More About the Trump-eters

trumpA few weeks ago The Curmudgeon posted a brief excerpt from a New Yorker magazine article about the views of one supporter of lunatic presidential aspirant Donald Trump. The Curmudgeon hadn’t even finished reading the article but thought what he read was so alarming, so disturbing that he wanted to share it at once.

He should have waited – because that article had a lot more interesting observations about people who believe Donald Trump is the leader they’ve been waiting for.

So here are more excerpts from the New Yorker article “The Fearful and the Frustrated,” which you can find here.

In Hampton, I dropped by Fast Eddie’s Diner for the breakfast rush. “He has my vote,” Karen Mayer, a sixty-one-year-old human-resources manager, told me. Already? “Already,” she said. Her husband, Bob Hazelton, nodded in agreement. I asked what issue they cared about more than any other. “Illegal immigration, because it’s destroying the country,” Mayer said. I didn’t expect that answer in New Hampshire, I remarked. She replied, “They’re everywhere, and they are sucking our economy dry.” Hazelton nodded again, and said, “And we’re paying for it.”

*            *            *

When the Trump storm broke this summer, it touched off smaller tempests that stirred up American politics in ways that were easy to miss from afar. At the time, I happened to be reporting on extremist white-rights groups, and observed at first hand their reactions to his candidacy. Trump was advancing a dire portrait of immigration that partly overlapped with their own. On June 28th, twelve days after Trump’s announcement, the Daily Stormer, America’s most popular neo-Nazi news site, endorsed him for President: “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people.” The Daily Stormer urged white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.”

*            *            *

Richard Spencer is a self-described “identitarian” who lives in Whitefish, Montana, and promotes “white racial consciousness.” At thirty-six, Spencer is trim and preppy, with degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago. He is the president and director of the National Policy Institute, a think tank, co-founded by William Regnery, a member of the conservative publishing family, that is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States and around the world.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Spencer “a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old.” Spencer told me that he had expected the Presidential campaign to be an “amusing freak show,” but that Trump was “refreshing.” He went on, “Trump, on a gut level, kind of senses that this is about demographics, ultimately. We’re moving into a new America.” He said, “I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” but he did believe that Trump reflected “an unconscious vision that white people have—that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it. I think it’s there. I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon. I think he is the one person who can tap into it.”

*            *            *

After years of decline, the League [from elsewhere in the article: the “Alabama-based League of the South, a secessionist group that envisions an independent Southern republic with an “Anglo-Celtic” leadership”) has recently acquired a number of younger members, including Brad Griffin, a thirty-four-year-old who writes an influential blog under the name Hunter Wallace. Short and genial, he wore Top-Siders, khaki shorts, and a polo shirt. As we talked, Griffin’s eyes wandered to his two-year-old son, who was roaming nearby. Griffin told me that he embraced white nationalism after reading Patrick Buchanan’s “Death of the West,” which argued, in Griffin’s words, that “all of the European peoples were dying out, their birthrates were low, and you had mass immigration and multiculturalism.”

*            *            *

The longer I stayed, the more I sensed that my fellow-attendees occupied a parallel universe in which white Americans face imminent demise, the South is preparing to depart the United States, and Donald Trump is going to be President. When Hill took the stage, he told his compatriots that the recent lowering of the Confederate flag was just the beginning. Soon, he warned, adopting the unspecified “they,” they will come for the “monuments, battlefields, parks, cemeteries, street names, even the dead themselves.” The crowd was on its feet, cheering him on. “This, my friends, is cultural genocide,” he said, adding, “Often, as history has shown, cultural genocide is merely a prelude to physical genocide.”

*            *            *

As people turned up in Oskaloosa, I encountered some of the fearful. A construction worker named Ron James, wearing a T-shirt that said “Every-Juan Illegal Go Home,” told me that the “invasion of illegals” is eroding American culture: “We’re getting flushed down the toilet.”

*            *            *

When Trump started emphasizing the mortal threat posed by undocumented immigration, America’s white nationalists rejoiced. “Why are whites supposed to be happy about being reduced to a minority?” Jared Taylor, of American Renaissance, asked me. “It’s clear why Hispanics celebrate diversity: ‘More of us! More Spanish! More cucaracha!’ ”

*            *            *

Taylor, who calls himself a “racial dissident,” was slim and decorous in gray trousers and a button-down when we met. For years, he and others have sensed an opportunity on the horizon to expand their ranks. When Obama was elected in 2008, Stormfront, the leading white-supremacist Web forum, crashed from heavy traffic. The Klan, weakened by lawsuits and infighting, barely exists anymore, but the Internet draws in young racists like Dylann Roof, who is accused of the June 17th massacre of nine people at a church in Charleston. The attack inspired a broad effort to remove the Confederate flag—from the state capitol and from the shelves of Amazon and of Walmart and a host of other retail stores. Defenders of the flag were galvanized, and they organized more than a hundred rallies around the South, interpreting the moment, months after racial unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore, as a sign of a backlash against political correctness and multiculturalism. Trump’s language landed just as American hate groups were more energized than at any time in years. Griffin, the blogger for the League of the South, told me that the removal of the flag had crystallized “fears that people have about what happens when we become a minority. What happens when we have no control over things? You’re seeing it play out right now.”

Over sandwiches in the dining room of Taylor’s brick Colonial, with views of a spacious back yard, a half-hour from downtown Washington, D.C., five of his readers and friends shared their views on race and politics, on the condition that I not use their full names. They were white men, in white-collar jobs, and each had a story of radicalization: Chris, who wore a pink oxford shirt and a tie, and introduced himself as an employee of “Conservativism, Inc.,” the Republican establishment, said that he had graduated from a public high school where there were frequent shootings, but he felt he was supposed to “ignore the fact that we were not safe on a day-to-day basis because of all of these blacks and the other immigrants in our schools.”

Jason, a muscle-bound commercial-real-estate broker in a polo shirt, said, “I’ve had personnel—in strict, frightened confidence—just tell me, ‘Hey, look, we’re just hiring minorities, so don’t appeal, don’t come back.’ ” This sense of “persecution,” as he called it, is widely held. In a study published in 2011, Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Samuel Sommers, a professor of psychology at Tufts, found that more than half of white Americans believe that whites have replaced blacks as “the primary victims of discrimination” today, even though, as Norton and Sommers write, “by nearly any metric—from employment to police treatment, loan rates to education—statistics continue to indicate drastically poorer outcomes for Black than White Americans.”

The men around the table, unlike previous generations of white nationalists, were inspired not by nostalgia for slavery but by their dread of a time when non-Hispanic whites will no longer be the largest demographic group in America. They uniformly predicted a violent future. Erick, who wore a Captain America T-shirt and unwittingly invoked one of Trump’s signature phrases, told me, “The American dream is dead, and the American nightmare is just beginning. I believe it’s that way. I think that whites don’t know the terror that’s upon us.”

All the men wanted to roll back anti-discrimination laws in order to restore restrictive covenants and allow them to carve out all-white enclaves. Henry, a twenty-six-year-old with cropped blond hair, said, “We all see some hope in Donald Trump, because it’s conceivable that he could benefit the country in a way that we feel would be helpful.”

*            *            *

In early August, the Republican candidates convened in Cleveland for their first debate. I watched it on television with Matthew Heimbach, the young white nationalist in Cincinnati, and some of his friends. Heimbach, whom anti-racist activists call “the Little Fuhrer,” for his tirades against “rampant multiculturalism,” founded the Traditionalist Youth Network, a far-right group that caters to high-school and college students and pushes for the separation of blacks and whites… Like many ultraconservatives, Heimbach had largely given up on the Republican Party. He said, “We need to get the white community to actually start speaking for the white community, instead of letting a bunch of Republicans that hate us anyway, and don’t speak for our values, be the unofficial spokespeople.”

*            *            *

When Trump leaped to the head of the Republican field, he delivered the appearance of legitimacy to a moral vision once confined to the fevered fringe, elevating fantasies from the message boards and campgrounds to the center stage of American life. In doing so, he pulled America into a current that is coursing through other Western democracies—Britain, France, Spain, Greece, Scandinavia—where xenophobic, nationalist parties have emerged since the 2008 economic crisis to besiege middle-ground politicians. In country after country, voters beset by inequality and scarcity have reached past the sober promises of the center-left and the center-right to the spectre of a transcendent solution, no matter how cruel. “

Trump’s candidacy has already left a durable mark, expanding the discourse of hate such that, in the midst of his feuds and provocations, we barely even registered that Senator Ted Cruz had called the sitting President “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” or that Senator Marco Rubio had redoubled his opposition to abortion in cases of rape, incest, or a mortal threat to the mother. Trump has bequeathed a concoction of celebrity, wealth, and alienation that is more potent than any we’ve seen before. If, as the Republican establishment hopes, the stargazers eventually defect, Trump will be left with the hardest core—the portion of the electorate that is drifting deeper into unreality, with no reconciliation in sight. 

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Comments

  • Barb  On September 29, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Just when one thinks people have learned from Hitler and WWII. I find this behavior, this pride in white supremecy (sp??) , to be frightening. I find myself thinking all the time, just what the hell is wrong with people?

    • foureyedcurmudgeon  On September 29, 2015 at 9:48 am

      I find it both scary and surprising – surprising not so much that people still think this way but that in this day and age they’re so willing to talk about it.

  • Barb  On September 29, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I think that’s what shocks me the most…the pride they take in thinking this way. Even “nice” people can spout this stuff. When they say things in front of me, I don’t hold back. I’m not sure that some of them consider me a nice person anymore.

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