The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Trump, Hate and Terror

We just witnessed a horrific slaughter of innocent people in Christchurch. We all know this self-proclaimed “Eco-fascist” murdered 50 people, including children, and wounded dozens more.

The world is appalled by the attack. The terrorist issued his manifesto, which I’ve read, and throughout it he calls immigrants “invaders.” This is his word of choice.

Even as the world is spinning in shock over the attack the vile occupant of the White House goes before the television cameras and uses the exact same language as the terrorist to describe immigrants and refugees.

Just as we are comprehending the dangers of hate, the labeling of immigrants and refugees as “invaders,” Trump tells the world: “People hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it [immigration] is.” The terrorist sees immigrants as invaders and so does Trump. If terrorism is our enemy — and it is — then Trump was giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Trump chose those words and he chose to use them even as the floors of the mosques in Christchurch were soaked with the blood of innocent people.

In the average year in the United States white supremacists slaughter more people than do those motivated by some radical, fringe view of Islam. The General Accounting Office surveyed all terrorist incidents in the United States between 9/11 and 2016 and found 73% of them were carried out by “far right wing violent extremists.”

In Countering Violent Extremism, the GAO wrote:

Since September 12, 2001, the number of fatalities caused by domestic violent extremists has ranged from 1 to 49 in a given year. As shown in figure 2, fatalities resulting from attacks by far right wing violet extremists have exceeded those caused by radical Islamist violent extremists in 10 of the 15 years, and were the same in 3 of the years since September 12, 2001. Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far right wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent).

It’s easy to remember the incidents where radical Islamists — who are more political than religious — attacked innocent people, but the public soon forgets — or just denies — incidents where right-wing extremists are involved. Consider these few incidents:

A white supremacists shoots up a community college in Roseburg, Oregon and kills nine people.

In Lafayette, Louisiana a right-wing extremist opens fire inside a movie theater, killing two young women.

In Charleston, SC a white supremacist walks into an African-American church, where the congregants welcome him with friendship. He returns their kindness with bullets killing 9 of them.

A neo-Nazi attacks a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and murders six people.

In Kansas a white supremacist Nazi, shouting “Heil Hitler” decides to kill Jews and attacks the Jewish Community Center, he kills two there, and then attacks a Jewish retirement home killing one. None of his victims were Jewish, and one was just a 14-year-old boy who was going to a music audition. It should be noted the terrorist in this incident had probably been involved in the murder of several men at an adult bookshop, which was rumored to be a hook-up place for gays.

Reat Underwood, a victim of Right-wing terrorism

Last October a white supremacist in Kentucky drove to a black church and tried to enter with his firearms. He found they had locked the doors just before he reached them. He would not be denied blood so he drove to a local grocery store and murdered two African-Americans shoppers. The terrorist exchanged gunshots with another armed shopper and tried to stop it by yelling, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”

Also last October in Pittsburgh a right-wing bigot went to the Tree of Life Synagogue and opened fired on the mainly elderly congregants. He killed 11 and wounded seven more.

Memorial Outside Tree of Life Synagogue

Last year 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein was stabbed 21 times by a member of the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division for two reasons — Blaze was Jewish, and gay.

In Charlottesville, Virginia one of the white supremacists Trump called “fine people” got into car and drove it at a high speed into a crowd of counter-protestors. He killed one and wounded another 19.

In Colorado Springs a right-wing religious extremists attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic. He murdered three people and wounded nine more.

Incidents such in Norway with the slaughter of 69 at a youth camp, with 110 more injured, by right-wing extremist — one cited favorably by the Christchurch terrorist — and New Zealand remind us the extreme right is a global threat.

Some of the lucky victims in Norway being assisted.

The GAO report covering 2001 to 2016 said there were 106 Americans who lost their lives to right-wing extremists. In total death counts, during that period, radical Islamists killed almost the same number. The main difference was 49 of the victims were killed in one incident at the gay night club Pulse, while far right extremists tended to have more incidents but fewer victims per incident. Since the GAO report was published right-wing extremists in the US killed another 20 people, while Islamists killed another 8.

In the days since 9/11 the majority of terrorist incidents in America were right wing in nature and they killed more Americans than radical Islamists during the same period.

The last right wing terrorist attempt in this country failed in 2018 when a fanatical Trump supporter sent out 16 bombs in packages to Democrats and CNN television. If we go back before 9/11 there were few Islamist attacks within the United States, but right-wing racists and neo-Nazis were slaughtering people year after year. Racist lynchings in the U.S. by themselves accounted for approximately 3,446 according to the Tuskegee Institute from 1882 to 1968.

In just one incident in 1995 a right-wing extremists bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people — including 19 children in a day care center in the building — and injured another 680.

Yet, while Trump endlessly theorizes about non-existent terrorists crossing the border from Mexico, he claims white nationalist extremism is NOT a threat. While not one terrorist incident has been attributed to a migrant who crossed to the U.S. across the Mexican border, Trump finds this a threat — on which billions and billions of taxpayer’s fund must be spent—while he pretends a litany of white supremacist terror attacks simply don’t exist.

Worse, when these people were goose-stepping through Charlottesville, chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” Trump went so far as to call them “fine people.” Ignoring this track record of right-wing extremist attacks, when Trump was asked if white nationalism were a threat, the day after the attack in Christchurch, he said, “I don’t really.”

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, in The Rise of Far-Right Extremism in the United States found:

Terrorist attacks by right-wing extremists in the United States have increased. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of such attacks was five or less per year. They then rose to 14 in 2012; continued at a similar level between 2012 and 2016, with a mean of 11 attacks and a median of 13 attacks; and then jumped to 31 in 2017. FBI arrests of right-wing extremists also increased in 2018.

These attacks got a boost when Trump campaigned openly using the same rhetoric as the New Zealand terrorist — calling immigrants invaders and grossly exaggerating, or just lying about crime statistics linked to immigration — for the record, native born Americans are more crime prone than immigrants, either legal or “illegal.” CSIS said, “the number of terrorist attacks (in the US) by far-right perpetrators rose over the past decade, more than quadrupling between 2016 and 2017.” This is precisely the period when Trump promised his followers if they physically assaulted protestors to his candidacy he would cover their legal fees.

The Nazi who murdered eleven in Pittsburgh denounced Jews as being responsible for bringing “invaders” into the Unite States. He repeated Trump’s mantra that these “invaders” “kill our people.” Yet, AFTER this Nazi blamed Jews for bringing “invaders” to America, Trump went public with the accusation one of the most prominent Jews in the country, George Soros, was financing the immigrant caravans labeled as “invaders” by Trump.

There is a reason the New Zealand terrorist called Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and purpose.” There is a reason the oldest terrorist/hate organization in the United States, the Ku Klux Klan, in their propaganda sheet The Crusader went as far as praising Trump for president. The editor of the publication said it wasn’t quite an actual endorsement, but “Overall, we do like his nationalist views and his words about shutting down the border to illegal aliens. It’s not an endorsement because, like anybody, there’s things you disagree with. But he kind of reflects what’s happening throughout the world. There seems to be a surge of nationalism worldwide as nationals reclaim their borders.”

Counterterrorism expert Robert McKenzie says Trump “fans the flame of anti-Muslim sentiment and at other times, he’s an arsonist of anti-Muslim sentiment. The rhetoric is absolutely resonating and connection with white supremacists and white nationalist groups, who are over the moon to hear him use such language.”

While Trump was calling Nazis and Klanners “fine people,” they were returning the love. Klan leader and long-time neo-Nazi David Duke used the gathering in Charlottesville to heap praise on Trump in return: “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.” Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, after Trump’s first State of the Union address glowed, “I’m always jarred by the fact that we actually elected this man President of the United States of America.” And he wasn’t the only racist/anti-Semite to cheer Trump along the way.

When the president of the United States speaks of his religious beliefs, he gives sanction to similar beliefs in others. But the same is true when he speaks in hateful, dishonest ways about immigrants. When he calls refugees and immigrations “invaders” he is sending a message to every individual who hates refugees and immigrants.

When he paints immigrants as a threat to the nation, he leaves open an unstated question: If immigrants are a threat — and the president says so — then are attacks on immigrants self-defense? To paint one group of people as a threat is to sanction, by reasonable deduction, acts of violence against them as defensive in nature and thus morally justified. This is why bigots of all kinds always paint their targets as “threats” to be repelled or exterminated. Trump painted immigrants in precisely the same manner as the New Zealand terrorist, and in so doing he gave a moral sanction to the actions that logically follow from his premise.

Jacob Levy warned:

Trump’s apologists are now reduced to saying that his speech has been worse than his actions so far, the reverse of this usual pattern. The effect is the reverse, too. When he tells us that there are “very fine people on both sides” as between the Klan and their critics, he turns the moral compass of American public discourse upside-down. He channels the desire for collective aspiration into an attempt to make us worse than we are. The norm against publicly legitimizing Klan-type explicit racism was built up over a long time, calling on white Americans to be better than they were, partly by convincing them that they were better. The norm is still strong enough that Trump grudgingly kind of walked back his comments after the Charlottesville protests last year. But a norm that was built up through speech, persuasion, and belief can be undermined the same way. Trump’s own racism, his embrace of white nationalist discourse, and his encouragement of the alt-right over the past two years have, through words, made a start on that transformation.

The words coming from the White House are meant to create the perception immigrants and Muslim per se are a threat to America, and to each one of us. Trump painted this picture, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” As for Muslims, he argued they are so inherently dangerous every Muslim must be banned from entering the United States, no matter who they are. When the president sanctions such interpretations of reality, it should be no surprise to him when someone takes up arms against these people claiming he must do so in order to protect the West from these “invaders.” The language and beliefs of Trump lead, by logical and rational implication, from Trump’s premises to the killer’s conclusion. But, as Ayn Rand, liked to say, “Check your premises.” Bad premises lead to bad conclusions and it is rare for any one president to hold so many false, evil or absurd premises at one time.

This is part of a three part series. Part one The Demented Politics of the New Zealand Terrorist covers the doctrines and hate espoused by the Christchurch terrorist. Part two, Trump, Hate and Terror covers the rhetoric of Donald Trump and how he and the terrorist are echo chambers using the same language. Part three is New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helped Promote Hate for Immigrants, which shows how Labour entered a coalition with right-wing anti-immigrant nationalists.

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James Peron

James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.