President Donald Trump may have historically low approval ratings overall, but for many of America’s most politically extreme figures, the commander-in-chief has been a dream come true.
A wide range of fringe figures in the public sphere and on the web ― including white nationalists, anti-Semites, so-called “men’s rights activists” and others with discriminatory views ― have acclaimed Trump’s first week in office, focusing in particular on his executive actions ordering the construction of a border wall with Mexico and banning refugees from entering the country.
“Hail Prez Trump! America First!” tweeted David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and still outspoken white supremacist and anti-Semite, the day of Trump’s inauguration. “Save USA borders not foreign. Make nations (((Israel)))? pay own defense! NO to (((Neocon))) warmongers!” (Those multiple parentheses are called “echoes,” and they’re used by anti-Semites to indicate people and things perceived to be nefariously Jewish.)
“President Trump has the potential to be placed amongst the greatest,” Duke added on Sunday.
Richard Spencer, arguably the best-known member of the so-called “alt-right” white nationalist movement, has voiced similar support for Trump’s agenda. “This is getting awesome,” Spencer tweeted after Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday. “The Wall is a symbol, a symbol of the will to survive. #Trump,” he opined in another tweet last week.
In a blog post on his website over the weekend, Spencer sneered at criticism of the administration’s decision not to specifically mention the 6 million Jewish victims in its Holocaust Day statement. “[W]hen viewed from the perspective of Jewish activists, Trump’s statement becomes outrageous, as it dethrones Jews from a special position in the universe,” Spencer wrote.
This is getting awesome. Richard Spencer, a leading figure among white nationalists
The far-right extremists see Trump so far fulfilling some of their deepest policy wishes, according to Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“These are exactly the type of ‘banish the black and brown people’ policies they’ve been hoping for,” said Beirich. “They’re pretty happy with the guy. The Muslim ban in particular is right up their alley.”
Jared Taylor, editor-in-chief of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, greeted Trump’s inauguration as a welcome development, describing the new president’s ascension as “a sign of rising white consciousness.”
“Our movement has the wind in its sails as never before,” Taylor wrote last week. “Let us seize this moment and make the most of it.”
Well-known conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has altered his famously dire outlook about the country since President Trump was sworn in. In addition to claiming that his website Infowars had received White House press credentials (a notion disputed by the White House press office), Jones said in a recent video that Trump will help combat the wicked forces he perceives to be running the federal government.
“[W]e’re devolving in a good way, power from the federal government back to the people, back from the centralized MSM [mainstream media] to the people, just like Trump said in his speech,” Jones declared.
Infowars has been reporting favorably about Trump’s orders on the border wall and the refugee ban.
Mike Cernovich, another conspiracy theorist and men’s rights blogger with close ties to white nationalists, has vociferously defended the president’s policies, especially the refugee ban and the border wall.
“Every terrorist attack now belongs to the left,” Cernovich tweeted about opposition to the anti-Muslim ban over the weekend.
Our movement has the wind in its sails as never before. Let us seize this moment and make the most of it. Jared Taylor, editor-in-chief of American Renaissance
Reaction has been even more fervent on extremist online message boards. On Tuesday, one of the top posts on Reddit’s AltRight subreddit was titled “LMFAO!! Trump calls out communist jew Chuck Schumer for his ‘fake tears’ when shilling for the Islamic invasion!” That slam echoes Trump’s own criticism of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s tearful remarks about the refugee ban.
The subject of another popular Reddit post predicted approvingly that the administration’s actions presaged a democratic decline. It was titled “I get the feeling that Trump deep down is planning on going full fash,” meaning fascist.
On the white supremacist message board Stormfront, users expressed support for Trump’s proposed border wall, with many offering suggestions on how it should be built. “I too like the idea of a minefield,” wrote user AryanWarrior. “Drones, helicopters, guard towers, starving dogs who love dark meat, all the bells & whistles :)”
Trump has repeatedly faced questions about the support he garners from such circles. During the campaign, he was criticized for not denouncing the KKK fast enough.
He offered some less-than-enthusiastic disapproval in December. “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group,” then President-elect Trump said of the “alt-right” during a visit to the New York Times headquarters. “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.”
And in response to The Huffington Post’s request for comment, White House spokesperson Kelly Love said, “As President Trump clearly stated during the campaign he disavows David Duke and his followers and does not want their support.”
But the president still refuses to denounce white nationalists in a more public setting.
“This country went through massive upheavals to secure civil rights for everyone and these people oppose that,” said Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “And the president can’t take five minutes to denounce it.”
This story has been updated with comment from the White House.
Huffington Post reporter Eliot Nelson’s book, The Beltway Bible: A Totally Serious A-Z Guide to Our No-Good, Corrupt, Incompetent, Terrible, Depressing and Sometimes Hilarious Government, is out now.