A Yale political scientist urged Democrats to keep hammering away at President Donald Trump’s white nationalist ties as a threat to national security.
Trump’s election has been accompanied by bomb threats called in to hundreds of synagogues and mosques, and the recent killing of an Indian man by a xenophobic white man, with almost no reaction by the president, wrote John Stoehr, a Yale lecturer and contributing editor for U.S. News & World Report.
“The fact remains that most Americans are immune to the dangers, or blind to the existence, of white nationalism,” Stoehr wrote. “They are white. Because it takes majorities to win in politics, the Democrats will need to convince a majority that white nationalism poses a clear and present danger to all. Thanks to Trump’s incompetence, the task is made less challenging.”
Stoehr linked Trump’s rise to white nationalist leaders in other nations, which he linked to Russia’s influence.
“After the global recession, and after decades of feeling the shame of a fallen superpower, Russia began poking the West’s socioeconomic soft spots,” Stoehr wrote.
The Kremlin has funded right-wing parties in European nations struggling with refugee crises and escalated the Syrian civil war, Stoehr wrote, and used disinformation campaigns to promote white nationalist themes and weaken Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“Russia is puny, economically and militarily,” Stoehr wrote. “But a country does not have to be strong to injure us in small devious ways: by eroding trust in democratic institutions, by inflaming racial hatreds, by exploiting the warped thinking of a major political party.”
He pointed to Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has promoted anti-immigrant and other racist ideas for years but recently drew widespread attention, and the praise of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, for a nakedly white supremacist tweet backing the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders — another favorite of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Trump’s policies will quicken climate change, worsen global inequities and divide the U.S. from its European allies,” Stoehr said. “If you’re a weak power destabilizing a superpower from the inside without arousing suspicion, you win, bigly.”
He said Democrats must explain that Trump’s white nationalist allies are doing Putin’s bidding, and show the danger their hateful rhetoric and actions present to the U.S.
“The Democrats have only begun using language to suggest we were attacked during the election by a hostile foreign power,” Stoehr said. “They have not yet made explicit the connection between that hostile foreign power and home-grown white nationalists who are rotting America from the inside, a rot our enemies would like to see grow. When they make the connection, the Democrats may end up convincing a majority that white nationalism is a threat to national security.”