Extreme and Emboldened: The Alt-Right celebrate Trump’s Family Separation Border Policy

Simon Murdoch - 23 06 18

On April 6 Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo instructing Attorney’s Offices on the United States’ southwest border to take a “zero-tolerance” approach towards those illegally entering the country, which resulted in the separation of children from their parents or legal guardians whilst the latter faced prosecution.

Many in the Alternative Right – which encompasses the white nationalist alt-right and Western chauvinist alt-light – have, unsurprisingly, celebrated the policy and downplayed criticism that the children and parents or guardians detained are facing a traumatic, inhumane and harmful situation. Gavin McInnes, the founder of the violent, fraternal alt-light group ‘The Proud Boys’, said on his CRTV show on Tuesday that the detainment centres look “awesome” and “a fun place to hang”. McInnes, who tweeted about the ‘White Genocide’ conspiracy theory in June 2017, told his viewers on the day previous that “I wish Trump was separating more families. I wish Trump was arresting more illegals”.

The Department of Homeland Security stated on 19 June that since early May 2018, 2,342 children had been separated. In addition to condemning the policy itself, many have criticised the detainment conditions and despite supporters of the policy correctly highlighting that early-circulated images of children being kept in caged cells were from during President Obama’s time in office, photos released by US Customs and Border Protection have indicated current conditions are similar.

President Trump signed an executive order on 20 June that appeared to reverse family separation. However, some have expressed concern over the potential leeway of the order’s caveat that adults and children would be detained together “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources”, and others have highlighted the issues that will remain even despite this order.

The Alt-Right Reacts

Alt-right mainstay VDare.com, a site that has long been whipping up hate around non-white immigration to the US, has reported on the developments in an unsurprising tone. The site’s Brenda Walker bemoaned images of clothing for children in detainment centres in an article published on 20 June with the comment that “illegal alien kiddies” were being “offered an array of free stuff, training them for a life of mooching off US citizens.”

Another VDare writer, using the pseudonym ‘Anonymous Attorney’, penned an article published on the same day entitled ‘Keep Calm and Continue Detaining Illegals’ in which they declared that “We don’t need these people in America — the parents or the children” as “Many are Central American and ethnically indigenous” which is “a powerful predictor of future failure to assimilate, burden social services and commit crime.”

Alt-right sites with a broader focus than immigration, such as Counter-Currents, used the event to combine and push multiple hateful views. One writer, using the pseudonym ‘Huntley Haverstock’, wrote an article entitled ‘Mexicans and Motherhood’, which opened by declaring:

“If ever there were an argument against giving women the vote, it’s demonstrated in the media’s attempt to hijack women’s hindbrains and override all possibility of rational thought by playing literal audio of children crying for their parents at the US-Mexico border”

Elsewhere, key alt-right figure Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-nazi website, The Daily Stormer, engaged in the site’s typical, strategically extreme commentary when he asked on 19 June if the US could “Sell These Mexican Children to the Arabs as Slaves?” Anglin declared he “could give two fucks about the alleged suffering of these criminal children” but complained that they couldn’t be deported “because of the kikes” and so considered whether there was “a way we could make a deal with the liberals to sell these bean children into slavery in Saudi Arabia?”

Others in the Alternative Right believed the events were indicative of broader threats to the West posed by migrants and a liberal-left who were welcoming to them.

In a video with stand-up comedian Dave Smith, entitled ‘Immigration Derangement Syndrome’, pseudo-intellectual alt-right Canadian vlogger Stefan Molyneux declared that migration into the southern US border was an example of “mass subsidization and importation of third-worlders”. He argued that “nobody’s asked the local populations in the West” if they wanted changes “to American demographics” and decried “the values of the people coming into the West”, He believes “there’s gonna be a lot of cultures who are gonna marry their cousins which is gonna cause a lot of birth defects and IQ issues”.

Molyneux has frequently flirted with scientific racism and in his reactions to the border crisis, this re-emerged. He warned that these migrants “generally come from lower IQ groups which means it’s going to be tougher to educate [them]” and in another video entitled ‘What Pisses Me Off About The Migrant Children Scandal’, he declared that “the low IQ of Mexican immigrants or ‘fence jumpers’ is effectively permanent […] over generations”.

Similar racist doomsaying came from an article on the alt-right site, American Renaissance, where Pat Buchanan wrote that “on the mega-issue—the Third World invasion of the West — [Trump] is riding the great wave of the future, if the West is to have a future” and claimed that criticism of the border policy demonstrated that “We are truly dealing here with an ideology of Western suicide.”

An Emboldened Movement

Despite such apocalyptic visions, many in the Alternative Right have been emboldened by the detainment policy. Buchanan’s belief in a populist, far-right wave was shared by Molyneux when he declared in his video with Dave Smith that, following the election of Trump, the Brexit referendum and the success of parties like the AfD in Germany, he was optimistic that people want to reverse the “giant government programme[s] of population replacement”.

Such optimism on their part is timely, given that the future of the Alternative Right has recently been the object of increased speculation. Even those at the head of the loosely-organised movement have expressed uncertainty over its future. Andrew Anglin suggested in March 2018 that, post-Charlottesville, it had been in decline and he advised a move away from violent street protest towards focusing on affecting culture and engaging in electoral politics. The latter of these strategies already appears to have begun in earnest.

However, another strand seems set on street demonstrations, with it being announced on 20 June that Jason Kessler, an organiser of the previous Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally, had his permit for an anniversary event approved. Evidently, many in the US far right will continue to focus on having boots on the ground. In an interview at the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in August 2017, David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, told a reporter that the rally represented:

“[…] a turning point for the people of this country; we are determined to take our country back. We’re gonna fulfil the promises of Donald Trump, that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do

Of course, most will likely try to engage in a variety of political arenas and Duke was no exception during the recent events at the US southern border, seeing it as another opportunity to push far-right narratives. He attacked the “MSM [mainstream media]” on 20 June in a tweet where he claimed they were “actively inciting vicious hatred toward Americans protecting our nations [sic] sovereignty”. Since the emergence of the Alternative Right in the US and the populist right platform of Trump, Duke has attempted to capitalise on what he sees as a mainstreaming of his white supremacist views.

Similar sentiments were shared by the hosts of the alt-right podcast, ‘The Daily Shoah’, featuring long-time Richard Spencer associate, Mike Peinovich (AKA ‘Mike Enoch’), in an episode published on their website, The Right Stuff, on 20 June. One host claimed that they were seeing some mainstream conservatives say online that the 1965 Immigration Act should be repealed. The act changed the immigration quota in the US that had previously limited migration from each country to 2% of that nation’s foreign-born population, as it stood in the 1890 census. Given the predominance of immigrants from Northern and Western Europe at the time of the census, this had meant migrants were less likely to come from other parts of the world.

Whilst they cited no source for this, the host claimed such putative examples demonstrated that the positions of the alt-right were “starting to spread into popular consciousness”. This is a judgment their co-host agreed with, adding that the policy had created “a sea-change, it’s created a boiling point which we’ve been waiting for for a long time” because “We’re a country that’s had enough of the browning of America”.

Such bold proclamations of support are not new amongst the alt-right. This a movement, after all, which has relied from the outset on inflating its influence on the Trump administration. Yet, this policy undoubtedly pandered to a core of Trump’s base whose views on immigration and race are at the extreme. Moreover, the broader Alternative Right – with its array of social media influencers and manipulators who have rubbed shoulders with mainstream political actors – have had an insidious influence on shaping this core base of Trump’s support. Whilst we must not inflate their influence, neither should we ignore it.


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