The first time I heard the term “alt-right” was long before Donald Trump decided to trade in his career as a reality-show host in exchange for a chance to be president of the United States. In early 2014 I interviewed a white supremacist named Kyle Hunt, founder of the White Man’s March—a predecessor of what happened in Charlottesville, Va. I was alerted to the existence of the march when people in cities across the country discovered signs advertising the march that simply read, “Diversity=White Genocide.”
Trump reiterated that message Wednesday morning when he rolled out of the cryogenic vat of General Tso’s-chicken sauce he sleeps in and addressed the New York City terrorist truck attack by tweeting this:
To be clear, not a single legitimate news outlet has confirmed that the alleged attacker, 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, entered the country on the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. It is possible that Trump has intelligence that is unavailable to the public, but to single out that tiny fact as a cause for terrorism is a dog whistle to Trump’s “alt-right” base.
The DV program is a lottery-style program that offers entry into the United States to immigrants from countries that have low immigration totals. The word “diversity” has evolved into a bit of white supremacist profanity since the mainstreaming of white nationalism. It is part of the “white genocide” theory.
The theory goes that the white race is being eliminated by immigration, multiculturalism and diversity efforts. Proponents usually cite the rhetoric that the United Nations definition of genocide includes “replacing” a people—it does not (pdf)—which is what is being done to the great Aryan race.
The theory goes hand in hand with Trump’s second secret signal to the white supremacist movement: merit-based systems. According to them, affirmative action in colleges and corporations promotes the replacement of whites by ignoring objective, “merit-based” metrics in favor of diversity.
The criers of cold white tears (which eventually become snowflakes) believe that SAT scores, standardized tests and employment recommendations are being rejected to allow blacks and Latinos to erase Caucasians from achieving the American dream.
That’s how it works. But that’s not how any of this works.
White Americans love to believe that their success comes from ability and hard work, and that none of it is a byproduct of the privilege of having a 200-year head start thanks to the legally entrenched, constitutionally approved history of white supremacy in the United States. When anyone mentions legacy college-entrance loopholes, how résumés with black names are systematically thrown in the trash, the underfunding of majority-black schools, redlining, the wage gap, the employment gap or the long history of white people’s efforts to render the playing field uneven, their only response is:
“Yeah, but still ... ”
But now that they have an ally in the White House, their efforts to demonize diversity have hit full tilt. Donald Trump is their homeboy, and he is giving them a wink and a nod with each hate-filled tweet. Saipov is from Uzbekistan, which isn’t included on the proposed travel-ban list. According to preliminary reports, he was recently radicalized. In fact, Trump’s White House hasn’t proposed a single policy that would have prevented the alleged attacker from entering the country.
But the white supremacist movement knows what Pumpkin-Spice Stalin means when he mentions how “diversity” kills. They don’t miss the double entendre of “merit-based” whiteness saving us from the terrorist immigrants. Trump knows that his support lies with the fragile section of Confederate sympathizers and tiki-torch toters who want to remind us that they will not be replaced.
They won’t. Not as long as we have a dog-whistling white supremacist supporter sleeping in duck sauce at the White House.