Hillary Clinton shared a laundry list of inconvenient truths about Donald Trump’s empowering of hate and other fringe groups during her speech in Reno on Thursday.
She put economic discussions on hold to remind voters about the Trump campaign’s divisive rhetoric as the Republican presidential nominee attempts to soften his commentary on immigration and minorities.
“From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties,” she said and added “there’s been a steady stream of bigotry” coming from the campaign since its launch last year.
Clinton made reference to Trump’s hesitation to disavow support from David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, his spreading of white supremacist propaganda and perpetuation of conspiracy theories. She also linked those groups to what’s known as the “Alt-Right,” or alternative right, movement, a millennial brand of conservatism that unapologetically ties societal problems to race and aggressively confronts political correctness. Many see Trump as amplifying alt-right politics and bringing it mainstream.
Earlier this month, Trump appointed one of the leading purveyors of alt-right news to lead his campaign. Stephen Bannon, chairman of Breitbart News, has assumed the role of the campaign’s chief executive officer. The website Breitbart (if you visit, prepare to be inundated with pop-up ads) has been cheerleading Trump this election cycle even at the expense of staff members and has come to embrace the label of alt right.
However, the alt right has yet to formally establish itself as its ideas mostly spawned online by mostly anonymous supporters, said Nicole Hemmer, who authored the book Messengers of the Right, an exploration of the affects of new age conservative media, in an interview with NPR. She said the group has a mix of beliefs about white nationalism, anti-feminism and anti-progressivism.
“It’s also about, at least in part, saying the most unthinkable thing possible because they believe that strikes a blow against political correctness,” Hemmer said. “They see political correctness really as the greatest threat to their liberty. So they believe that saying racist or anti-Semitic things, it’s not an act of hate, but an act of freedom.”
During Clinton’s speech, people in the niche conservative movement used the hashtag #AltRightMeans on social media to not just define the ideology but also to anonymously slam Muslims, immigrants in the U.S. illegally and others they see as a threat to their vision of America, the Associated Press reported.
Trump responded to Clinton’s characterization of his campaign by calling her a “bigot” and arguing that her policies are a personal reflection because she knows they are destined to fail minority communities, according to his interview with CNN. “She is selling them down the tubes because she’s not doing anything for those communities. She talks a good game. But she doesn’t do anything,” Trump said. (To be clear, that’s not the definition of a bigot.)
Shortly after Clinton’s speech, the Trump campaign, which has taken every opportunity to create a caricature of legitimate criticisms of Clinton, fired off a statement to direct attention to her email scandal and allege she committed fraud during her term as Secretary of State.
Others have criticized Clinton for her speech as well, saying her dedicating an entire 30-minute speech to the alt right gave it more credibility whereas before it was limited to the dark corners of the Internet.