White Nationalists and their Agenda Infiltrate the Mainstream

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Air date: 
Fri, 06/16/2017 - 8:00am to 9:00am
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Guest host Linda Olson-Osterlund welcomes the Southern Poverty Law Center's Ryan Lenz to continue the conversation on the rise in hate crimes across the nation.

Ryan Lenz is the Senior Writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project and editor of its Hatewatch blog. Before joining the SPLC in 2010, Lenz was a regional reporter for the Associated Press and an Iraq war correspondent for the wire service from 2005 to 2008. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

The Intelligence Report is the nation's preeminent periodical monitoring the radical right in the U.S.

Lenz wrote in Salon:

"As he spoke to the nation on Jan. 20, Donald Trump reminded white nationalists why they had invested so much hope in him as their champion and redeemer.  He painted a bleak picture of America: a nation of crumbling, third-world infrastructure, “rusted-out factories,” leaky borders, inner cities wallowing in poverty, a depleted military and a feckless political class that prospered as the country fell into ruin.  He promised an “America First” policy that would turn it all around. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” Trump declared.  The inaugural address echoed the themes of a campaign that had electrified the white nationalist — or “alt-right” — movement with its promise to stop all Muslim travelers at the border and deport millions of undocumented immigrants – killers and “rapists,” Trump called them.  On Jan. 31, former Klan leader David Duke tweeted: “everything I’ve been talking about for decades is coming true and the ideas I’ve fought for have won.”

The extremist advisers

Along with an array of conservative billionaires, Trump installed a handful of advisers who are closer to the radical right than to the mainstream. They include:

  • Chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who bragged about turning Breitbart News into “the platform for the alt-right.”
  • Retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, a conspiracy theory peddler with close ties to Muslim-bashing extremists. Named national security adviser, he was fired less than a month into office, ostensibly for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.
  • Stephen Miller, a former right hand to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions and a one-time acolyte of anti-Muslim extremist David Horowitz. From his previous perch in the Senate, the senior presidential adviser served as a bridge to Breitbart and a key player in helping defeat efforts to reform the immigration system.
  • Sebastian Gorka, a terrorism adviser who is associated with neo-Nazis in his native Hungary. Gorka has been aligned with anti-Muslim extremist groups since immigrating to the United States in 2008.

Bannon, in particular, embodied the hopes and dreams of white nationalists with his blow-it-all-up style and apocalyptic worldview. He thrilled them with his hyper-nationalism, his firebrand attacks on “globalists” and Republican “cucks,” and his stated desire to “deconstruct” the “administrative state.”"

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