White House sees damage from ‘alt-right’
This editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
President Donald Trump can no longer dodge and distract from the cold reality that his administration has granted a platform for white supremacists and anti-Semites to advance their twisted causes. His failure to lead has helped members of the “alt-right” expand their reach.
Last Tuesday, Trump finally spoke out, but only after nearly 200 gravestones were overturned at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis. Nationwide, Jewish organizations are warning about a spike in bomb threats and harassment aimed at Jews.
Trump has inflicted serious damage upon himself with shoulder-shrugging responses to questions about anti-Semitism. Actions speak louder than words, and the most damaging action Trump has taken to undermine his “least anti-Semitic” title was to name Stephen K. Bannon as his chief White House strategist. Before taking the job, Bannon headed Breitbart News, a website Bannon described last year as “the platform for the alt-right.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center defines the altright as “a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that ‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization.”
Not once has the Trump administration challenged Breitbart’s alt-right alignment or urged the website to moderate its postings.
Trump’s belated condemnation of anti-Semitism rings hollow. Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress has every reason to demand wider official acknowledgment that “anti-Semitism is alive and kicking.” Hate mongers will have a prominent friend as long as Trump keeps Bannon in the White House.