Many individuals in my life, many who I love and believe are wonderful people, voted for Donald Trump. You are the ones I am writing to today. In the weeks following the election, I’ve done my best to listen and learn – to understand your motivations. And I have learned! Thank you so much for being willing to share your thoughts with me. I empathize with some of those motivations and I echo some of your concerns about our nation and government. I do not believe that everyone who voted for Trump is racist or xenophobic. In fact, I think many would champion the cause of minorities they know personally and would fight for them were they to experience violence or outright discrimination. I believe that to be you, my friends.
That is why I want you to stay with me – to not disengage or avoid the news. You may have heard the term “alt right” included in discussions of the election or Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist for his administration. Before being hired as CEO for Trump’s campaign, Bannon ran Breitbart – the primary news platform for the alt right. Over the weekend, the alt right movement hosted a conference in Washington, D.C. It has been debated whether the alt right is synonymous with white-nationalists/white-supremacy. The debate is over.
On Saturday, Richard B. Spencer, a primary leader of the movement, spoke to a conference room full of primarily young men. Here is an excerpt from a NYT article covering the event:
“America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Mr. Spencer thundered. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
But the white race, he added, is “a race that travels forever on an upward path.”
“To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror,” he said.
More members of the audience were on their feet as Mr. Spencer described the choice facing white people as to “conquer or die.”
Of other races, Mr. Spencer said: “We don’t exploit other groups, we don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around.”
As I read those words, my mouth hung open. These words are shocking. And yet there were more:
Mr. Spencer said that while he did not think the president-elect should be considered alt-right, “I do think we have a psychic connection, or you can say a deeper connection, with Donald Trump in a way that we simply do not have with most Republicans.”
White identity, he said, is at the core of both the alt-right movement and the Trump movement, even if most voters for Mr. Trump “aren’t willing to articulate it as such.”
If you are conservative, and this shocks you, please, say so! Make it clear that you do not and will not support these ideologies. Don’t let this movement define your party or your politics. This. Is. Important. We cannot procrastinate addressing these issues. We cannot avoid them. We must be vigilant now. Or before we know it, what has already made astounding progress as a growing movement will continue to grow.
Read the full article. Stay informed. Speak out. We must work together to ensure that our nation will continue to be a safe place for all citizens – where “liberty and just for all” does not include an implicit [white people] at the end.
This is the common ground we are looking for. Let’s work together.