Playing with Fire… Trump Stokes the Far-Right
US President Donald Trump has openly sided with far-right and white-supremacist groups who have been mobilising around opposition to the lockdown in several US states.
Far-right activists have staged demonstrations in several US states, brandishing machine guns and demanding an end to the lockdown. On one of the larger mobilisations in Michigan, gun-toting right-wingers wore pro- Trump caps and carried Trump flags. A similar demo in the Texan capital city Austin was broadcast on the far-right InfoWars channel run by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. In Ohio, anti-vaccine agitators joined with pro-gun activists to defy social-distancing regulations.
Trump responded by tweeting a call to ‘LIBERATE’ Michigan, Virginia and Minnesota. ‘They seem very responsible to me’, Trump said of the protesters. Some of the protests have been backed by groups funded by well-known Republicans donors, some with direct ties to Trump.
Trump is again demonstrating how he’s prepared to play with the fire of far-right activism to help mobilise his base for the Presidential election in November. He had hoped for low unemployment and a booming stock market in the run-up to the election– but the Covid-19 outbreak has reversed this, with unemployment up 16 million.
Trump’s approval ratings are at a six-month low of 43%, down from 54% in summer 2019; approval has plummeted in 17 states that are expected to be ‘battlegrounds’ in November.
UK far-right and fascist groupings are likely to seek to benefit from the US mobilisations and from Trump’s encouragement. The Tommy Robinson website defends Trump’s attacks on the World Health Organisation, while pushing racist anti-China merchandise. In the current times of crisis, we need to be alert to the danger of a far-right revival here in Britain.