Clean Up This Alt-Right Mess For Good
Last Saturday a group of about 200 people gathered in Washington D.C. for the annual meeting of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization that defines itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world” and claims the mantle “alt-right.”
At this conference, covered and exposed by The Atlantic, NPI President Richard Spencer gave a closing speech that should send alarm bells through the Republican and Conservative ranks. This is not some fake news story, not some conspiracy theory ginned up by the left to attack Republicans. This speech was the real deal. Richard Spencer and his crowd of mostly young men, many with signature mop-topped crew cut hairstyles, are racists, unabashed white supremacists and crazy as the day is long. And they love Donald Trump.
Republicans need to clean this up right away and President-Elect Donald Trump needs to lead that effort. These people are not with us, they are not “conservatives” and they must be formally ejected from our ranks. To not do so gives credibility to the lie that the Trump movement is a racist one, that Republicans are at their core racists, that our policy prescriptions are racist, and that the election of Donald Trump is an illegitimate takeover of the republic by racists.
Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid tipped the Democrats hand when he called Donald Trump a racist on the Senate floor back in September. “Donald Trump is a racist…that’s who he is,” said Reid. He later said that Trump’s election “emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.” Senator Elizabeth Warren has done the same following each announced Trump nomination.
To be fair (and don’t expect the left to be fair) Trump has not asked for, nor accepted, NPI’s support and Bryan Lanza, a transition team spokesman for the President-Elect, commented recently that “President-elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind and he was elected because he will be a leader for every American. To think otherwise is a complete misrepresentation of the movement that united Americans from all backgrounds.” Trump has worked hard to gain the support of African-Americans too, directly challenging their continued allegiance to the Democratic Party. It is furthermore completely unfair to attribute to Trump, or his supporters, the opinions of every group that claims they support him, although plenty of people on the left are doing that. The American Communist Party endorsed Hillary Clinton, but no serious politico would claim she is therefore a communist. That said, NPI is out there, and a strong statement by Trump would be useful in the continuing effort to defend and support him.
It is easy to dismiss the NPI crowd as crazy and insignificant. They use German language references and stiff-armed salutes to convey some inside joke of winked allegiance to the Nazis of old, while speaking openly about “our country” (by which they mean white people) being for us, a right that is “within the very blood of our veins as children of the sun,” and which “we” must fight for (actually “conquer or die”) against “some of the most despicable people to ever populate the planet” (i.e. journalists, leftists and people of non-European descent.) It is obvious of course that anyone who thinks approvingly of Hitler or Nazi Germany is maladjusted and, yes, deplorable. Yes, there were only 200 of them at the conference, which in a country of 319 million is hardly significant. But the election of Trump has given them a cause, and they are energized. Listening to Spencer’s speech, it is clear they see themselves as the vanguard of an epic battle for the soul of America, and Trump’s presidency is their battlefield. “The press has clearly decided to double down and wage war against the legitimacy of Trump and the existence of white America, but they are really opening up the door for us,” said Spencer to cheers of “Hail Trump.” All right thinking Americans must make it clear; this is a fringe group unwelcomed in our party, and Republicans and Conservatives reject their white supremacist ideology.
Throughout President Obama’s tenure the left has adopted a strategy of attacking Republican criticism of the President as racist. All criticism of him was illegitimate, so the story went, because it was, at its core, merely a reflection of a deep-seated hatred of America’s first black president. During the recent campaign that strategy was modified to cudgel anyone supporting Trump, and the epithet “racist” was hurled at those who support immigration enforcement, the vetting of refugees from ISIS infected regions of the world, or a strong response to the growing Islamic Jihad against the west. Post-election, we are treated to cries of “racist” against every Trump nominee, most recently Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, and Steve Bannon, former CEO of Breitbart News who Trump has named as Chief White House Strategist. Anyone who has been party to a social-media political debate knows well that all discussion ends when the leftists cry racism. To the committed leftist everything Republican, every policy, every leader, every initiative, is illegitimate because it is at its core racist. If we hope to get past this and onto real governing, we have to defeat this tactic, and these loons at NPI are not helping in that effort.
Yes, the left is to blame. Multiculturalism, political correctness, “white privilege” shaming, micro-aggression ridiculousness, categories of “protected classes” and affirmative action run amok have all contributed to a growing resentment among white working class people that somehow they are no longer part of the “acceptable” America and that their needs are of no concern to the governing elites. The more radical leftists have been open about it, celebrating what they see as the end of “white America,” waiving Mexican flags at protests, and attacking whites in general as the problem with our country. The radical, leftist, anarchist racism of many in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is obvious, yet the President and leaders of the left have lauded this movement and lectured Americans that BLM is right, in many ways, and that “we know this.” Obama himself is a non-stop apology machine bemoaning the terrible racism of the United States. Forty-plus years ago Lyndon Johnson figured out that divisive racial politics could favor Democrats, and the party has been pursuing that strategy since. Sooner or later even good people, whose sin is that they were born white, are going to say enough is enough. Sooner or later they are going to push back. Trump’s victory was in part a response to the political correctness and racial divisiveness of the left. Pushing back against leftist propaganda and race-baiting is one thing, but the kind of push back exhibited by NPI is another entirely. This is not the Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln, and this is not conservatism. If we want to get on with governing we must repudiate these crackpots and purge them from our ranks once and for all.
It is not racist to want stronger immigration enforcement. It is not racist to wish to preserve the unique cultural identity of America (which is, of course, the result of influences from cultures around the world, not just Europe). It is not racist to reject political-correctness. It is not racist to doubt the efficacy and constitutionality of some forms of affirmative action. It is not racist to vet refugees from war-torn countries, or to acknowledge that there are people of a particular religious ideology who openly espouse a desire to do our nation harm. It is not racist, in fact, to pay our bills, propose reductions in transfer payments, require able-bodied people to work as a condition of receiving public assistance, or to resist the growing presence of the federal government in every aspect of American life. These are policies, and opinions on them differ. They can and should be debated on their merits. Republicans should be the party that resists reducing all discussion to accusations of racism. In no way, therefore, should we accept, even by silence, the support of racists like the NPI or any other such group, no matter how small and insignificant they might be. Until we forthrightly reject them, the left will continue to use them as a weapon against us, and all debate will end with the charge “racist.”
Republicans and Conservatives define their ideology in many ways. They believe that liberty is best preserved by limiting the power of government, they believe in fiscal responsibility, that lower taxes and lower regulation increases prosperity for all people (of all races and ethnicities), that individuals are responsible for their own lives and their own conditions, that laws are meant to be enforced, that all life is precious and that life, liberty and property cannot be taken away without due process of law. They believe that peace is best achieved through a strong national defense, that people should be secure in their persons and their homes, that commerce, not government, creates jobs, and that those jobs are the result of the right of compact between individuals. They believe in fact-based policy making and in equal opportunity for all – not in some government enforced equal result. They reject socialism and wealth-redistribution by force. No Republican I know thinks that American rights and liberties are reserved only for whites. If they did, I would reject them and cut off all ties to them. It is time we do that with the Alt-Right.
Some might say that to even address this issue is to surrender the field, to give into to the left’s unfair strategy of demonizing Republicans on race. The instinct is to say “the hell with them.” Precedent exists however, that informs a better approach. President Kennedy made a speech to address his religion and silence bigotry. William F. Buckley, Jr. denounced the John Birch society. President Clinton had his “Sister Souljah” moment, and President Obama addressed his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright directly, if unsatisfactorily. It is time for President-Elect Trump to forthrightly reclaim the mantle of the Party of Lincoln and reject the racist populism of NPI and groups like them. How wonderful it could be to have such a strong voice simultaneously oppose the racialist voices of both the NPI and the left. Those on the right would welcome a strong statement of principle from our President-Elect. A well-crafted speech that did just that might go down in history as a critical moment in Trump’s presidency.
I have no allusions that by so doing he will silence the race-baiting that has now become standard fare within the Democratic Party. It is right to do it anyway.