On Saturday, the National Policy Institute held a panel discussion in Washington D.C. to discuss their vision for the future and celebrate the election of Donald Trump. While the organization has an innocuous name (The National Policy Institute) and sometimes tries to present itself as racially inclusive, the meeting itself ended with attendees giving Hitler salutes, chanting "Heil Trump" in a video, and shouting Nazi slogans in the original German tongue. It's clear what this meeting was about.
"Heil Trump," group founder Richard Spencer said at the closing of his speech. "Heil our people. Heil victory." Cheers and Nazi salutes quickly filled the room.
The National Policy Institute as well as Spencer, prefer the label "alt-right" to white supremacist. But a pig with lipstick on it is still a pig, as the saying goes, and the group's ideology is about as outwardly racist as they come. By his own admission, Spencer believes in genetic differences between the races and thinks that Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, and other non-whites should leave America, so that the United States can be an all-white country. In July, he stood outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland with a sign identifying himself as racist.
"America was, until this past generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity," Spencer told the mostly-white audience on Saturday. "It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us."
Of course, racism has been around for as long as humanity itself, and racist organizations like the National Policy Institute obviously predate Trump. But it's significant that these folks are invigorated by the president-elect, and his promise to make America "great" again. It's significant that Trump chose Steve Bannon, former chairman of the "alt-right" promoting Breitbart News, as his campaign manager and top advisor. It's also significant that the Ku Klux Klan enthusiastically showed their support for Trump.
And lastly, it's significant that Spencer, the National Policy Institute, and the "alt-right" hadn't become frequent topics of discussion in mainstream media until Trump came along. Although Trump is careful to avoid saying anything explicitly anti-Semitic, his campaign was chock full of anti-Semitic dog whistles. From the infamous Star of David incident, in which Trump tweeted a subtly anti-Semitic image that originated on a neo-Nazi message board, to his warnings about "international banks [that] plan the destruction of global sovereignty," Trump is well-versed in appealing to racists.
Trump will soon be America's next president, and this makes it more important than ever to hold him accountable. Just as importantly, it's time to stop calling Trump supporters like Spencer "the alt-right," or "white nationalists." As evidenced by their self-stated views on race, they are racist, and must be referred to as such. After all, they're not trying to sugar-coat their racism. Neither should anybody else.