…]

Let’s wind the clock back and imagine that Trump had condemned and disavowed Spencer and the alt-right movement within the first few hours of the Washington video going viral — the swiftness of his statement would still have meant nothing more than a growing awareness that he needed to distance himself from a long-standing and increasingly toxic relationship.

If Trump really had a problem with alt right, he wouldn’t have chosen Steve Bannon as his chief strategist and closest adviser.

Neither of them can now credibly distance themselves from ties they have long nurtured.

If Bannon actually had a problem with the movement, he wouldn’t have anointed his publication, Breitbart News, as “platform for the alt-right.”

At his meeting with staff at the New York Times yesterday, Trump said of Bannon: “If I thought he was a racist, or alt-right, or any of the things that we can, you know, the terms we can use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him.”

No one in the room had the guts to vigorously challenge him even though Bannon’s ties to alt-right have long been explicit and unambiguous — as Sarah Posner reported in August:

“We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July. Though disavowed by every other major conservative news outlet, the alt-right has been Bannon’s target audience ever since he took over Breitbart News from its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, four years ago. Under Bannon’s leadership, the site has plunged into the fever swamps of conservatism, cheering white nationalist groups as an “eclectic mix of renegades,” accusing President Barack Obama of importing “more hating Muslims,” and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of “political correctness.”

“Andrew Breitbart despised racism. Truly despised it,” former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wrote last week on the Daily Wire, a conservative website. “With Bannon embracing Trump, all that changed. Now Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [technology editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”

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How Trump became troll in chief for the alt-right movement

Mother Jones reports: Jeff Blehar had no idea he was about to become a conduit for a virulent political awakening. It was July 2015, and the conservative writer and outspoken critic of freshly minted presidential candidate Donald Trump was being pummeled on Twitter with a profane-sounding political dis: “cuckservative.” The term, which had recently begun appearing on fringe internet forums, was meant to denigrate mainstream Republicans as impotent traitors, in part by evoking a genre of porn that features white men watching their wives have sex with black men.

“I want to congratulate [the] guy who keeps calling me a ‘cuckservative’—you win, dude,” Blehar tweeted sarcastically. “You’re right, and I’m deleting my account out of shame.”

Conservative pundit and Trump critic Erick Erickson soon weighed in, tweeting that he had read about cuckservatism in the white nationalist Radix Journal. Now it was game on for the trolls. A user named “dindu refugee” called Erickson “a cuckservative if I’ve ever seen one.” Paul Kersey, creator of the racist blog Stuff That Black People Don’t Like, taunted Erickson about previously living in Macon, Georgia: “Now it’s a black hellhole which you won’t dare mention. #Cuckservative.”

Explainers soon appeared in The New Republic, BuzzFeed, and the Washington Post, ushering the insult into the broader political lexicon. National Review’s David French complained of being brutally trolled with “cuckservative” taunts for having adopted a child from Ethiopia. Glenn Beck lamented, “It is everywhere now.”

The attacks may have seemed like just a fleeting, perverse twist on RINO (“Republican in name only”), but in fact they were something far more ominous — the stirrings of a loosely knit extremist movement soon more widely known as the “alt-right.” Thanks to Trump’s demagogic campaign—throughout which he would circulate bigoted memes to his millions of Twitter followers — the alt-right now had an opportunity to inject racism, misogyny, and xenophobia into mainstream American politics. Provocative but obscure online rhetoric was quickly morphing into something more serious and powerful: the normalization of the politics of hate.

It never would have happened without Trump acting as troll in chief. Already admired by extremists for his ongoing birther crusade against President Barack Obama, Trump riveted their attention when he announced his White House run and vowed to build a border wall to keep out Mexican criminals and “rapists.” That soon earned him praise from a who’s who of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and militia supporters. [Continue reading…]

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There’s no better term for the alt-right than alt-right

Osita Nwanevu writes: Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of this past weekend’s widely covered meeting of Richard Spencer’s white supremacist National Policy Institute, ThinkProgress published an editor’s note telling readers the site will no longer use the descriptor alt-right:

You might wonder what, if anything, distinguishes the alt-right from more hidebound racist movements such as the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan. The answer is very little, except for a bit of savvy branding and a fondness for ironic Twitter memes. Spencer and his ilk are essentially standard-issue white supremacists who discovered a clever way to make themselves appear more innocuous — — even a little hip.

The note goes on to say that ThinkProgress will use the terms white supremacist and white nationalist as it deems appropriate to describe the rising crop of racist far-right groups, individuals, and publications that have risen to prominence before, during, and after the 2016 election. ThinkProgress will reserve the term neo-Nazi, which many in the media have insisted is the most apt replacement for alt-right, for those who refer to themselves as neo-Nazis “or adopt important aspects of Nazi rhetoric and iconography.”

The debate over what to call Spencer and his ilk is more than a purely semantic one. The wrong terminology, ThinkProgress and others have argued, could contribute to the normalization and promotion of virulently racist beliefs. The fact that alt-right is a label Spencer chose himself also places it under deserved scrutiny.

But alt-right, for now, remains the least wrong and most broadly useful moniker. As I pointed out in an etymology back in August, it remains the term that, in its lack of specificity, best encompasses the broad array of beliefs espoused by those who have adopted the label: [Continue reading…]

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