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While Trump denies influence of hate groups, white nationalists appeal to alienated young men

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

By now, no one should be surprised to hear that the 28-year-old white supremacist who is accused of killing 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, cites this country's president, Donald Trump, as his inspiration.

"Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?" Australian national Brenton Tarrant asks himself in his rambling 74-page manifesto, consisting mostly of excerpts from other people's writings. "As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no."

Dear God, indeed. When Trump was asked if he thought hate groups were on the rise after the massacre at the New Zealand mosques, he said, "I don't think so." Experts say otherwise. It's hard to imagine that the president believes otherwise, after all that he has done, intentionally or otherwise, to fertilize that rise.

Among other examples of why the alleged Australian terrorist might have found some sense of shared "common purpose" with President Trump:

In 2011, Trump first raised the bogus claim that President Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim.

In November 2015, he falsely claimed that thousands of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the World Trade Center collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

 

The next month he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

In March 2016 he falsely claimed that "Islam hates us."

I hear on such occasions a far-right version of virtue-signaling. If he's not an Islamophobe -- and he insists he is not -- neither does he show any desire to alienate the bigots in his base.

Thus we get this nod-and-wink in his declaration after the August 2017 Charlottesville, Va., clash between white nationalists and anti-racists in which a woman was killed over the removal of a Confederate statue: "I think there is blame on both sides," the president told reporters. "You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

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(c) 2019 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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