Prominent in the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were white supremacists, Christian nationalists, neo-Confederates, conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis, antisemites, and various other far-right extremists. Were these groups correct in seeing Trump as their champion?
Yes. Trump has denied the connection, but he has used their language, refused to condemn them, and retweeted their messages. He is master of the dog whistle, communicating shared prejudices with little or no audible evidence.
He began his first campaign by labeling Mexican migrants as rapists, then condemned Haitians and Africans as immigrants from "shithole countries." He appeared on the "InfoWars" show of Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist who believes that George W. Bush instigated the 9/11 attack and that the Sandy Hook school massacre of 2012 did not occur. And he told Jones that "I will not let you down."
Trump comes by his prejudices honestly. His father Fred -- described by Donald as "my hero" -- was known for far-right views and was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927. Fred's real estate business was charged by the U.S. government with blatant racism.
But Fred was primarily a businessman, so while other German-Americans were rallying around the Nazi regime in the late 1930s, he kept a low profile and promoted the false notion that his forbearers were Swedish (in the FBI file on Fred, these years are, interestingly, missing). And after the dimensions of the Holocaust were revealed, he ostentatiously made donations to Jewish causes.
The son has followed a similar script. He has described himself as "the least antisemitic person that you've ever seen," as evidenced by his Jewish grandchildren. But addressing a Jewish audience in Florida in 2019, he evoked classic antisemitic canards of dual loyalty and money-grubbing. As Fred gave to Jewish causes, Donald ostentatiously trumpets his pro-Israel diplomatic moves.
There is another connection to the 1930s. German-Americans were staunch supporters of the America First movement, which fought to keep the United States from opposing Nazi Germany. Donald Trump chose, surely not by coincidence, to make "America First" the theme of his inaugural address.
"America First" is also a pro-Trump show hosted by Nicholas Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and mythologist of the Great Replacement: the idea that Jews and others are trying to replace While Christians. Thus the chant in the 2017 Charlottesville rally: "Jews will not replace us." This was the rally of which Trump said there were "very fine people on both sides."
The extremists on the far right know how to listen for the dog whistle. David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, declared in 2016 that "the fact that Donald Trump's doing so well, it proves that I'm winning."
One of the most active groups in the Jan. 6 insurrection was the Proud Boys, the proto-fascist mob told by Trump to "stand back and stand by." The national chairman of Proud Boys, Henry (Enrique) Tarrio, served as chief of staff of Latinos for Trump.
And Andrew Anglin, of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, said that "virtually every alt-right Nazi I know is volunteering for the Trump campaign."