As the Republican Party heads into Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas, it’s faced with the disturbing fact that frontrunner Donald Trump has become a hero to white supremacists. Trump’s presidential campaign, which has been marked by anti-Black, anti-Latino and more recently anti-Muslim rhetoric, has drawn the praise of white nationalists.
According to Politico, some of the country’s most infamous racists are singing his praises. Don Black, founder of the white supremacist website Stormfront, attributes Trump’s comments to increased traffic to his site. He said Stormfront had seen such a large increase in traffic it had to add additional servers to cope with the demand. Stormfront sees a 30-40 percent spike in traffic any time Trump talks about immigration or Muslims, said Black. According to Black, Trump has revitalized the white nationalist movement.
“Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” Black told Politico. “He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.”
David Duke, a white supremacist who lost gubernatorial and senate races in Louisiana, also credits Trump for allowing white people to openly display their racial animosity.
“He’s made it ok to talk about these incredible concerns of European Americans today, because I think European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view,” said Duke, who Politico described as “the most notorious racist intellectual in the United States.” “He’s meant a lot for the human rights of European Americans.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League say Trump’s rhetoric is driving online chatter among white supremacists and could spark acts of violence against minority groups. This is already happening. After Trump suggested a ban on Muslim immigration, a mosque in Coachella, Calif. was firebombed and mosques in Los Angeles were tagged with pro-Christian graffiti. Muslims around the country have also reported acts of violence and overt discrimination. Trump’s rallies have also seen acts of violence against people of color. A Black activist who was protesting at a Trump rally in Alabama was punched and kicked by Trump supporters. Latino journalist Jorge Ramos was forcibly ejected from a Trump speech after he continued to request specifics about his mass deportation plan for illegal immigrants.
Trump is tapping into the fears of white Americans who are unhappy about the nation’s changing demographics and frustrated by the sluggish economy. According to Atlanta Blackstar writer Fitzgerald Clark, Trump has merely unleashed resentment that has been simmering for a long time. The GOP has been exploiting this anger since the late ‘60s, when President Richard Nixon came up with the “Southern Strategy,” that convinced Dixiecrats, disaffected by the Democratic Party’s embrace of civil rights, to join the Republican Party. Now, the South votes solidly Republican and its almost impossible for a Democrat to win there. Ronald Reagan also exploited white resentment by launching his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., and talking about “state’s rights.” His use of code words like “welfare queens,” implied that inner city residents (Black people) were living off the system at the expense of hard-working white people.
Clark said Trump is simply expressing opinions many Americans are too scared to voice publicly.
“Stopping Donald Trump will not change the dynamic that millions of Americans are excited to have a political leader voice their feelings and sentiments loudly and unapologetically,” Clark said. “Verily, we may owe Donald Trump a debt of gratitude, in this context. If the overt racism and crassness of his campaign brings to light the reality of American extremism, racism, prejudice, hate and fear of the other, allowing us as a nation to exterminate this evil from our midst once and for all, then Donald Trump might find the lasting place in American history that he seems to crave, albeit not in the way he intended.”