Let’s Face It: The GOP Doesn’t Just Have A Nazi Problem—They’ve Enabled It
A year ago, denouncing neo-Nazis would’ve been a no brainer for Republicans. What’s changed?
For as long as I can remember, Nazis were the ultimate bad guys to bring in when you needed a two-dimensional avatar of hate so your hero could mow down countless enemies without the need for any justification. They were, and still are, a shorthand for everything vile in humanity in its purest, most loathsome form. And with good reason. Their list of war crimes was beyond appalling, which is why so many of them were summarily executed in the aftermath. What else can you do with humans who became ravenous monsters so ready and willing to do such unspeakable things?
When my grandfathers fought Nazis, they were risking life and limb so their children and grandchildren would never have to fight them, to rid the world of their evil forever. One of them would eventually succumb to his wounds. Both of them lost family on the front lines. Of course, they knew hate could not be completely eliminated and that other incarnations of Nazism may one day rise, which is why there were so many de-Nazification efforts after the war ended, and why Nazi symbols are still illegal in Germany.
But never in their worst nightmares did they imagine that 72 years after the Third Reich fell, the governing party of a global superpower would have an honest to goodness Nazi problem on its hands. No, they’re not the first big political movement in America that had white supremacists or eugenicists in their midst who made the news with their abhorrent actions. Also too rarely mentioned until now was the America First movement, many members of which didn’t want a war with Axis Powers because they were actually fans of key parts of Nazi ideology, like white supremacy and anti-Semitism.
Since they were usually relatively fringe movements, maybe tacitly fine with enough people to make them viable, there was never enough public support to put them front and center, steering them to the fringes where they could be dismissed and eventually forgotten, like an outfit you’re now embarrassed to be seen wearing. This is why when candidate Trump catered to chanting, Nazi-saluting white supremacists at his rallies, many rushed to dismiss it as no big deal, a fringe that was reading too much into what he was saying…
The Enabler In Chief
Trump’s backers glossed over his white nationalist and supremacist talking points about non-existent civil wars with Muslims in Europe, Mexican rapists, and dog whistles about Jewish bankers as “serious but not literal,” while upper middle-class suburban Republicans laughed at how silly of a character he’s playing, sure this was all just campaign rhetoric. Even his sudden inability to denounce an endorsement from Klansman and proud Nazi David Duke was met with nothing more than confused shrugs.
Many Americans just didn’t want to see a presidential candidate in 21st century America as a ranting, xenophobic madman who didn’t want to offend Nazis because he still wanted to be invited to speak at their beer halls for a hefty fee when he inevitably lost the election. And when he did win, thanks to everything from voter suppression, to shifting demographics, to political inaction in the face of globalization, and yes, Russia’s extra push to aid his campaign for its own purposes, many didn’t want to believe an actual xenophobe full of hate and bile could be president. So we kept up the denial.
Yet the events of Charlottesville and his use of the kind of moral relativism his own party decried for the last decade, saying that he condemns violence “on many sides” in response, have made his Nazi-coddling views really hard to ignore. During a campaign and presidency not short on insults towards everyone from foreigners, to Mexicans and Muslims, to TV hosts he didn’t like by name, the only two groups he refuses to criticize are Russian senior government officials, and neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
If doesn’t matter if he agrees with neo-Nazis — though based on his history as a landlord and his father’s involvement in the KKK, it’s probably not much of a stretch to make the case that he does — or if he’s just pandering to them, much like it doesn’t matter why you might be marching in the streets and holding a swastika flag while chanting Nazi slogans about shooting blacks and shoving Jews in ovens. So what if your heart isn’t in it? At the end of the day, you’re still marching with neo-Nazis and helping their cause.
Not only that, he cut funding to the counter-extremism program targeting white supremacist groups, no doubt under the advice of Sebastian Gorka, who can’t get a security clearance due to his ties to a Nazi group in Hungary and pretty much mail-order PhD, yet gets paid $155,000 per year to go on TV as a “counterterrorism expert” and defend Trump’s most indefensible words and actions. Just days before the rally he lashed out at the media for treating white supremacists as an actual threat and insisting they were not even a blip on the radar compared to ISIS and al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, actual terrorism experts at the FBI and DHS have been warning of ramped up neo-Nazi activity and urging law enforcement to be on alert, noting they were responsible for more death than any other terrorist group that has carried out attacks in America. Independent researchers confirmed the conclusions, noting that domestic terrorism by neo-Nazis outnumbered Islamic terrorism 2 to 1. How exactly is Gorka a world-leading expert in all things terrorism related, yet has been fired from the FBI for teaching wildly inaccurate content and is bested with just a simple Google search tracking actual incidents and attacks?
Time to face facts. Our president isn’t just turning a blind eye to neo-Nazis, he’s enabling them. His impotent all-sides-are-guilty statement has been praised by them as a sort of permission slip to keep doing what they’re doing, with reviews like “really good” and “he loves us all,” with special attention paid to his stubborn refusal to even acknowledge reporters trying to ask him to disavow the KKK, the alt right, and neo-Nazi groups. They’re watching and listening to him very carefully and they absolutely love what they see and hear.
It seems like the right, giddy at his triumph, is finally starting to realize the cost of selling its soul to the Cult of MAGA, but the full implications haven’t hit yet. According to background quotes, a lot of Republicans are “wincing in private” at Trump’s response but don’t feel bold enough to say it in public in a stunning act of cowardice. They’d rather not lose the neo-Nazi and white supremacist votes than do what’s morally right.
The ones who did speak out to criticize Trump’s whataboutism managed to elicit a response which claimed the president didn’t want to mention those hate groups by name. Which is asinine because if this was the case, why did he feel the need to condemn “many sides” instead of all white supremacist groups in general? They may as well have put out a memo saying “could we just pretend he totally said what you wanted him to say?” and it would have made for just as powerful of a “denunciation” as he already made.
Finally, after two days of ever-mounting pressure, Trump read a statement in which he called white supremacists and the KKK evil and said anyone who causes violence in the name of racism would face justice. If he read it on the day of the march, his remarks could have been identical because he had all the information he needed to make them. So it should be noted that outrage across the media spectrum, from MSNBC to Fox News is what it took for him to finally denounce white supremacists, and that two noted ones are still on his payroll as chief strategists and advisers, along with the aforementioned Nazi-affiliated, self-proclaimed terrorism expert.
That very fact, that it’s actually costly for many Republicans to denounce marching, murderous neo-Nazis using terrorist tactics on loan from al Qaeda and ISIS, should be one hell of a wake-up call for the nation. So should the fact that the police in Charlottesville didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to control the situation, especially as the Fraternal Order of Police very warmly endorsed Trump, cheering his speeches that the police has been handcuffed when dealing with protesters. Here were Nazis marching down the street, screaming racist chants. No one would’ve taken issue with anything they did save for the Nazis in question.
When Republicans Try To Raise The South (And Swastikas) Again
Denouncing neo-Nazis should be the easiest and by far least controversial decision for any politician in America today. It should’ve taken them all of a minute to fire off a fiery condemnation to cheers from their supporters and nods of agreement from their opponents. But several Republican big wigs were having photo ops with the marchers before the gatherings at UVA and Charlottesville, and praising the Confederacy, which was founded on white supremacy and slavery, as its founding charters very clearly spelled out in black and white, claiming memorials to slave owners and secessionists, was a proud heritage to be respected and defended.
Looks like Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who organized the hate march, met with Congressman @RepTomGarrett (R-obviously) not long ago
Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart even held public events with Jason Kessler, the organizer of the march, and said he refused to believe that the event had anything to do with white nationalism but “two groups duking it out on the street.” The second group? According to his furious tirade that steered clear of even trying to criticize Nazis, it’s unhinged violent leftists, who are also apparently fascists, following Obama’s and Lynch’s orders for creating chaos and undermining the conservative cause. His only concern seemed to be the possibility that conservative speech would be “stifled” in the aftermath of bloodthirsty neo-Nazis chanting Trump’s name.
This was a common line of Nazi apologetics from the right: pretend that the marchers weren’t actually Nazis and that any violence from them was just a response to provocation from the apparently omnipresent, omnipotent, and sinister Antifa and Black Lives Matter groups. Should those fail, they would trot out that Republican hobby horse of blaming Obama for what Fox News said he did, rather than what he actually did during BLM protests and claim that condemning Nazis was hypocritical coming from the left.
All three attempts at defense fall apart under the slightest bit of scrutiny, but none as spectacularly as claiming that the neo-Nazis were just “disaffected young nationalists.” You know who else was a group of young disaffected men really into nationalism? The Nazis. Nationalism is right in the name of their movement and they were composed primarily of angry working class young men who wanted to redeem their place in the world after World War One and its aftermath. Today’s neo-Nazis just claim that free trade and more minorities having a public voice is a genocide against them.
Same goes for blaming counter-protesters for the violence. Not only does every counter-protest for goose-stepping Nazis magically become “an Antifa psyop” or “BLM provocation,” but even if this was true, simple kindergarten logic should dictate that just because someone did something they weren’t supposed to, you’re not magically in the clear either. Soviets and Allies not always behaving ethically or morally in the fog of war didn’t save the Nazis in Nuremberg from the gallows. Blaming people incensed that neo-Nazis are supposed to now be a legitimate political group in America allowed to steal from ISIS’s playbook won’t save Charlottesville’s Nazis either.
Finally, the idea that just because Obama said he understood that BLM had some grievances against how certain police departments operate he didn’t condemn the violence or even incited it, was a shameless, disgusting lie that Fox News played on a loop. In fact, he said “nothing justifies violence against law enforcement” in statements made right after the incidents. This, to the cadre of propagandists at Fox and on right wing blogs, was taking sides in the protests and inciting unrest against police officers. And that’s why this talking point is merely attempted by Nazi-sympathizers on tweets criticizing Trump’s feeble response and is then quickly abandoned.
Right-Wing Gaslighting: How To Profit From White Fear
Speaking of Fox News and right wing blogs, we couldn’t have ended up where we are without their help. They specialize in conservative victimhood and telling the right they’re being prosecuted, muzzled, and driven into a demographic dead end by evil liberals, Jews, and other minorities. Social media groups catering to the right post news of fabricated terrorist attacks, hate crimes, and riots that never happened, and encouraging the exact kind of violence against protesters we saw in Charlottesville. The moment they’re not immediately getting their way, they’re consoled as oppressed voices of the proper, moral, righteous America.
That’s been the linchpin of the Southern Strategy for the GOP, to highlight and capitalize on racial tensions and paint the white working class and their employers as under siege from hordes of angry minorities who decided to take revenge for injustices against them supposedly made up or exaggerated by those leading their fight for equal rights. And when that failed, they had some distant enemy with America in its sights, ready to start the next world war and declared that only a Republican could save the nation from the next Nazi Germany massing its armies to subjugate the free world.
It wasn’t long ago when the right compared everything it didn’t like to Nazis and Hitler, from Obama’s rise to the presidency, to Iran’s quest for nukes. In their passionate op-eds and social media posts they claimed that if they were the ones in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, things would’ve gone differently as they unleashed their righteous fury on those genocidal monsters. They’d risk everything to stop the rise of the Third Reich, exactly like their grandparents and parents did in the war they romanticize on a regular basis.
Apparently, that was only in fiction because faced with Nazis marching down their streets, they’re either awfully quiet or trying to downplay the vileness of what we just saw, oddly careful not to go after them too hard and justify their rage and violence. Quite a few of their talking points either came from or were quickly echoed by Breitbart, Steve Bannon’s project to turn nihilist neo-Nazi trolls from the bowels of the web they like to call Kekistan, into the future of American conservatism alongside Reddit’s /r/The_Donald.
Now, this dark sewer of the internet is running popular right-wing blogs and is busy poisoning Celtic and Nordic symbols along with common hand signs in their never-ending quest to troll “normies” and profit off their misery. And thanks to Bannon, this is where the Republican Party is heading, that’s their new base: internet edgelords full of misery and venom, alternating between a sociopathic zeal for trolling anyone left of neo-Nazis to wallowing in their victimhood in the form of not being able to use racial slurs or having to put up with minorities not kowtowing to them in fear.
Try to denounce them and you’ll face a deluge of social media insults, then Breitbart-driven hit jobs by “Kekistani” zealots and Russian bots who quickly join in the fray. Displeasing internet skinheads should not be a concern for the Republican Party or any major political party but yet here we are, even after a year of warnings from people who have dealt with them, seen exactly how they work, and ventured into their dens. Denial has turned a disturbing swath of the GOP into neo-Nazi puppets and we’re seeing the fruits of this in the real world as they goose-step through “post-racial America.”
And this brings us to an inescapable conclusion. After his non-statement on one of his fellow citizens being murdered by Nazis chanting his name while carrying swastikas, Donald Trump has shown us that he’s far better suited as the Grand Sultan of Kekistan than the leader of the free world, and that the party he hijacked needs to do a whole lot of soul-searching if the best many of them can do when neo-Nazi terrorists kill and injure the citizens they are elected to represent is some heavily implied wincing in private as they cower in fear from bottom-feeding internet trolls and Twitter bots.