President Trump and the Alt-right

President Donald Trump on Inauguration Day

President Donald Trump on Inauguration Day

In 2010, the term “alt-right” entered the political lexicon. It referred to a movement centered on white nationalism.

A few days after President Trump’s inauguration, a TV reporter was told by white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, “Trump is a white nationalist, so to speak. He is alt-right whether he likes it or not.”  A brief review of Trump’s actions during the first 100 days of his presidency seem to validate Spencer’s comment.

Many of Trump’s policies, intentionally or unintentionally, coincide with the white nationalist agenda. He has signed executive orders to begin building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico; to withhold federal funds from “sanctuary cities” that refuse to use local police to enforce federal immigration laws; and to suspended indefinitely the entry of Syrian refugees and temporarily barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The last two orders were not upheld in court. His administration has directed federal prosecutors to bring more felony charges against detained immigrants.

Trump has rescinded the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order which requires federal contractors to show they are in compliance with federal law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people.

Some of Trump’s appointees hold views that are more radical right than mainstream.  Among them are strategist Stephen Bannon, who turned Breitbart News into the platform for the alt-right; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was denied a federal judgeship because of his racism and who was a powerful ally of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim extremist groups when he was U.S. senator from Alabama.

Sessions has indicated he will not continue the Justice Department’s work to curb discriminatory policing practices, will not attempt to reform sentencing laws for drug related crimes, and will discontinue the previous administration’s policy of reducing the federal government’s use of prisons operated by private, for-profit companies. Black Americans are disproportionately affected by these practices.

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke tweeted on January 31: “Everything I’ve been talking about for decades is coming true and the ideas I’ve fought for have won.”

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