Legal, Media Experts Say White Supremacists Are Using Trump to Grow Numbers

Donald Trump in 2015
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Donald Trump in 2015
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

White supremacists have found their guy. And will stop at nothing to ensure that he is elected.

That was the sentiment expressed during a press call Wednesday in the wake of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s comments concerning Hillary Clinton and the Second Amendment. Legal, media and academic experts convened to discuss how white supremacists have embraced the Trump campaign because it has provided them with a “home” once again in this country.

Heidi Beirich, head of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, launched right into the conversation, saying that the Trump campaign has been wonderful for white supremacists, and “the world of politics has come home to them.”


That’s why people like notorious former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke felt “inspired” by Trump’s nomination. Beirich mentioned that the reasoning behind the white supremacists’ endorsement is that a lot of Trump’s ideas are the same ones that white nationalists have been promoting for years.

“They want to ethnically cleanse the United States,” she said.

Many of the groups that are heavily backing the Trump campaign use inappropriate and disturbing language when engaging with their audiences through their articles. The Daily Stormer, for example, a website that supports Trump, is participating through awful and hateful trolling of reporters who are following and reporting on Trump’s campaign.

“White nationalists are using Trump to inspire their numbers and increase their membership,” Sophie Bjork-James, a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Vanderbilt University, said.

Henry Fernandez, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said, “That white supremacists [are] using the Trump campaign to grow in numbers and influence should send a chill through all Americans of good will. Their ideas, if allowed to enter the mainstream, will challenge the fabric of the world’s most diverse democracy.”


Bjork-James added that many of these groups organize themselves online, and instead of being called “racists,” they want to be called “racialists.”

Bjork-James also pointed out the alarming conspiracy theories that can be found within some of these organizations. One is that the U.S. is on the verge of having a white genocide. It’s the idea that mass immigration, integration, miscegenation, low fertility rates and abortion are being promoted in predominantly white countries, including ours, to purposely make white people the minority, which will eventually lead them to extinction through forced assimilation.


The last participant in the conversation, Angelo Carusone, executive vice president at Media Matters for America, offered lots of information on the role of the media and how the Trump campaign has worked directly with white supremacist media platforms.

Carusone said that the Trump campaign’s general approach suggests that his ideas line up with those of white nationalists. One such idea is that “you should be able to dismiss and judge people for race as a legitimate consideration.” The country saw an example of this when Trump used Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage as the reason for saying that the judge—who is overseeing a case involving Trump University—made “rulings that people can’t even believe.”


The Trump campaign's use of social media is a tactic that also instills fear in many Americans. To many observers, his use of Twitter is unacceptable, going beyond even his rhetoric.

What’s even more absurd is that, according to Carusone, Trump and members of his campaign have directly engaged with white nationalist leaders via social media, whether in response to a comment or a retweet.


The game Trump is playing with white supremacists (and how they are playing right back) is alarming, and those speaking out believe it's time that people took notice.

Veronica Graves is a digital-news associate at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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