If anyone ever truly believed that Donald Trump would soften his divisive campaign rhetoric, actually commit himself to being a "president of all the people" — instead of just the select, white, straight, male few he overtly favors — and perform the elusive "pivot" after winning the White House last week, their hopes were obliterated when he announced the appointment of Stephen Bannon as his top advisor. Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, a site that peddles controversial (and, as some have claimed, false and misleading) content that routinely targets racial and sexual minorities, now has the opportunity to usher the former fringe views of this alternative agenda into the mainstream. As some have alleged, the "alt-right" agenda the site glorifies is white nationalism by another name, and it's about to thoroughly infiltrate the White House.
The social media-savvy alt-right movement — which skews young and whose disciples prefer to be called "Europeanists" or "white nationalists," not "white supremacists," according to the Associated Press — has fully embraced Donald Trump and the distrust toward immigrants and disdain for minorities like Latinos and African Americans that his campaign embodied. And Bannon spent months coaxing Trump to form views that more closely aligned with his, via on-air radio chats (he pushed back on Trump's stated opinion that foreign people educated in the United States should be allowed to stay, complaining that there are too many Asian CEOs, according to The Washington Post), before officially joining the "Make America Great Again" effort as chairman in August, working as the behind-the-scenes strategist who ceded recognition as the face of the campaign to its manager, Kellyanne Conway.
And so, the national attention turned to Breitbart, which Bannon himself recently described to Mother Jones as "the platform for the alt-right." (Since his appointment to a top advisory position to the president-elect, the attention has morphed into disbelieving outrage.) And it would be more shocking if that weren't the case, considering the fact that Breitbart has categorized some of its articles under the tag "Black Crime," according to NPR, and published an article with the headline "Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage" soon after a gunman murdered nine people in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
There was once a time when it was easy for those who had even heard of the alt-right to dismiss it as vile and hateful, but hardly a threat to society as a whole, because it was so extreme and relatively obscure. That's not true anymore. The most prominent figures in the alt-right movement espouse the white nationalist view that nonwhites are inferior and even advocate for a total separation of the races. Richard Spencer, who runs a far-right think tank and is is believed to have coined the term "alt-right," is unabashed about goal of converting the United States into an "ethnostate," or a haven set aside for white people of European descent.
Twitter shut down Spencer's account, and those of others enamored with this ideology, on Wednesday, USA Today reported. In a YouTube video condemning the social media site's decision, Spencer complained of the company unleashing "execution squads across the alt-right."
But Spencer, and those like him, are, in reality, the ones seemingly looking to oppress people. More accurately, Spencer and his ilk simply want to get rid of them. Between interviews with Al Letson, host of the podcast Reveal, and others Reveal reporters, Spencer calmly and articulately explained the concept of a white ethnostate, and said that he would help people of color "go home" if this "ideal" could ever become a reality — and he said this in a one-on-one conversation with Letson, who is black:
Do you really think that we're all better together? Do you think that modern America, contemporary America, there's greater levels of trust and togetherness than we had decades ago, or that other, you know, more ethnically homogenous nations have? I don't think so. And I have to be honest. I think we actually kind of hate each other. And that is a very tragic thing. And that's a very sad thing. And we don't trust each other. And we can talk about how one day we're going to all be holding hands, or we can actually be realistic about this and we can actually look at the power of human nature and the power of race.
He's right about one thing: His bigoted, incredibly terrifying views make it incredibly hard for many, many people to trust him. But this is a man who enthusiastically supports Donald Trump, and who gave a name to the movement that Steve Bannon's website champions. That's white nationalism, however vehemently some insist that it's not, and it's egregious — more importantly, it now has a sympathetic audience in the next president of the United States.