"A Field Guide To Identifying A White Nationalist"
“It becomes one of those ‘if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck’ kind of things.”
By Dana Liebelson, Staff Reporter, The Huffington Post, and Matt Ferner, National Reporter, The Huffington Post, November 18, 2016
WASHINGTON ― White nationalists tried repeatedly throughout the presidential campaign to sanitize their language to appeal to mainstream voters as they threw their efforts behind electing Donald Trump.
White nationalists who tried to play down their white nationalism won a victory this week as the president-elect not only chose Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon as his chief strategist ― a man who heads a website that regularly airs white nationalist viewpoints ― but many news outlets also are reluctant to use the specific label “white nationalist,” instead calling Bannon a “flame-throwing outsider” and a “nationalist media mogul.”
Of course, calling a person a “white nationalist” who hasn’t self-identified as one is somewhat fraught. In Bannon’s case, the website he runs peddles racist and misogynist conspiracy theories and is a go-to resource for white nationalists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Whether or not Bannon personally holds white nationalist views, it’s indisputable that his website has perpetuated them.
As David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University in Michigan, said, it’s useful to look at an individual’s statements, associations and sentiments. “It becomes one of those ‘if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck’ kind of things,” he said.
The Trump campaign denies allegations that Bannon is a white nationalist or a part of the so-called alt-right, the movement’s latest preferred moniker. “Nothing could be further from the truth, and it’s irresponsible for anyone to even make such a baseless accusation,” said Jason Miller, communications director for Trump’s transition team, in a statement provided to The Huffington Post.
Bannon in July told Mother Jones: “We’re the platform for the alt-right” and that the site espoused a “nationalist” philosophy but argued that its attraction for racists was incidental.
It’s helpful first to parse the various terms that have been thrown around. “White supremacy” refers to a “full-fledged ideology” that asserts whites should have dominance over people of other races, according to the Anti-Defamation League. “White separatists” promote physical separation of races. A “white nationalist” emphasizes that countries or regions should be defined by a white racial identity. Other ideologies under the nationalist umbrella ― Neo-Nazi groups, for example ― openly praise Adolf Hitler. The founder of Aryan Nations, Richard Butler, wanted an all-white homeland in the Pacific Northwest.
But delving into the specifics of each of these subgroups can sometimes miss the point. “Very often it’s useful to call people what they are: racists or white supremacists,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Complicating these distinctions even further, white nationalist groups often use euphemisms to make their ideas appear less repugnant. Jared Taylor, publisher of American Renaissance, a website that regularly features racist screeds, says that he is not a white supremacist, a Nazi or a racist. “A ‘racist’... is always considered to be a moral inferior,” he wrote in an email. “I totally reject that view.”
Terms that Taylor and others who hold similar views prefer: “race realist” or “white advocate.” They may also refer to themselves as advocating for “Western civilization” or “European heritage,” or say they are merely combating white “dispossession” or the “administrative removal of Americans of European extraction.”
They also love the term “alt-right,” which SPLC defines as “a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals” who believe white identity is under attack. The term is merely “a relabeling of white nationalism for the digital age,” said Potok. “It’s a little more pitched to young people,” he said. (Millennials may be well aware that being seen as a racist is a bad thing, even if they embrace racist viewpoints.)
Breitbart has published a glowing guide to the alt-right, suggesting its members are different from “old-school racist skinheads” because they are “a much smarter group.” In a post earlier this year, a headline described political analyst Bill Kristol as a “renegade Jew.” Another article published last year, weeks after the mass shooting at a black church in South Carolina, celebrated the Confederate flag, a symbol embraced by racists.
“I am very frustrated by the normalization of these ideas and the notion that they are finding acceptability in mainstream discourse,” said Ted Shaw, a law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. He noted that it should be “terrifying” that the alt-right has found legitimacy in Bannon’s appointment to serve in the White House.
Taylor strongly denies that Bannon is a white nationalist. But many self-identified individual white nationalists told The Huffington Post that they are excited that he was picked to serve on Trump’s team.
The Trump campaign has sought to distance Bannon from the website’s posts that traffic in white nationalism. “Here’s what folks need to know about Steve Bannon: He’s worked with people of all backgrounds and has embraced diversity throughout his career,” Miller said Thursday.
In response to a HuffPost inquiry, the Trump transition team also referred to a statement from Republican Jewish Coalition board member Bernie Marcus, who defended Bannon’s appointment and said the charges against him are false.
Earlier this week, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told the “Today” show that Bannon is “not as scary” as he has been portrayed and that the “charges are very unfair.”
But anti-extremist groups, such as the SPLC and the Anti-Defamation League, disagree with the Trump camp’s characterization of Bannon. “[He] was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill,” SPLC said on Twitter this week. Breitbart News is “the premier website of the alt-right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists,” said ADL.
After Bannon’s appointment, progressive commentators criticized some news organizations for using euphemisms to describe him. They argued that not explicitly referring to him as a “white nationalist” ignored or downplayed Bannon’s role in promoting extremist rhetoric.
Conservative media organizations also defended Bannon, calling him a “brilliant strategist” and “a patriot.” They said the allegations that he promotes white nationalism are “smears” and “slander,” and claimed Breitbart’s publications should not be linked to Bannon because that content is merely “designed to attract audiences.”
But Cheryl Harris, a UCLA law professor who focuses on civil rights and race, said, “These debates obfuscate the issue with respect to Bannon, which is whether Bannon self-consciously and explicitly created a platform for white nationalism to flourish, and it seems that he did, proudly and by his own admission.
“There is also a great danger of normalization as Trump takes state power. Many will be reluctant to call out the president for racism, either in his tactics or his policy.”
Jim Crow Museum founder Pilgrim said he has “no doubt” that as time goes on, alt-right adherents will be seen as promoting white nationalism, even if they’re not dressed up like neo-Nazis or wearing Klan hoods. “We’ve allowed someone, and I’m not sure whom,” to restrict the use of the term “white supremacist” “to only the guy in the racist uniform.”
Demonstrators marched to the site of the annual “Become Who We Are” conference, a key gathering of the so-called alt-right, in Washington, on Saturday. Al Drago/The New York Times.
"White nationalists converge on capital to celebrate ‘an awakening’"
By Alan Rappeport and Noah Weiland, New York Times, November 20, 2016
WASHINGTON — For years, they have lurked in the web’s dark corners, masking themselves with cartoon images and writing screeds about the demise of white culture under ominous pseudonyms. But on Saturday, in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprising election victory, hundreds of his extremist supporters converged on the capital to herald a moment of political ascendance that many had thought to be far away.
In the bowels of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, three blocks from the White House, members of the alt-right movement gathered for what they had supposed would be an autopsy to plot their grim future under a Clinton administration. Instead, they celebrated the unexpected march of their white nationalist ideas toward the mainstream, portraying Trump’s win as validation that the tide had turned in their fight to preserve white culture.
“It’s been an awakening,” Richard B. Spencer, who is credited with coining the term alt-right, said at the gathering Saturday. “This is what a successful movement looks like.”
The movement has been critical of politicians of all stripes for promoting diversity, immigration and perceived political correctness. Its critics call it a rebranded version of the Ku Klux Klan, promoting anti-Semitism, violence and suppression of minorities.
Intellectual leaders of the movement argue that they are merely trying to realize their desire for a white “ethno-state” where they can be left alone. Trump, with his divisive language about immigrants and Muslims, has given them hope that these dreams can come true.
“I never thought we would get to this point, any point close to mainstream acceptance or political influence,” said Matt Forney, 28, of Chicago. “The culture is moving more in my direction.”
Emboldened by Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party, Forney said he expected people openly associated with the white nationalist movement to run as candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. The rise of populism and the decline of political correctness, he said, presented a rare opportunity.
Robert Taylor, 29, described the conference as a “victory party.” Taylor was a committed libertarian, he said, working for Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns and even moving to New Hampshire for a project organized by the like-minded. If Hillary Clinton had won the election, he said, he would have advocated secession.
“I thought I had all the right answers and had read all the right books,” he said. “I heard about the alt-right movement, and it just lit a fire in me.”
Taylor said that with Trump, “we have breathing room; we have a little time.”
Trump has shrugged off any suggestions that he has connections to the alt-right. But his hard-line views on immigration and his “America First” foreign policy have captivated members of the movement. His appointment as chief strategist of Stephen K. Bannon, who has called Breitbart News, the website he long ran, a platform for the alt-right, has reinforced the notion that the incoming president is on their side.
The white nationalist embrace of Trump was on display Saturday at the gathering, which was the annual conference of a group called the National Policy Institute. Guests nibbled on chicken piccata while discussing ways to reorient America’s demographics. Many of the attendees, who were mostly white men, wore red “Make America Great Again” hats. T-shirts emblazoned with Trump’s face sold quickly.
While the enthusiasm inside the conference was evident, the resistance to the alt-right remains powerful. A recent surge in hate crimes and reports of verbal and physical assaults on minorities are putting new pressure on groups that promote racism.
Many sites will not host their events, and some of their members have had their social media accounts suspended in response to vicious trolling of Jewish journalists and critics of Trump. A large group of protesters marched around the Ronald Reagan Building, which, as a federal property, could not decline to host the conference.
“These people have their right to freedom of speech, but the values they represent don’t represent America,” said Jon Pattee, 48, of Mount Rainier, Maryland. “I characterize them as the shirt-and-tie arm of the white supremacist-nationalist movement.”
Republicans who are more mainstream are also unlikely to accept the movement’s more provocative ideas.
“They have to grow up and start shedding some of their more controversial elements,” said Erick Erickson, a conservative blogger and commentator who has been critical of Trump. “I don’t think they will ever be accepted wholeheartedly in the Republican Party.”
Nonetheless, alt-right leaders said they planned to use their newfound influence to pressure Trump to take more “heretical” policy positions, such as a moratorium on net immigration for the next 50 years.
“In the long run, people like Bannon and Trump will be open to the clarity of our ideas,” said Jared Taylor, the founder of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance.
Like Trump, Spencer, the alt-right leader, derided NATO as “clumsy and ineffective.” He called for friendlier relations with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and for the deportation of undocumented immigrants, drawing chants of “build that wall.”
“I think moving forward the alt-right as an intellectual vanguard can complete Trump,” Spencer said. “We can be the ones who are out front, who are thinking about things that he hasn’t grasped yet.”
Although alt-right leaders say they want to become more politically active, it remains unclear how they will react to being more closely aligned to the establishment or what they will do if Trump starts to moderate his views. His outreach to African-Americans during the final months of the campaign angered some of his white nationalist followers, raising concerns among them that Trump might not be so different after all.
“It’s a fleeting moment of optimism,” said Al Stankard, 29, of Baltimore, who goes by the pseudonym Haarlen Venison online and was handing out his novel, “Death to the World.”
Stankard said he thought it was unlikely Trump would be able to do things like end affirmative action, even though he believes that the president-elect sympathizes with the plight of “white racists.” He predicted that Trump might disappoint white nationalists in the same way that President Barack Obama disappointed some of his supporters by failing to bring postracial unity to the nation.
“These are semi-delusional fantasies,” Stankard said.
“Amal Clooney Says Trump’s Ideas ‘Are Violations of International Human Rights Law’”
The human rights lawyer recently spoke at a women’s conference in Texas.
By Cavan Sieczkowski, Deputy Director, News & Analytics, The Huffington Post, November 18, 2016
Amal Clooney did not mince words when taking on President-elect Donald Trump’s proposals at a recent women’s conference.
The international human rights lawyer spoke at the Texas Conference for Women in Austin Tuesday in front of a crowd of 7,000, and spoke out against Trump’s plans for the Muslim community.
“[Trump’s comments] that there should be a religious test imposed on entering the U.S. or the fact that there should be state-sponsored torture or that families of suspected terrorists should all be killed — all of those things are violations of international human rights law and the values that underlie that,” she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Clooney ― who was a Hillary Clinton supporter and challenged Trump’s rhetoric for months before the election ― did, however, praise his plans for combating ISIS.
“We have to hope for the best,” she said. “The president-elect has said that fighting ISIS is actually a priority … so it may be that there can be progress, and obviously everyone has to respect the outcome of the democratic process here, and we have to hope for the best.”
Clooney has been fighting against ISIS on behalf of the terror group’s Yazidi victims for the crimes of genocide, human trafficking and sex abuse.
From: Michael Brune, Sierra Club
To: Jonathan A. Melle
Re: Take action: Stop hate in the White House
Date: November 20, 2016
President-elect Trump is naming some truly terrifying people to advise him and fill his cabinet. Their extreme positions and climate denial are dangerous not just to the environment but to our country in general and millions of Americans.
We must speak out immediately. If President-elect Trump wants to uphold his word to bring the country together and be a president for all Americans, then he should publicly rebuke these advisers and declare that he will not listen to anyone that propagates hate or science-denial. Anything less is unacceptable.
Here are just a few:
Stephen Bannon, CEO of the extreme right-wing conservative outlet Breitbart News, is known for his record of sickening and dangerous attacks against women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Jews, and Muslims -- in addition to fueling climate denialism. President-elect Donald Trump's reckless decision to appoint him as his Chief Strategist in the White House is a threat to the safety and prosperity of all Americans.
President-elect Trump has also named noted climate denier and fossil fuel hack Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute as the head of his EPA transition team. That means Ebell, who has called climate change "nothing to worry about" and has ZERO scientific training will be in charge of choosing the head of the EPA and local EPA regional offices. Ebell actually wrote an article in Forbes called, "Love Global Warming," where he said warmer temperatures would make colder regions more inhabitable. And for the rest? "...the higher temperatures are killing people who are likely to die soon anyway."
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was rejected by a Republican Senate in 1986 for a federal judgeship because of allegations he had used racial slurs, called civil rights groups like the NAACP "un-American," and stated on the record that as of the 1980s "the fundamental legal barriers to minorities had been knocked down, and that in many areas blacks dominate the political area, and that when the civil rights organizations or the ACLU participate in asking for things beyond what they are justified in asking, they do more harm than good."
He would be in charge of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and Voting Rights Section, allowing him to defang the agency to allow for more local voter suppression. He has voted and spoken out against immigration, equal pay, and confirmation of numerous nominees who he claims have "the ACLU gene." He would also be given the power to investigate, arrest, and harass members of Black Lives Matter, protesters against pipelines like DAPL and KXL, and other environmental groups.
Sessions' environmental voting record also shows he cannot be trusted to stand up for laws that protect clean air, water, communities, public health, or the climate.
Hate group leader Frank Gaffney is a noted Islamophobe, unrepentant bigot, and conspiracy theorist who has reportedly been advising the Trump administration's transition team. Gaffney is the head of the Center for Security Policy, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. With news that the Trump team may already be planning to create a "Muslim registry" of Americans, the prospect of someone like Gaffney in a position of influence is an urgent threat to our democracy and basic human decency.
Send your representatives in Congress a message now: there's absolutely no place for hate and dangerous science denial in our government.
Thank you for speaking out against hate,
Executive Director, Sierra Club
Richard B. Spencer, a leader of the alt-right movement, spoke at a conference in Washington on Saturday. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times
“Alt-Right Exults in Donald Trump’s Election With a Salute: ‘Heil Victory’”
By Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times, November 20, 2016
WASHINGTON — By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the alt-right movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless.
In 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions in a federal building named after Ronald Reagan a few blocks from the White House, a succession of speakers had laid out a harsh vision for the future, but had denounced violence and said that Hispanic citizens and black Americans had nothing to fear. Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.
But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”
As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.
These are exultant times for the alt-right movement, which was little known until this year, when it embraced Mr. Trump’s campaign and he appeared to embrace it back. He chose as his campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon, the media executive who ran the alt-right’s most prominent platform, Breitbart News, and then named him as a senior adviser and chief strategist.
Now the movement’s leaders hope to have, if not a seat at the table, at least the ear of the Trump White House.
While many of its racist views are well known — that President Obama is, or may as well be, of foreign birth; that the Black Lives Matter movement is another name for black race rioters; that even the American-born children of undocumented Hispanic immigrants should be deported — the alt-right has been difficult to define. Is it a name for right-wing political provocateurs in the internet era? Or is it a political movement defined by xenophobia and a dislike for political correctness?
At the conference on Saturday, Mr. Spencer, who said he had coined the term, defined the alt-right as a movement with white identity as its core idea.
“We’ve crossed the Rubicon in terms of recognition,” Mr. Spencer said at the conference, which was sponsored by his organization, the National Policy Institute.
And while much of the discourse at the conference was overtly racist and demeaning toward minorities, for much of the day the sentiments were expressed in ways that seemed intended to not sound too menacing. The focus was on how whites were marginalized and beleaguered.
One speaker, Peter Brimelow, the founder of Vdare.com, an anti-immigration website, asked why, if Hispanics had the National Council of La Raza and Jews had the Anti-Defamation League, whites were reluctant to organize for their rights. Some speakers made an effort to distance themselves from more notorious white power organizations like the Ku Klux Klan.
But as the night wore on and most reporters had gone home, the language changed.
Mr. Spencer’s after-dinner speech began with a polemic against the “mainstream media,” before he briefly paused. “Perhaps we should refer to them in the original German?” he said.
The audience immediately screamed back, “Lügenpresse,” reviving a Nazi-era word that means “lying press.”
Mr. Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of Mr. Trump throughout the campaign in order to protect Jewish interests. He mused about the political commentators who gave Mr. Trump little chance of winning.
“One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” he said, referring to a Jewish fable about the golem, a clay giant that a rabbi brings to life to protect the Jews.
Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Spencer said, was “the victory of will,” a phrase that echoed the title of the most famous Nazi-era propaganda film. But Mr. Spencer then mentioned, with a smile, Theodor Herzl, the Zionist leader who advocated a Jewish homeland in Israel, quoting his famous pronouncement, “If we will it, it is no dream.”
The United States today, Mr. Spencer said, had been turned into “a sick, corrupted society.” But it was not supposed to be that way.
“America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Mr. Spencer thundered. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
But the white race, he added, is “a race that travels forever on an upward path.”
“To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror,” he said.
More members of the audience were on their feet as Mr. Spencer described the choice facing white people as to “conquer or die.”
Of other races, Mr. Spencer said: “We don’t exploit other groups, we don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around.”
The ties between the alt-right movement and the Trump team are difficult to define, even by members of the alt-right.
Mr. Bannon was the chief executive of Breitbart, an online news organization that has fed the lie that Mr. Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim. As recently as last year, Breitbart published an op-ed article urging that “every tree, every rooftop, every picket fence, every telegraph pole in the South should be festooned with the Confederate battle flag.”
Mr. Bannon told Mother Jones this year that Breitbart was now “the platform for the alt-right.”
But in an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bannon said that the alt-right was only “a tiny part” of the viewpoint represented on Breitbart.
“Our definition of the alt-right is younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist, terribly anti-establishment,” he told The Journal, adding that the alt-right had “some racial and anti-Semitic overtones.”
When asked about Mr. Bannon, the conference’s speakers said that they might have shaken his hand on occasion, but that they did not know him well.
Mr. Brimelow said that he had met “Mr. Bannon once, earlier this summer, before he ascended to Olympus.” He said he had told Mr. Bannon that he was doing great work at Breitbart. “He agreed,” Mr. Brimelow recalled to the audience.
As for Mr. Trump, Mr. Brimelow said he had met him about 30 years ago at a “conservative affinity meeting” in Manhattan. But that was it.
“Trump and Steve Bannon are not alt-right people,” Mr. Brimelow said, adding that they had opportunistically seized on two issues that the alt-right cares most about — stopping immigration and fighting political correctness — and used them to mobilize white voters.
Mr. Spencer said that while he did not think the president-elect should be considered alt-right, “I do think we have a psychic connection, or you can say a deeper connection, with Donald Trump in a way that we simply do not have with most Republicans.”
White identity, he said, is at the core of both the alt-right movement and the Trump movement, even if most voters for Mr. Trump “aren’t willing to articulate it as such.”
At various points, he and other speakers outlined where they differed from Mr. Trump. They see him as too beholden to Israel. They do not see any reason to start a trade war with China, and they are not necessarily opposed to the Iran nuclear deal.
For them, immigration is the most potent mobilizing issue, less for economic reasons than because of the prospect that white Americans will someday represent less than half of the population of the country.
For the alt-right, the most exciting thing about Mr. Trump was that he built a campaign around the issues that mattered most to them, and that white people had voted for him in numbers that left the political establishments of both parties stunned. Now, Mr. Spencer said, it is up to the alt-right to formulate the ideas and policies to guide the new administration.
“I think we can be the ones out in front, thinking about those things he hasn’t quite grasped yet, who are putting forward policies,” Mr. Spencer said, that “have a realistic chance of being implemented.”
“‘White Nationalism,’ Explained”
By Amanda Taub, The New York Times, November 21, 2016
White nationalism, he (Eric Kaufmann, a professor of politics at Birkbeck University in London) said, is the belief that national identity should be built around white ethnicity, and that white people should therefore maintain both a demographic majority and dominance of the nation’s culture and public life.
White nationalism places the interests of white people over those of other racial groups. White supremacists and white nationalists both believe that racial discrimination should be incorporated into law and policy.
White supremacy is based on a racist belief that white people are innately superior to people of other races; white nationalism is about maintaining political and economic dominance, not just a numerical majority or cultural hegemony.
The white nationalist movement argues that the United States should protect its white majority by sharply limiting immigration, and perhaps even by compelling nonwhite citizens to leave.
Although the alt-right (see Stephen K. Bannon) is ideologically broader than white nationalism — it also includes neoreactionaries, monarchists, and meme-loving internet trolls — white nationalism makes up a significant part of its appeal.
In a 2015 radio interview that was resurfaced this week by The Washington Post, Mr. Bannon opposed even highly skilled immigration, implying he believed it was a threat to American culture. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think...” he said, trailing off midsentence before continuing a moment later, “a country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”
Richard Spencer, who runs the website AlternativeRight.com, is also the director of the National Policy Institute, an organization that says it is devoted to protecting the “heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”
Mr. Spencer argues that immigration and multiculturalism are threats to America’s white population, and has said his ideal is a white “ethno-state.” He has avoided discussing the details of how this might be achieved, saying it is still just a “dream,” but has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to remove nonwhite people from American soil.
From: George Takei
To: Jonathan Melle
Re: Japanese internment
Date: November 21, 2016
Just a few weeks after my fifth birthday, in the spring of 1942, my parents got my younger brother, my baby sister, and me up very early, hurriedly dressed us, and quickly started to pack.
When my brother and I looked out the window of our living room, we saw two soldiers marching up the driveway, bayonets fixed to their rifles. They banged on our front door and ordered us out of the house. We could take only what we could carry with us.
We were loaded on to train cars with other Japanese-American families, with guards stationed at both ends of each car as though we were criminals, and sent two-thirds of the way across the country to an internment camp in the swamps of Arkansas.
For nearly three years, barbed wire, sentry towers, and armed guards marked home. Mass showers, lousy meals in crowded mess halls, and a searchlight following me as I ran from our barracks to the latrine in the middle of the night -- in case I was trying to escape -- became normal.
So when I hear Donald Trump's transition advisors talk about building a registry of Muslims and his surrogates using the internment of Japanese-Americans as their model, I am outraged -- because I remember the tears streaming down my mother's face as we were torn away from our home. And I am resolved to raise my voice and say, loudly and clearly, that this is not who we are.
My mother was born in Sacramento, my father grew up in San Francisco, and my siblings and I were born in Los Angeles. We were American citizens, as proud of our country as we were of our Japanese heritage. But in the fear and mass hysteria of wartime, none of that mattered. When our government allowed hatred and racism to overtake our values, nothing else mattered.
We cannot allow our country to be led down that dark path ever again.
Jonathan, I am committed to fighting for our values, our democracy, and the moral character of our nation. And I am committed to standing with the Democratic Party against bigotry and oppression for the next four years and beyond, no matter what form it takes. I hope you will do the same.
“Trump: I don't want to 'energize' alt-right movement”
By Lisa Hagen – The Hill – 11/22/2016
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday said he did not want to “energize” the alt-right movement and denounced the conference held over the weekend where white nationalists cheered his election and used Nazi-era terms and salutes.
“I disavow and condemn them,” Trump said at an on-the-record session with New York Times reporters and columnists when asked directly about the meeting.
He also said he didn’t believe that he had energized such groups.
“It's not a group I want to energize,” Trump said. “And if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why.”
White supremacist and Nazi groups have latched on to Trump’s campaign and victory, arguing at times that it represents a victory for their own cause.
At its annual conference in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, National Policy Institute leader Richard Spencer addressed the crowd with “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!,” according to The Atlantic.
Spencer, according to a separate report in the Times, suggested at the conference that the news media had been critical of Trump to protect Jewish interests.
“One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” he said, according to the Times.
The Trump team at times has sought to distance itself from such groups. Eric Trump at one point said former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke should get “a bullet.”
But the remarks to the Times represent the first time that Trump has outright condemned last week’s event, news of which has circulated heavily on social media in recent days.
In a Monday night statement, a spokesman for Trump’s transition team said that Trump continues to denounce all racism, but didn’t directly acknowledge the conference.
“President-elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind and he elected because he will be a leader for every American,” spokesman Bryan Lanza said in the Monday statement.
Trump’s decision to appoint Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon as his White House strategist has also been condemned by Democrats who say Breitbart is an alt-right news site that includes news articles meant to incite white nationalists.
Bannon and Trump’s transition team have pushed back at that narrative, and Trump defended his former campaign chairman to the Times.
Trump dismissed any notion that Bannon is a racist or is associated with the “alt-right” movement.
“If I thought he was a racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use, I wouldn't even think about hiring him,” Trump reportedly said.
“Trump disavowal of white supremacists doesn't quiet concerns”
Associated Press, November 26, 2016
ATLANTA — Donald Trump's disavowal this week of white supremacists who have cheered his election as president hasn't quieted concerns about the movement's impact on his White House or whether more acts of hate will be carried out in his name.
Members of the self-declared "alt-right" have exulted over the Nov. 8 results with public cries of "Hail Trump!" and reprises of the Nazi salute. The Ku Klux Klan plans to mark Trump's victory with a parade next month in North Carolina. Civil rights advocates have recoiled, citing an uptick in harassment and incidents of hate crimes affecting African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Muslims, Latinos, gays, lesbians and other minority groups since the vote.
The president-elect has drawn repeated criticism for being slow to offer his condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciation of the movement has not come voluntarily, only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign.
Further, Trump has named Stephen Bannon, the conservative media provocateur who shaped the final months of Trump's campaign, as a White House chief strategist who will work steps from the Oval Office. Bannon's appointment has become as a flashpoint for both sides.
Trump's detractors and his "alt-right" supporters broadly agree on one thing: It may not even matter what Trump himself believes, or how he defines his own ideology, because his campaign rhetoric has emboldened the white identity politics that will help define his administration.
"Those groups clearly see something and hear something that causes them to believe he is one who sympathizes with their voice and their view. ... Donald Trump has to take responsibility for that," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, a black Democrat. He was among 169 members of Congress who signed a letter opposing Bannon's White House appointment.
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer said he believes Trump, Bannon and the "alt-right" are "all riding in the same lane." Spencer explained that neither Trump nor Bannon is a movement "identitarian," Spencer's preferred term for his racially driven politics. But Spencer said Trump's election validates Spencer's view that America must reject multiculturalism and "political correctness" in favor of its white, Christian European heritage.
Spencer's group, the National Policy Institute, drew headlines for their recent gathering where some attendees mimicked the Nazi salute as they feted Trump. Spencer told The Associated Press the salutes were "ironic exuberance" that "the mainstream media doesn't get."
But at the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks incidents of anti-Semitism, Oren Segal said it is part of a disturbing postelection atmosphere tied to Trump's 17-month campaign.
Before, Segal said, it wasn't "surprising" for the ADL to get calls about a swastika, the Nazi insignia, defacing public or private property. "What's surprising now," he said, "are the references to the campaign" in the incidences. "'Make American White Again' ... 'Go Trump' with the swastika," he said. "That is unique."
Trump was asked about the rash of incidents during a postelection interview on CBS' "60 Minutes." Trump said he was "saddened," and he looked into the camera and said, "Stop it." But Trump has steadfastly defended his hiring of Bannon, who previously led Breitbart News and in July described it as a "platform for the alt-right" — just a month before he took the job running the Republican nominee's campaign.
Jared Taylor, editor of the white supremacist magazine "American Renaissance," said Trump bears some responsibility for his pitched rhetoric, which included describing Mexican immigrants as "rapists" at the outset of his campaign and proposing a ban on all Muslim immigrants. But Taylor said Trump is still unfairly maligned as a white supremacist and racist because he "cares about Americans already here."
But white supremacist imagery was a common sight at Trump rallies. Pepe the frog, a cartoon character appropriated by the white supremacist movement on social media, appeared on dozens of T-shirts and signs. The "Make America Great Again" motto was seen by some as a call back to the nation's simpler, whiter, past. While the businessman's campaign never actively courted votes from the movement, it did recognize the long-term fears that some whites feel about immigration.
Taylor insisted, "There's nothing Ku Klux Klan about any of this."
But, in fact, Trump drew Klan backing.
As part of his prolific Twitter use, he has retweeted white nationalist accounts and a famous quote of Benito Mussolini, the 20th century fascist leader of Italy, saying "It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep." In February, Trump declined to repudiate former Klan leader David Duke during a CNN interview. Afterward, Trump blamed the move on a faulty earpiece, only to come back days later and offer an explicit condemnation.
He has several times fallen back on the excuse of merely retweeting when asked about his controversial social media behavior. In February, he retweeted a message from the account of a neo-Nazi, which came shortly after he retweeted false crime statistics that dramatically overstated the number of whites killed by blacks.
"Bill, am I gonna check every statistic?" he asked Fox News host Bill O'Reilly at the time. "All it was is a retweet. It wasn't from me."
While Trump is quick to blast his foes on Twitter — in recent days that includes The New York Times and the cast of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" — he has yet to proactively condemn racist acts his win has inspired. His eldest son, Don Jr., has used Twitter to liken Syrian refugees to a poisoned bowl of Skittles candy, and he has posted images of Pepe. And Trump's rise to political celebrity came as he peddled the falsehood that the nation's first black president, Barack Obama, was born in Africa, not in the United States.
In an interview Tuesday with The New York Times, Trump did denounce the white supremacist movement when asked, saying "I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn." But he has yet to convene the traditional news conference held by a president-elect in the days after winning where he could potentially face more pointed questions about it.
The ADL's Segal called Trump's answers when questioned an important step to "allay any illusions" white supremacists have about their place in a Trump administration.
But Ben Jealous, a former national president of the NAACP, went a step further, saying Trump should "pull a George Wallace." The segregationist Alabama governor ran for president on white identity politics but years later publicly apologized for his views.
Trump "shouldn't just disavow the worst behavior of others," Jealous said, "but take accountability for the worst behavior he's engaged in him himself."
Lemire reported from New York.
Reach Barrow on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP and Lemire and http://twitter.com/JonLemire
"Councilors must step forward in condemning hate, racism"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, November 28, 2016
To the editor:
My statement to the North Adams City Council on Nov. 22:
I stood before this City Council in 2003 to ask the Council to stand with other communities to pass a resolution requesting the federal government to revise the hastily written and adopted Patriot Act, an act that eroded many of our civil liberties and paved the way for further erosion of them. The good members of that Council sat by and did nothing.
I stood before this City Council in 2006 to ask the Council to impeach Bush and Cheney for acts of treason, for purposefully and willfully lying to the American people to take us into an illegal and ongoing failed war of aggression, a war that continues to kill untold thousands, foment terrorism and is bankrupting our country. The good members of that Council sat by and did nothing.
Our country has elected a dangerously incompetent demagogue as our as next President. I stand before you today as an American and I salute you: Sieg Heil! And, I ask you how did that make you feel? That is the hateful salute of a growing neo-Nazi movement within our country, as unleashed by Trump.
If that salute offended you, then you, as a Council must condemn the appointment of Steven Bannon, an avowed white supremacist neo-Nazi, as Trump's chief strategic adviser. There is no place for neo-Nazis in our government, period.
This condemnation must happen at every level of government, in every house of worship and in every community. Failure to condemn this appointment, normalizes it and allows the evil reach of the neo-Nazis to expand.
As civic leaders, you act as a moral compass for our community and our children. If we tacitly accept racism, bigotry, anti-anti-Semitism, misogyny, and Islamaphobia in the White House, we are teaching them to our children.
To say that it is not within your purview as city councilors to condemn a presidential appointment is cowardly. It is every citizen's responsibility to condemn racism, bigotry and hate. It has been said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke.
Today, on the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy, I quote: "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." As in no other time in my lifetime has our country needed us more.
Dr. Peter D. May,
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arriving for a pre-trial hearing at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., in January. Credit Ted Richardson/Associated Press.
SundayReview | EDITORIAL
“The Soldier Donald Trump Called a Traitor”
By The New York Times Editorial Board, November 27, 2016
The case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who, after leaving his post, was held hostage by the Taliban for five years, became a recurring theme of Donald Trump’s unruly campaign speeches.
In August 2015, Mr. Trump fired up a New Hampshire crowd by calling Sergeant Bergdahl “a dirty rotten traitor.” He proceeded to falsely claim that “six young beautiful people were killed trying to find him.” Then he dismissed arguments that the former hostage’s “psychological problems” may have led him to walk off a base in Afghanistan in 2009. “In the old days,” Mr. Trump said, pantomiming an execution by pretending to fire a rifle twice. “Bing bong.”
Those remarks are certain to loom large over Sergeant Bergdahl’s court-martial, which is scheduled to start in April. Sergeant Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy; a guilty verdict could result in a sentence anywhere from no jail time to life. But how can he get a fair trial in the military justice system when the next commander in chief has proclaimed his guilt and accused him of treason?
The short answer is he can’t. Eugene Fidell, Mr. Bergdahl’s lawyer, says he intends to submit a motion the day Mr. Trump takes office, cataloging the roughly 40 times Mr. Trump made disparaging remarks about his client, and seeking to have the case dismissed.
“There is no precedent for a candidate running for high office to go after a single individual like this,” Mr. Fidell said in an interview. “Because he is at the pinnacle of the chain of command, what he says not only has direct and indirect legal consequences but symbolic potency.”
Mr. Trump recognized early on that the Bergdahl case had become a flash point for many voters who had contempt for the Obama administration. In one of the most thorny national security decisions of his administration, President Obama released five Afghan detainees held at Guantánamo Bay in exchange for Sergeant Bergdahl. The negotiations and the swap stunned members of Congress, who are required by law to be notified before any detainee is released from Guantánamo.
While Sergeant Bergdahl initially came home to a hero’s welcome, the terms and secrecy of the exchange, which angered Republicans and some members of the military, soon turned the soldier into a political pawn.
There is an alternative to a potentially drawn out legal fight over Mr. Trump’s incendiary remarks in the Bergdahl case. Mr. Obama could issue a pardon before he leaves office. That would put to rest a prosecution that was questionable from the outset because Sergeant Bergdahl had pre-existing mental health problems when the Army granted him a waiver to enlist. He emerged from captivity deeply traumatized after five years of being subjected to physical and psychological torture. It is time to let him rebuild his life.
"Bowe Bergdahl Asks Obama For Pardon Before Trump Takes Office"
Trump has been very critical of Bergdahl, whose desertion court-martial is approaching
The Huffington Post, (Reporting by Doina Chiacu [Reuters]; Editing by Alistair Bell [Reuters]), 12/3/2016
WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who is charged with desertion for walking away from his combat post in Afghanistan in 2009, has asked President Barack Obama for a pardon, the White House said on Saturday.
Obama will relinquish office on Jan. 20 to Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who made caustic comments about the sergeant during the presidential campaign that drew complaints from Bergdahl’s defense team.
Trump savaged Bergdahl as “a no-good traitor who should have been executed” and criticized the prisoner swap in 2014 that won his release.
Bergdahl, 30, is facing a court-martial with a potential life sentence on charges of desertion and endangerment of U.S. troops after he walked away from his post in Afghanistan. He was captured by the Taliban and became a prisoner for five years.
The White House has received Bergdahl’s pardon application, but could not comment on pending cases per standard practice, an official said on Saturday on condition of anonymity.
U.S. military prosecutors have said the 45-day search for Bergdahl after he left his post put soldiers’ lives at risk and diverted attention from the fight against the Taliban.
Bergdahl was freed in a prisoner swap involving the release of five Taliban leaders held by the United States. The deal drew heavy criticism from Republicans.
In January, Bergdahl lawyer Eugene Fidell said Trump had made “appalling” comments about the sergeant and might be called as a witness in the court-martial.
In August, defense lawyers asked to have the charges against the former prisoner of war dismissed, arguing comments made by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain violated his due process rights. The filing quoted McCain as saying the committee would hold a hearing if Bergdahl received no punishment and that U.S. soldiers’ lives were put in danger by having to look for him.
Now that Trump is president-elect, a fair military trial will be impossible, Fidell told The New York Times.
“I have grave concerns as to whether Sergeant Bergdahl can receive a fair trial given the beating he has taken over many months from Mr. Trump, who will be commander in chief, as well as Senator McCain’s call for a hearing in case Sergeant Bergdahl is not punished,” Fidell said. “It is really most unfair.”
"25th Amendment Could Declare Trump Mentally Unfit"
By Tim Marcin, IBTimes, November 28, 2016
Amid widespread protests and worrying signs of dysfunction in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, millions across the United States are likely wondering how, or if, it's possible to oust the billionaire from the White House before the 2020 presidential election. While there have long been talks of impeachment hearings, a favorite theory this week for removing Trump from power involves the 25th amendment to the Constitution.
The amendment was approved in 1967, pushed into existence in the wake of the stunning 1963 death of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas. The Constitution had never officially laid out a succession plan that detailed how, exactly, a vice-president should take power should a president no longer be able to carry out his or her duties. Up until the amendment, vice presidents effectively took over because of a precedent set by Vice President John Tyler in 1841, according to the National Constitution Center. The 25th amendment clearly spelled out that a vice president took over if a president died, resigned or, importantly, was removed from office.
The amendment opened the door for removal if a president was deemed to be unfit for office, different from an impeachment hearing that typically centers around investigating if a president acted illegally while in office.
There are two options to remove a mentally unfit president, which were helpfully laid out step-by-step by Fusion. The first option requires a majority of the president's cabinet — positions such as secretary of state and secretary of defense — joining together with the vice president to declare the president is unfit. The second option requires the vice president to convince a majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate to decide the president is unfit. Both chambers of Congress then submit a letter stating such, which removes the president from power.
In both cases, the president can then submit a letter claiming he is fit for office, which then mandates a special session to vote on the issue. Once that special session is called, those trying to oust the president, in this case Trump, would have 21 days to convince a two-thirds majority of both Congressional chambers to vote to keep Trump out of the Oval Office.
While this might seem like a long shot, many are navigating toward it. Liberal "GQ" correspondent Keith Olbermann called it an instant impeachment, a sort-of "crazy-man clause." "For my money, he's nuts — couldn't pass a sanity test, open book," Olbermann said. "But of course, Section Four of the 25th Amendment here does not say 'nuts' — or impaired, or erratic or unbalanced or unhealthy or bipolar or narcissist or sociopath or psychopath. It only says 'that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.'"
"Trump mulls loss of citizenship, jail for flag burning"
The Hill, November 29, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday proposed harsh punishments for flag burning, mentioning loss of citizenship or a year in jail.
“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump wrote in an early morning tweet.
“Trump's war on media should worry all Americans”
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, November 30, 2016
To the editor:
A free press has always been a great tool for the American people to hold public officials accountable. Watchdog journalism has provided us with numerous stories that shed light on the various types of corruption and scandals. If anything good came out of Watergate it was that the American public knew that they could trust the press to hold even the highest public officials accountable.
With the election of President-elect Donald Trump, the reliability of the media has come under constant scrutiny. Never before has a major presidential candidate, let alone a president-elect, questioned the legitimacy of the free press. He has called for strengthening libel laws, routinely banned certain reporters on the campaign trail, and his surrogates even suggested that he not hold press conferences while in office. This crusade against the media has caused distrust for actual fact-based news and an affinity for fake news over social media.
Mr. Trump's war on the media is dangerous for all Americans, whether you voted for him or not. Mr. Trump, like all presidents before him, needs to be held accountable by a free press, and to do that we must demand that he accept the media as a check against unilateral power and corruption.
Jacob "Coby" Tarjick,
"Donald Trump Will Be President In Just Over A Month And The Constitution Is Already Under Attack"
It doesn’t take long.
By Sam Levine, Associate Politics Editor, The Huffington Post, 12/3/2016
With a little over a month until Donald Trump takes office, the president-elect and his allies have already begun to attack the guarantees of the First Amendment, signaling how imperiled the fundamental freedoms of the Constitution could be under a Trump presidency.
Trump has long shown contempt for the media and, as he prepares to take power, he and his allies haven’t held back.
On Thursday, Corey Lewandowski, who is Trump’s former campaign manager and expected to have a role in a Trump White House, said that New York Times editor Dean Baquet should be in jail because the paper published parts of Trump’s tax return during the campaign.
“We had one of the top people at The New York Times come to Harvard University and say, ‘I’m willing to go to jail to get a copy of Donald Trump’s taxes so I can publish them,’” Lewandowski said, according to Politico. “Dean Baquet came here and offered to go to jail — you’re telling me, he’s willing to commit a felony on a private citizen to post his taxes, and there isn’t enough scrutiny on the Trump campaign and his business dealings and his taxes?”
“It’s egregious,” Lewandowski added. “He should be in jail.”
Even after winning the presidency, Trump has had an almost myopic focus on the Times, criticizing the paper’s coverage of him. He has pledged to sue the newspaper, though, when he met with its staff, he called it “a great, great American jewel. A world jewel.”
But Trump has undermined the press by limiting its access to him, while surrogates have made the absurd claim that facts simply don’t exist anymore. The incoming commander in chief has also suggested that Americans who burn flags should lose their citizenship and do jail time. That would be a clear violation of the constitution, as the Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that flag burning was constitutionally protected speech.
The New York Observer, which is owned by Trump’s son in law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, also published an op-ed this week calling on the FBI to investigate nationwide protests ― a form of constitutionally protected free speech ― following Trump’s victory.
Trump’s statement that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States is also an attack on the First Amendment, along with several other constitutional protections.
But perhaps more disturbingly, there’s been logic emerging from the Trump team that anything Trump does is protected by the office of the presidency.
When he explained the potential conflict of interest with his business, for example, Trump said “the law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”
Kellyanne Conway, another of Trump’s campaign managers, said that his spreading misinformation on Twitter constituted presidential behavior simply because he specifically engaged in it.
“He’s the president-elect, so that’s presidential behavior,” she said.