A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll asked people about Charlottesville and Donald Trump’s response to Charlottesville.
Question 7 asked:
Do you yourself think it’s acceptable or unacceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views? Do you feel that way strongly, or somewhat?
A full 9 percent said acceptable, with somewhere between 3-4 percent saying strongly acceptable. That 9 percent of the current voting age population (VAP) in the United States is nearly 22 million people (242.8 million x 9 percent = 21.85 million).
This isn’t some small fringe. This is the Republican base. These are the folks who Trump claims will stick with him even if he shoots someone on Fifth Avenue.
These are the people who defend him when he won’t call out Nazis and claims a false equivalence with some other “side.” These are the folks who Steve Bannon wants to lead at Breitbart. Some of these folks have positions in Donald Trump’s cabinet.
Let’s compare this to the new boogeyman on the right: antifa.
For starters, antifa has no leadership in the Democratic Party, none in Congress, none in any state legislatures, none on any city councils, and none in any other public or non-profit organizations. In fact, it’s hard to find any leadership for them, period. It’s almost as hard to find actual members. This is why the right has to fake interviews with antifa activists, fake pictures of antifa violence, and create a fake secret antifa manual.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t occasionally a few protesters who use violence as a response to Nazi marches. What it does mean, however, is that there is no equivalence between the “alt-right”/white supremacists and antifa. The equivalence is used as a means of justifying what we’re seeing in this poll—the 22 million neo-Nazi/white supremacy supporters.
To put this in perspective, let’s assume for a minute a huge number of antifa members. Let’s say they have 100,000 members, even though it’s hard to find even a single chapter in the United States with more than a few members. Compare this to 21.85 million supporters of neo-Nazism/white supremacy.
Yet much of the “liberal” media is covering these two groups as if they’re the same. One is largely made up: it has no power, no real membership, and no organization. The other has millions of supporters, helped elect the current president, has its own news platforms, and has members in the president’s cabinet.
We don’t hear about the greater risk of terrorism in our country from far-right extremists. We hardly hear about the FBI thwarting a 3 Percenter who tried to bomb another building in Oklahoma City.
What we hear about is something on the “left” that barely exists except in right-wing media. We hear false equivalency used to justify and obscure facts like the support for neo-Nazism and white supremacy.
John Sepulvado, a reporter for KQED, described it this way:
You know [the alt-right] is guiltiest when they say, “look at them, we’re not the only ones.” They’re not arguing whether the [car attack] was actually committed, they’re just trying to bring everyone down in the muck with them.
Showing the difference between these two groups visually is a great way to demonstrate what’s really going on. It may not work with extremists. But you have a chance with folks who are asking questions like, “How do we separate ourselves from radical Republicans?”
The white supremacist “alt-right” is the Republican base. So long as Republican politicians continue to win by playing to neo-Nazis and white supremacists, they will continue to do it. It’s clear our current president is going to egg the neo-Nazis on and excuse them rather than disavow them. Separating from these folks is clearly the right idea.
David Akadjian is the author of The Little Book of Revolution: A Distributive Strategy for Democracy (also available as an ebook).
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