Trump’s support comes from white resentment

Jamelle Bouie writes: Seven months into his presidency, Donald Trump is deeply unpopular. In Gallup’s latest poll of presidential job approval, he’s down to 34 percent, a level unseen by most presidents outside of an economic disaster or foreign policy blunder. In FiveThirtyEight’s adjusted average of all approval polling, he stands at 37 percent. And yet, few Republican lawmakers of consequence are willing to buck him or his agenda, in large part because their voters still support the president by huge margins. What we have clearer evidence of now is why. From polling and the behavior of individual politicians, it’s become harder to deny that people support the president not just for being president, but for his core message of white resentment and grievance—the only area where he has been consistent and unyielding.

You see broad Republican allegiance to Trump in the polling. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans say they agree with Trump on the issues. And 78 percent of Republicans say they approve of the president’s overall job performance. Republicans who have bucked or criticized Trump, like Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, have jeopardized their political futures as a result.

You also see the degree to which white racial resentment is a key force among Republican voters. Most Republicans, remember, agreed with President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he held both sides—white supremacists and counterdemonstrators—responsible for the chaos that claimed the life of one anti-racist protester. In an analysis of recent polling, my colleague William Saletan observes that, across a number of questions gauging racial animus, Republicans generally (and Trump supporters specifically) are most likely to give answers signaling tolerance for racism and racist ideas. Forty-one percent of Republicans, for example, say that whites face more discrimination than blacks and other nonwhite groups (among strong Trump supporters, it’s 45 percent). Ten percent of Republicans and 19 percent of strong Trump supporters have a favorable impression of white nationalists, while 13 percent of the former (and 17 percent of the latter) say it’s “acceptable” to hold white supremacist views. [Continue reading…]

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U.S. ad agency boosts Germany’s right-wing populist AfD

Der Spiegel reports: For several days now, many Facebook and Twitter users in Germany have been confronted with a disturbing image on their profile pages: It shows bloody tire tracks running across the screen, reminiscent of the ones left by Islamic State terrorists in several European cities. It is accompanied by the slogan: “The tracks left by the world chancellor in Europe.”

Angela Merkel as a terrorist — that’s the motif that the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has chosen to launch the internet portion of its campaign leading up to national parliamentary elections on Sept. 24. The right-wing populists plan to spend a large part of their 3-million-euro budget on similar publicity offenses. The party is planning a digital campaign that may well be more drastic and aggressive than anything German voters have ever seen.

The party’s election posters, designed by advertising professional and prize-winning scandal author Thor Kunkel, have already stood out from those of other parties. One shows the belly of a pregnant white woman with the slogan, “New Germans? We’ll make them ourselves,” a reference to the party’s rejection of immigrants in the country. Yet another shows a piglet with the words: “Islam? It doesn’t fit in with our cuisine.” Finally, the one getting perhaps the most attention states, “Burkas? We prefer bikinis.”

But now the AfD, which has always been an internet-savvy party that likes to use the medium to bypass the mainstream media and communicate its messages directly to its fans, has had enough of dead-tree media. It intends to rely heavily on the web as it enters the last, intense phase of the campaign.

To assist in its efforts, the party has tapped Kunkel’s contacts to engage the services of advertising professionals in the United States with experience on the right-wing spectrum. The party is working together with the Texas-based agency Harris Media, which recently presented its plans to the AfD’s national committee. With its provocative and aggressive campaigns, the agency has already contributed to the success of a number of controversial politicians. In Britain, it worked with the anti-EU UKIP party; in Israel, it worked with the governing Likud party; and in the United States, news agency Bloomberg has dubbed company founder Vincent Harris “the man who invented the Republican internet.” [Continue reading…]

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America’s getting more tolerant and haters hate it

Albert Hunt writes: Sure, there were a lot of haters in Charlottesville. That shouldn’t obscure some better news, which is that the U.S. is becoming a more accepting and tolerant nation. Unlike President Donald Trump, most citizens don’t equivocate when asked their opinion of the hate groups that descended on Virginia two weeks ago.

One of the most interesting changes over the years is in attitudes toward interracial marriage. In 1968, a year after interracial marriage was given constitutional protection, 73 percent of the public opposed these unions, including one-third of African-Americans. Only 20 percent approved of them. By 2013, the last year Gallup’s pollsters asked the question, attitudes had dramatically reversed: 87 percent of poll respondents approved of interracial marriage and only 11 were opposed.

According to the Pew Research Center, 7 percent of Americans consider themselves multi-racial. This is an accelerating trend embraced by young people.

While most multi-racial people say they’ve been targets of racial slurs or jokes, almost none think their status is a liability. One in five, the Pew survey finds, say it’s an advantage, while three-quarters say it has made no difference in their daily lives or career.

The Pew Center’s conclusion: Multi-racial Americans “are at the cutting edge of social and demographic changes in the U.S. — young, proud, tolerant and growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole.” [Continue reading…]

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‘We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation’

Joe Biden writes: In January of 2009, I stood waiting in Wilmington, Delaware, for a train carrying the first African American elected president of the United States. I was there to join him as vice president on the way to a historic Inauguration. It was a moment of extraordinary hope for our nation—but I couldn’t help thinking about a darker time years before at that very site.

My mind’s eye drifted back to 1968. I could see the flames burning Wilmington, the violence erupting on the news of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the federal troops taking over my city.

I was living history—and reliving it—at the same time. And the images racing through my mind were a vivid demonstration that when it comes to race in America, hope doesn’t travel alone. It’s shadowed by a long trail of violence and hate.

In Charlottesville, that long trail emerged once again into plain view not only for America, but for the whole world to see. The crazed, angry faces illuminated by torches. The chants echoing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 1930s. The neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists emerging from dark rooms and remote fields and the anonymity of the web into the bright light of day on the streets of a historically significant American city.

If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now: We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation.

The giant forward steps we have taken in recent years on civil liberties and civil rights and human rights are being met by a ferocious pushback from the oldest and darkest forces in America. Are we really surprised they rose up? Are we really surprised they lashed back? Did we really think they would be extinguished with a whimper rather than a fight? [Continue reading…]

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Why Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio isn’t like most presidential pardons

Andrew Rudalevige writes: Last month, as President Trump made broad claims about his power to pardon, I noted that he “may find out that something can be both legal and, simultaneously, an impeachable offense.” Last night, as the president issued a pardon to former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt of court, some commentators argued that this was exactly the case.

Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, for example, wrote after Trump’s belligerent Phoenix rally speech that such a pardon would represent an “assault on the federal judiciary, the Constitution and the rule of law itself” for which the “remedy is impeachment.”

It is hard to gauge the political fallout of the president’s decision — announced as it was late on a Friday night during an impending hurricane. Normally, though, as political scientist Jeffrey Crouch’s book on the pardon power makes clear, pardons are granted for two reasons: either to provide mercy or correct a miscarriage of justice, in an individual case; or on more general grounds based on public policy.

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio does not fit either category very well.

As regards mercy: Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist that pardons were needed; otherwise, “justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.” Presidents have sometimes pardoned elderly convicts, for instance, rather than see them die in prison.

Arpaio is 85, but he had not even yet been sentenced; that hearing was set for October. As a procedural matter, the guidelines of the Justice Department’s office of the pardon attorney — not binding on the president, of course, and not consulted in this instance — state that petitions for clemency are normally considered only after five years have passed after a conviction. (Further, in considering such petitions, “The extent to which a petitioner has accepted responsibility for his or her criminal conduct and made restitution to its victims are important considerations.”)

Pardons also serve as a check against the judicial branch, when the president feels a grave miscarriage of justice has occurred. At his Phoenix rally, Trump seemed to make this claim, saying that “Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job.”

The problem with that, though, is that Arpaio was convicted for doing the opposite of his job. [Continue reading…]

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The year I spent in Joe Arpaio’s tent jail was hell. He should never walk free

Francisco Chairez writes: During the sweltering summer, the temperature could reach 115 or 120 degrees. I was in the tents when we hit 120. It was impossible to stay cool in the oppressive heat. Everyone would strip down to their underwear. There was no cold water, only water from vending machines; and eventually, the machines would run out. People would faint; some had heatstroke. That summer, ambulances came about three times. One man died in his bed.

But the winter was even worse. During the winter, there were no heaters. Most jackets and heavily insulated pants weren’t allowed; they don’t want you to be comfortable.

When the temperatures dropped, we were forced to come up with makeshift ways to keep ourselves warm. The showers were kept scalding hot during both summer and winter. We hated to shower, but we would fill our empty water bottles up with the nearly boiling water and put the bottles between our blankets when it was freezing outside. We also would save the plastic bags we found when we cleaned up the jail yard and wrap our feet with them, tucking hot water bottles inside to keep our feet warm while we slept.

Still, it was freezing, achingly cold. I was in so much pain that winter that now, when I’m cold, it reminds me of being there.

Arpaio saved worse abuse for others. Those who were in full detention had to wear pink socks, underwear and flip-flops. They ate peanut butter and bread, and the only other meal they received was baloney and bread. They also had the option of “slob,” which was an unknown, disgusting substance that looked like some kind of thick stew and tasted like cardboard. (The poor people in the work furlough program who couldn’t pay for vending-machine food had no choice but to eat it.)

It’s hard to recall memories of that year. When I heard Friday that President Trump had decided to pardon Arpaio, I was disgusted, dispirited and disappointed in the American political system.

I am not ashamed of what I did: I committed a crime and I paid my dues. How ironic it is, that the immigrant who committed a minor criminal act has to live with a conviction on his record for the rest of his life, while a criminal like Arpaio gets to walk away unscathed for his crimes, which are greater in scale and severity. [Continue reading…]

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The alt-left is real, and it’s helping fascists

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad writes: When Donald Trump used the term “alt-left” to deride the anti-fascists in Charlottesville last week, he was adopting a usage that has gained currency among far right ideologues on Fox News. It was Trump’s attempt to draw moral equivalence between the neo-Nazis and the protestors confronting them.
But the protestors in Charlottesville were traditional anti-fascists with a proud history and defined identity – there is nothing “alt” about them. If the label was being misapplied to them, maybe “alt-left” is nothing more than a right-wing media trope to smear progressive activists.

Not quite. Before the right hijacked it, the “alt-left” label was used mainly by progressives to refer to a strain of leftism that sees liberalism rather than fascism as the main enemy. It is distinguished mainly by a reactionary contrarianism, a seething ressentiment, and a conspiracist worldview.

In its preoccupations it is closer to the right: More alarmed by Hillary Clinton winning the primary than by Donald Trump winning the presidency; more concerned with imagined “deep state” conspiracies than with actual Russian subversion of US democracy; eager to prevent a global war no one is contemplating but supportive of a US alliance with Russia for a new “war on terror”.

Like the right it disdains “globalists”, it sees internationalism as liberal frivolity, and its solidarity is confined to repressive regimes overseas.

Though these tendencies have always been a feature of the far left, they were turned into a powerful obstructive force after the last Democratic primary as the “never Hillary” fringe of Bernie Sanders supporters defected to the Green Party (in its worst incarnation under Jill Stein) or chose to sit out the election. Loath to admit mistake, the enablers of Trump now spend their time minimising what he has unleashed. [Continue reading…]

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The disturbing lessons of Trump’s shameful Arpaio pardon

Scott Lemieux writes: During his very loosely hinged extemporaneous remarks in Phoenix on Tuesday, President Trump strongly hinted that he would pardon the infamous former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. On Friday evening, with a frightening hurricane descending on Texas, Trump made it official. The decision to issue his first pardon to a public official who made his reputation, such as it is, through race-baiting and a contempt for both legal restraints and basic human decency tells us a lot about Trump — and none of it is good.

It is highly relevant that Trump and Arpaio first became allies while Trump was rising to prominence within the Republican Party by pushing the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. The Arizona sheriff actually launched a farcical investigation into Obama’s birth certificate, wasting taxpayer money to build his cred with his resentful white supporters. That Arpaio and Trump would become mutual admirers was inevitable.

It should go without saying that Arpaio is a terrible candidate for a pardon. If you have any doubts, read this chilling 2009 profile of Arpaio by William Finnegan in The New Yorker. Arpaio’s first claim to local fame was to make the conditions of imprisonment for inmates under his jurisdiction as inhumane as possible — housing thousands of people in tents next to cites like dumps and waste disposal plants in the brutal Arizona heat. He fed inmates for 30 cents a meal, two meals a day, and then made the Food Network one of three channels available to prisoners. He put many people who were being held for trial and had not been convicted of any crime to work on chain gangs. Under his watch, guards were so consistently cruel to inmates that the county had amassed more than $40 million in civil damages from lawsuits. And he also engaged in egregious racial profiling when detaining people suspected of being illegal immigrants.

Arpaio’s focus on abusing prisoners and arbitrarily detaining people of Latin American descent also made his “tough on crime” reputation grossly misleading. The resources wasted on his cruel publicity stunts took money away from law enforcement, slowing response times and leading to (among other problems) hundreds of botched or perfunctory sex crimes investigations. He did, however, find the time to file frivolous charges against two journalists who were looking into his suspicious property dealings, leading to another huge legal settlement for Maricopa County’s taxpayers to pay off. [Continue reading…]

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Sebastian Gorka is forced out as White House adviser, officials say

The New York Times reports: Sebastian Gorka, an outspoken adviser to President Trump and lightning rod for controversy, has been forced out of his position at the White House, two administration officials said on Friday.

One of the officials said that the president’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, had telegraphed his lack of interest in keeping Mr. Gorka during internal discussions over the last week.

Mr. Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president, had been on vacation for at least the last two weeks, that official said.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about personnel issues.

The Federalist, a conservative website, published portions of what it called a resignation letter written by Mr. Gorka. It quoted him as saying that given which “forces” were on the rise in the White House, the best way for him to support the president was from outside it.

The White House, seeking to blunt Mr. Gorka’s claim that he had resigned, put out an unattributed statement saying that he no longer works in the administration, but that he did not resign. [Continue reading…]

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Trump confronts unprecedented public rebuke by Gary Cohn after Charlottesville

The Washington Post reports: An unprecedented rebuke of President Trump by National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn reverberated through Washington on Friday, forcing the White House to respond to harsh, public criticism from one of the president’s top advisers.

Cohn lashed Trump’s comments earlier this month blaming the violence in Charlottesville on “both sides,” saying in an interview with the Financial Times that “citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK.” The adviser, who is Jewish and has long given to Jewish causes, said that the administration “must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups.”

The criticism was the first serious public condemnation of Trump’s behavior by a member of his inner circle since the beginning of his presidency and raised the question of how a president who puts a heavy premium on loyalty would react.

Privately, a White House official said, Trump was furious about Cohn’s public airing, though publicly, White House officials, while defending the president’s response to the events in Charlottesville, acknowledged that the White House can always do more. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports: In the days after the Charlottesville rally, when Mr. Trump defended white nationalist protesters, Jewish members of the administration were mostly silent. Mr. Cohn is so far one of the few in the administration to publicly condemn the president’s remarks. Military leaders posted messages on social media denouncing neo-Nazis and racism, but did not specifically mention the commander in chief. Public deviation from the president by the military is unusual.

Mr. Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides,” as Mr. Cohn stood nearby in the lobby of Trump Tower where the president made his remarks to reporters. After Mr. Trump left, Mr. Cohn stood uncomfortably fielding questions about the president’s statements, and he repeatedly declined to comment. At the time, people close to Mr. Cohn said he was disgusted and deeply upset by Mr. Trump’s comments. [Continue reading…]

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A black man went undercover online as a white supremacist. This is what he learned

The Washington Post reports: As soon as Theo Wilson started making YouTube videos about culture and race, trolls using racial slurs started flocking to his page.

After engaging in endless sparring matches in the comments section, Wilson began to notice something curious: His trolls seemed to speak a language unto themselves, one replete with the same twisted facts and false history. It was as if they had all passed through some “dimensional doorway,” arriving from an alternative universe where history, politics and commonly accepted facts had been turned inside out.

There was the idea that slavery was a form of charity that benefited enslaved Africans; that freed blacks owned more slaves than whites before the Civil War; that people of color make up the majority of those receiving aid from America’s safety-net programs; and that investor and philanthropist George Soros is funding protest movements like Black Lives Matter.

Curious about where his trolls were getting their revisionist history lessons, Wilson, 36, — an award-winning poet and actor from Denver — decided to go undercover in their world. In 2015, he started by creating a ghost profile named “Lucious25,” a digital white supremacist who appeared to be an indigenous member of the alt-right’s online echo chamber, he said. [Continue reading…]

 

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Trump is fueling a rising terror threat from white supremacists and neo-Nazis

Mother Jones reports: When President Donald Trump remarked that “some very fine people” were among the white supremacists who provoked chaos and violence in Charlottesville the second weekend of August, he set off outrage across the political spectrum. According to multiple law enforcement leaders and security experts I’ve spoken with, Trump’s response to a neo-Nazi’s lethal car attack on a crowd of protesters in the Virginia college town also poured fuel on a long-simmering threat of far-right violence in America.

“He said he loves us all,” Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, wrote after Trump initially blamed “many sides” for the carnage. Anglin specifically hailed Trump for ignoring media questions about his white nationalist supporters: “When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

The white supremacist Richard Spencer, who participated in the Charlottesville rally, said he was “really proud” of Trump’s equivocating response. He mocked the president’s more canned condemnation of far-right hate groups the next day as “‘kumbaya’ nonsense,” declaring that “only a dumb person would take those lines seriously.” Within 24 hours, Trump reverted to pointing a finger at the “alt-left.

Then, in an acid campaign-style speech in Phoenix on Tuesday night, Trump launched into a half-hour-long tirade aimed at rewriting the story of how he handled the Charlottesville crisis. In his recounting, he lashed out at the “sick” news media and excised all of his previous remarks blaming the political left. He mocked “anarchists” and “antifa,” and he warned a fervent, predominantly white audience that “they are trying to take away our history and our heritage.”

Trump’s actions have only deepened concerns among US law enforcement and other security leaders I’ve spoken with since the car attack 10 days ago that left one person dead, as many as 30 others injured, and the nation’s politics in fresh turmoil. [Continue reading…]

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Seeds of right-wing terrorism

A new study on the psychological processes common to social conservatism and terrorism, by Lazar Stankov, identifies one trait in particular of rising concern. Tom Jacobs writes: He calls this “grudge,” which he defines as “a generalized belief in a vile world.” One obvious example: Radical Islamists view the world as having been polluted by immorality. “Without grudge,” Stankov writes, “the militant extremist mindset is incomplete.”

Thus it is hugely concerning that there are “suggestions in the political climate” that this mindset may be on the rise in Western nations. Stankov points to “the emergence of Donald Trump in the U.S.” and the success of right-wing populist parties in some European countries, including Hungary.

As the right becomes more radicalized, “Political correctness may be interpreted as the implementation of morally rotten policies in our social lives,” he warns. “As a consequence, social institutions—including universities, which are perceived to promote or tolerate such dissenting views—might become targets of terrorist attacks.”

Nastiness and religiosity are believed to be genetically influenced, and thus difficult to modify. But Stankov argues that the “grudge” mindset can potentially be reduced through “the engagement of media, community groups, and education.” Religious leaders, he writes, need to spend more time “debunking the proposition that the West is evil, and promoting the value of life.” [Continue reading…]

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The insidious libertarian-to-alt-right pipeline

Matt Lewis writes: Libertarianism has an alt-right problem. Many prominent leaders of the alt-right have, at some point, identified as libertarian. I am curious as to… why?

Milo Yiannopoulos has billed himself (and has been billed by others) as libertarian. About a year ago, he came clean about that. According to Business Insider, the alt-right troll Tim Gionet (aka “Baked Alaska”) formerly “identified as a carefree, easygoing libertarian” who “supported Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s bid for the White House, firmly opposed the war on drugs, and championed the cause of Black Lives Matter…”

Gavin McInnes bills himself as a libertarian, but he founded the Proud Boys―a men’s rights group that is considered part of the alt-right. Augustus Invictus, a Florida attorney who literally drank goat’s blood as part of an animal sacrifice, ran for senate in the 2016 Libertarian Party primary and spoke at Liberty Fest. Recently popular among college libertarians, Stefan Molyneux evolved into a pro-Trump alt-righter. And Richard Spencer was thrown out of the International Students for Liberty conference this year after crashing the event.

It is also true that many of today’s alt-righters are disaffected conservatives. However, there are many more conservatives in this country than there are libertarians, which suggests a disproportionate number of today’s prominent alt-righters began as libertarians. [Continue reading…]

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Nearly 2,600 advertisers have pulled advertising from Breitbart

The Independent reports: More than 2,500 advertisers have reportedly stopped advertising on right-wing news website Breitbart News in recent months, underscoring the swelling power of a grassroots campaign to boycott the platform, especially amid escalating political tensions in the US.

According to a tweet by Sleeping Giants, a campaign group aiming to pressure companies into cutting ties with media they deem to be racist or sexist, the number of advertisers that have ceased advertising is “climbing towards 2,600”. [Continue reading…]

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The war on Jared Kushner is about to go nuclear

Gabriel Sherman writes: On the morning he was being ousted as Donald Trump’s chief strategist last Friday, Steve Bannon had already turned the page. “Why do you sound unfazed?” a friend asked Bannon as news of his demise ricocheted across the web. “Because,” Bannon replied, “we’re going to war.” Hours later, Bannon was calling into the editorial meeting at Breitbart News, rallying his troops to continue the battles he waged inside the White House. “We have a duty to the country to be the vanguard of ‘The Movement,’” he told his staff, according to one person on the call. Bannon’s main targets are the West Wing’s coterie of New York Democrat “globalists”—Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn—as well as the “hawks,” comprised of National Security Adviser H.R McMaster and his deputy, Dina Powell. “He wants to beat their ideas into submission,” Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow told me. “Steve has a lot of things up his sleeve.”

The chaotic, war-torn West Wing of the past six months will be prologue, but the coming struggles will be as personal as they are ideological, waged not with leaks but with slashing Breitbart banners. On Sunday, Breitbart took renewed aim at McMaster, with a headline claiming he advocated “Quran Kissing.” But most of all, there’s a deep animosity between Bannon and Kushner, amplified by a lack of respect. Bannon finds Kushner’s political instincts highly questionable. “He said Jared is a dope,” one Bannon ally recalled. The two clashed fiercely on personnel decisions and policy debates, both domestic and international, many of which Bannon lost. But Bannon, who was the only West Wing advisor to publicly support the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, is especially galled at being scapegoated as an anti-Semite in its wake. “It’s one of the attacks he takes most personally because it’s not true,” a Breitbart staffer told me. Bannon’s allies lay out a more complicated backstory. Bannon, they say, lobbied Trump aggressively to move America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but was blocked by Kushner. And, according to three Bannon allies, Bannon pushed a tougher line against the Palestinians than Kushner did. In May, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the White House, Bannon stayed home. “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist,” Bannon texted a friend. [Continue reading…]

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Small wonder: The global fascist love affair with the Assad regime

Alex Rowell writes: When the neo-Nazi who smashed his Dodge Charger into a crowd of anti-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia – killing a woman and injuring many others – was found to have posted a Facebook photo supportive of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, more than a few lay observers were left scratching their heads.

Adding to the confusion were videos from the scene showing fellow white supremacists in Charlottesville voicing sympathies for Assad (‘Assad’s the man, brother! Assad’s the man!’); one even wearing a t-shirt depicting a helicopter next to the words, ‘Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.’.

That the fascist mob should be enamoured of President Trump seemed comprehensible enough. But why should they be keen on a non-Aryan, non-Christian – indeed, Arab and Muslim, no less – leader with ties to such notorious Islamist entities as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Republic of Iran?

‘Syria’s Assad has become an unexpected icon of the far right in America’, declared a Washington Post headline, in a nod at the general puzzlement. This was a fine article but an unfortunate title, for it was only ‘unexpected’ for those unaware of Damascus’ open courtship of the global far-right stretching back many years now (the headline was later amended to remove the word ‘unexpected’). [Continue reading…]

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What really motivated the protests in Charlottesville?

 

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Extremism is surging. To beat it, we need young hearts and minds

Scott Atran writes: The last of the shellshocked were being evacuated as I headed back toward Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famed tourist-filled walkway where another disgruntled “soldier of Islamic State” had ploughed a van into the crowd, killing at least 13 and injuring more than 120 from 34 nations. Minutes before the attack I had dropped my wife’s niece near where the rampage began. It was deja vu and dread again, as with the Paris massacre at the Bataclan theatre in 2015, next door to where my daughter lived.

At a seafront promenade south of Barcelona, a car of five knife-wielding kamikaze mowed down a woman before police killed them all. One teenage attacker had posted on the web two years before that “on my first day as king of the world” he would “kill the unbelievers and leave only Muslims who follow their religion”.

Mariano Rajoy, the president of Spain, declared that “our values and way of life will triumph” – just as Theresa May had proclaimed “our values will prevail” in March when yet another petty criminal “born again” into radical Islam drove his vehicle across Westminster Bridge to kill and wound pedestrians.

In Charlottesville the week before, the white supremacist attacker who killed civil rights activist Heather Heyer mimicked Isis-inspired killings using vehicles. “This was something that was growing in him,” the alleged attacker’s former history teacher told a newspaper. “He had this fascination with nazism [and] white supremacist views … I admit I failed. But this is definitely a teachable moment and something we need to be vigilant about, because this stuff is tearing up our country.”

The values of liberal and open democracy increasingly appear to be losing ground around the world to those of narrow, xenophobic ethno-nationalisms and radical Islam. This is not a “clash of civilisations”, but a collapse of communities, for ethno-nationalist violent extremism and transnational jihadi terrorism represent not the resurgence of traditional cultures, but their unravelling. [Continue reading…]

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