Many fear that President Donald Trump’s obvious affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin means that the occupant of the Oval Office is being blackmailed by a foreign power. And while there is some evidence to support this theory, another even more troubling explanation has received far less attention.
This theory posits that Trump is not solely obliged to Putin for personal reasons but that he also has an ideological affinity for the authoritarian leader.
The ideological connection is illustrated in the increasingly amicable relationship between American white supremacists and the Russian state, as detailed in a recent ThinkProgress article.
Most recently, this connection manifested in a letter from Michael Hill, the president of the neo-Confederate group League of the South, addressed to “our Russian Friends,” as reported by Right Wing Watch.
In the letter, Hill announces the launch of Russian language section on his group’s website and draws out his shared interests with Russia:
We understand that the Russian people and Southerners are natural allies in blood, culture, and religion. As fellow Whites of northern European extraction, we come from the same general gene pool. As inheritors of the European cultural tradition, we share similar values, customs, and ways of life. And as Christians, we worship the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and our common faith binds us as brothers and sisters.
ThinkProgress reports that Hill also held a video conference call with the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia’s 2014 conference in Moscow.
“The invitation for Hill to speak marks one of the earliest instances of interest in Russia in stoking secessionists — and white supremacist — movements across the U.S.,” writes Casey Michel for ThinkProgress. “It would set the tone for things like the opening of a 'California Embassy' in Moscow or the 'Heart of Texas' Facebook page, which advocated Texas secession.”
Michel also notes that Matthew Heimbach, a prominent white supremacist member of the “alt-right,” once posed for a photograph holding the League of the South’s flag along with a copy of a book by neo-fascist Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin.
The apparent alliance between Russian nationalists and American white supremacists suggests a foreign policy agenda that Trump seems to be pursuing. It would involve closer ties to largely white, authoritarian states like Russia while distancing the U.S. from liberal multicultural democracies, like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
That Trump might be intentionally undermining the structure of global alliances and attempting to replace it with a much more sinister framework is an idea that hasn’t been widely discussed — but it is urgent that we begin taking it seriously.