Experts on white supremacism say Americans should be concerned that the “bile” of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric will inspire white nationalists to be more “daring.”
British scholars Clive Webb and Robert Cook, of the University of Sussex, talked about the “resurgent” neo-Nazi movement in the latest episode of the university’s Trump Watch podcast.
“The far-right is resurgent…with a president that espouses demagoguery and bile,” said Webb, a historian of white supremacist movements. “That can only serve to energize the far right…making it more daring in its actions.”
This surge in the white supremacist movement comes as a “war for the soul of the Republican Party” is creating rifts in the GOP, Cook, an expert on the Civil War, added.
“In the months to come, we will see Trump siding with the opponents of the Republican mainstream, and white supremacist rhetoric will undoubtedly play a very, very important role in those efforts on the part of the president,” Cook said. “The president of the United States is giving at least implicit sanction to the conduct of people who should be far beyond the political pale.”
Steve Bannon — a champion of the “alt-right”— is no longer part of the Trump administration, but No. 45’s comments calling white nationalists chanting Nazi slogans “very fine people” could embolden the hate groups.
The rallies by neo-Nazis and white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August led to violent street clashes with counter-protesters. A peaceful counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August by a car police say was driven by a white supremacist.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday ahead of a speech by a white nationalist leader later this week at the University of Florida, in order to free up resources to prepare for possible violence.
“This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe,” Scott said in a statement.
Scott said in the order there was a need to implement a coordinated security plan among local and state agencies before the speech by Richard Spencer on Thursday in Gainesville.
Spencer heads a white nationalist group and was one of the organizers of the Charlottesville rally.
Reuters contributed to this report.