Several months ago, I attended a carefully moderated panel about the rise of global extremism. We were just about a year into the Trump administration, and the panelists– esteemed historians, lawyers, social workers–were mostly careful to stress that the US was not interwar Germany. We weren’t heading into a Holocaust. While fascist forces were louder than they have been in our past, our democracy was robust enough to withstand them. Those claims were doubtful to me then and seem extremely shaky now.
A few things to consider:
- Our Department of Justice has done potentially irreparable damage to innocent immigrant children of color in order to send the message to asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants that they are not welcome here.
- Years of rightwing attacks on families of color, especially those headed by single mothers, and degradation of black men as irresponsible, violent, and criminal have consequently devalued children of color, which is why so many Republicans can look at the horror of our treatment of immigrant children and say that it’s good policy.
- The Trump administration is moving to separate children who are citizens from their non-citizen parents who are here legally.
- The Trump administration is threatening to take citizenship away from naturalized citizens.
- The Trump administration is threatening to deport non-citizens in the country legally who apply for but are denied an extension of a green card or a change in status. This process allows people in the country legally to be held without bond or a right to a lawyer or to a fair trial for the simple act of legally requesting a change in status.
- Trump has suggested that natural born citizens of color who exercise their right to peaceful protest should be stripped of citizenship.
- The Trump administration’s “tough on crime” attitude will increase the number of people of color in jail. Those people will lose the right to vote.
- Republican-led attacks on voter rights are an effort disenfranchise people of color–again, attacking a key right of citizens.
- Republicans continue to show affection for Nazis, neo-Confederates, and other white supremacists because they understand that this is the future of their party. They would rather endorse racists and win than stand up to them and lose.
These are trial runs. A country that builds cages for brown skinned immigrant children is a country that will do far worse.
Above, a map of the white ethnostate that white supremacist Carlos Grant posted to white supremacist social media. White separatists have all kinds of proposals for creating an all-white nation, from crafting state constitutions to ban the presence of African Americans (as Oregon did) to encouraging people to move to places where whites are already a majority and then seceding from the US. “New Europa,” “New Albion,” and “nations” are envisioned regularly, with those playing Fantasy Succession even designing flags and writing constitutions for their new homelands.
Many Trump supporters try to say that they aren’t racist. But they are supporting policies about race that are the preferred policies of so-called “racial realists” (a term that those in the more “academic” wing of white supremacy like to use to describe themselves). The central goal of this group is to prevent whites from becoming a minority in the US. They advocate, as a first step, “voluntary separation”–that is, people of color leaving the US on their own volition. Of course, they want the US government to enact policies that provide a little “nudge” in that direction: policies that make it harder for people of color to live here, from mass incarceration to shooting border crossers on sight. Under presidents both Democrat and Republican, we’ve enacted some of these horrific policies, but no one has done it at the level that Trump has done it. More than that, he encourages violence by white supremacists in a way that should turn the stomach of people with a conscience.
Here is Jared Taylor, the leader now for 20+ years of this vision of race relations in the US, speaking to NPR’s On the Media after Trump’s win in 2016:
[A ban on Muslims entering the US and a total roundup and removal of all undocumented immigrants] are very important steps, but to me the ultimate goal is to have at least a portion of the United States where whites are the recognized majority and in which their culture is recognized as the dominant culture and where they can live free from the embrace of people unlike themselves. And I believe that that can be achieved through voluntary separation. The government today is doing its best to try to force people together.
The goal of white supremacists is a white ethnostate. If Trump’s policies are creating that (and I think they are), then if you support those policies, then you support the goal of creating a white-majority America by means that violate human rights, earn us international scorn, and include acts of genocide. Racial “separatism” has as its foundation the idea that whites are superior to African Americans and Hispanics (that is, white supremacy).
If you support policies that have, as their goal, a white ethnostate, that makes you a white supremacist. Do all those who approve of Trump approve of these policies? Maybe not, but they tolerate them for other purposes.
And, I’d bet you the future of our democracy that, in fact, many of them do. White separatists are very clear–and I’m increasingly inclined to believe them–that they represent a “silent majority” of white people who want the 1964 Civil Rights Act repealed, who want the 14th Amendment (which is about both citizenship and due process) repealed, who think that Plessy v. Ferguson was a-okay and that all our troubles began with Brown v. the Board of Education–a case in which the judiciary got into the business of “social engineering.” Remember that a significant number of Trump primary voters think that the Emancipation Proclamation was a bad idea and wish that the Confederacy had won. They want an American from before the Civil War, where whites could own others and kill them when they didn’t obey white will.
Conservatives who don’t want David Duke to be their 2024 candidate need to get to work now.