Normalizing the president-elect, his proposed policies, or the highly disturbing administration that he has put together thus far is bad. Normalizing the alt-right is is worse. There are neo-Nazis literally hailing Donald Trump's victory. When I head back to the United States for the first time after Election Day, Trump still won't be president. Luckily, there will be a few more weeks under Obama left. But neo-Nazis will be neo-Nazis, and that's what these alt-right supporters are proving themselves to be. Surely, we can all agree that's the antithesis of America, so let's call it like it is.
Trump's supporters have claimed not to be racist, and there have been calls not to demonize them all as "deplorables." That doesn't play well with Trump voters, but I think that calling out the racist actions and the blatantly racist factions in Trump supporters is still tantamount to standing up against them and maintaining a pluralistic society that supports people of all races, creeds, backgrounds, orientations, and gender identities. So let's call the alt-right "neo-Nazis," or at least white nationalists. It's only fair.
That might have been hard to prove before the videos came out of an alt-right conference for the National Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. They shouted out "Hail Trump!" and gave the Nazi salute throughout speeches by the likes of Richard Spencer, the group's president, which was full of tidbits like "America was, until this past generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us."
Yes, you read that correctly. Spencer used plenty of Nazi terms, too — at times even in the original German, like lügenpresse, which means "lying press." So calling them racist, white nationalists, or neo-Nazis is not remotely an exaggeration. That doesn't mean every Trump supporter is one, but it's important to acknowledge that some are.
Especially when Trump hasn't strongly denied them. Instead, he's offered up a vague criticism of the conference. A statement from his transition team read: "President-elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind, and he was elected because he will be a leader for every American. To think otherwise is a complete misrepresentation of the movement that united Americans from all backgrounds."
Trump ran a racist campaign, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised that these racist white nationalists are coming out in troves to publicly support him as president-elect. But when Trump doesn't loudly condemn this sort of thing, everyone from elementary school on up has felt safer in openly sharing their bigoted beliefs. Look at the Iowa high schools that staged walkouts after a Trump's victory led to an increase in bullying based on skin color and religion. That such a thing would happen in Iowa astounds me (my niece attends the school profiled by The New York Times).
The prospects of politically incorrect language, disrespect for minorities, and hate crimes are a reality under a Trump presidency. Denouncing racist white nationalism for what it is has to be part of any sort of resistance.