White nationalist Richard Spencer tries to distance the ‘alt-right’ from Trump

But white supremacists are still getting a lot to be thankful for from the new administration.

Richard Spencer on the campus of Texas A&M CREDIT: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Richard Spencer on the campus of Texas A&M CREDIT: AP Photo/David J. Phillip

White supremacist groups who had hoped to curry favor and influence with the incoming Trump administration have recently found themselves disillusioned with the president-elect.

After Trump publicly disavowed them in late November, the self-styled “alt-right” was left disappointed, even though Trump refused to back down from hiring one of their own, Steve Bannon of Breitbart.

On Tuesday night, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer said on Twitter that the “alt-right” would no longer align itself with “Trump cheerleaders,” and would instead “succeed as an independent vanguard.”

So far, whatever frustrations the white nationalists may have are largely unfounded. While he hasn’t overtly endorsed ethnic cleansing, Trump has doubled down on other extreme measures. On the subject of registering and banning Muslims, he recently said, “You know my plans all along.” He hasn’t backed down on his pledge to build a wall between the United States and Mexico either, although that plan would have to clear some serious hurdles in Congress.

Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General CREDIT: AP Photos/Molly Riley
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General CREDIT: AP Photos/Molly Riley

Even more important than his campaign promises are Trump’s nominees for his cabinet. The current roster is a veritable “who’s who” of far right ideologues that stands in stark opposition to most of the economic and social gains of the last half-century. Between Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, white supremacists — and Americans as a whole — stand to see the rollback of many of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement. Sessions’ record is notably anti-immigrant and in opposition to marriage equality and voting rights, all of which aligns him with white supremacists. And Carson’s disdain for the Obama administration’s “government engineered” attempts at housing equality echoes some white nationalist talking points about fair housing efforts.

The fact is that Donald Trump need not invite Richard Spencer or any of his racist cronies to the White House for lunch for him to be on their side. His cabinet and judicial appointments over the course of his term will do more than enough to raise the profile white supremacy.