Donald Trump is mainstreaming hate. That was the central message of Hillary Clinton’s speech last week in Reno, Nevada, where she detailed Trump’s record of stoking racism and conspiracy theories. “From the start,” she declared, “Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.”
Clinton certainly had a point. Even before the start of his campaign, it was Trump’s disgraceful crusade to “prove” that President Obama was not actually born in the United States that laid the foundation for his victory in the Republican primaries. His most despicable statements of the election—from calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” to promoting the lie that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the September 11 attacks — have only cemented his hero status among bigots and cranks who were previously relegated to the fringes of society.
While past Republican nominees have flirted with extremists, none has embraced or encouraged them so openly. As Clinton pointed out, Trump has brought out of the online shadows an emerging movement known as the “alt-right.” Despite lacking clear leaders or a cohesive ideology, the alt-right “is bound together by common enemies: women, minorities, immigrants and national institutions that, by their worldview, threaten the freedom of white men with the toxic sword of political correctness,” Jack Smith IV writes. Notably, in his former role as the chairman of Breitbart Media, Trump’s new campaign chief executive Stephen Bannon boasted, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.”
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.