The Bitter Fruits of Trump’s White-Power Presidency

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor in The New Yorker:

The spectacular violence in the Capitol on January 6th was the outcome of Donald Trump’s yearslong dalliance with the white-supremacist right. Trump all but promised an attack of some kind as he called for his followers to descend on Washington, D.C., for a “wild” protest to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. In a speech inciting his supporters to lay siege to the Capitol, he told them, “We will never give up. We will never concede.” He encouraged them to “fight like hell,” saying that otherwise they would lose their country, and dispatched them to the Capitol. He promised that he would be with them. But, like a lazy coward, Trump went home to watch the show on TV.

The white right-wing assault on the Capitol, with a Confederate flag in the building and gallows on the lawn, was alarming yet wholly predictable as Trump’s frantic efforts to hold on to power faltered. Not only did Trump clearly incite violence with his speech, but his Administration also paved the way for the violence through its deliberate neglect of the rising threat of white extremism. The Center for Strategic and International Studies found that attacks by far-right perpetrators more than quadrupled between 2016 and 2017. Yet even as the threat of white-supremacist violence grew, it commanded little interest or acknowledgment from the Trump Administration. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention, which was restructured and renamed in 2019, is dedicated to investigating extremism and domestic terrorism. Between 2017 and 2019, its operating budget was cut from twenty-one million dollars to less than three million, and the number of its full-time employees dwindled from forty to fewer than ten.

Instead of investigating white supremacists, the Trump Administration has surveilled the Black Lives Matter movement and other minority activists.

More here.