Trump Will Double Down On Far-Right Support After the Election29 Oct 2020
If the first US Presidential “debate” (for the lack of a better word) demonstrated one thing, it was that the far-right will remain a real threat in the near-future.
It also made clear that Trump, who came to power with far-right and white supremacist support through overt racism and Islamophobia, will not abandon his most extreme supporters even as they grow increasingly violent.
Instead, rocked by an election that is looking increasingly unpredictable; failures over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak; and the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests, he will double down on support for the far-right.
This is not just bad news for American Muslims, but also British and European Muslims too. Trump’s ascent to power energised far-right movements in Europe as well as the US, unleashing a growing and increasingly-militant tide of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
Such tide is unlikely to die down even if he loses and may, in fact, grow even more violent.
Trump’s Far-Right Base Became Increasingly Visible Since 2016
Much has been said about the 2016 elections and how Trump gained the support of the US far-right through a series of coded statements and open incitement. About how he rode a wave of dissatisfaction with economic inequality and status-quo politics and was bolstered by white resentment towards increasingly-prominent and prosperous minorities.
This, combined with fear-mongering by far-right groups over “demographic change” and the refugee crisis, made for a toxic chain of events that gave us Brexit, the Trump Presidency, and the mainstreaming of far-right parties in Europe, even in countries where the prevalence of such parties would be unthinkable a scant few years ago.
I will not tread the same lines. However, I will point out that in the four years since Trump became President, the already-feeble pretensions of not supporting the far-right have fallen by the wayside. From Charlottesville in 2017, when a far-right supporter ran over anti-fascist protesters, killing one, to defending Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot an anti-fascist protester in August, Trump went from tacitly enabling the far-right to becoming their champion.
This culminated in the Presidential debate with Joe Biden during which Trump was asked to condemn far-right groups such as the Proud Boys. Not only Trump did not condemn them, he told them to “stand by”, citing antifascists as an even greater threat.
This was widely perceived as a call to arms among the far-right.
Far from denouncing the extremist elements among his supporters to gain wider electoral appeal, Trump is doing what every autocrat with flagging powers is doing: doubling down on the support of his most hard-core supporters.
Trump’s Far-Right Support Will Have Wide Ramifications Around the World
For some, Trump’s antics and the growing extremism of his supporters may be a far-flung concern. However, what happens with the election will have direct impacts on our lives here?
Already, Trump has shown support for Britain First in the UK and the German far-right and neo-Nazi movements. In Norway, a far-right MP nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize. The effects can be felt as far as India where the western far-right is in an alliance-of-convenience with the Hindu-nationalist Hindutva movement. Trump is known to have a friendship with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi whose government acquitted the Hindutva mobs who destroyed the Babri Masjid in 1992, triggering widespread riots that killed hundreds.
If Trump wins the election, he will view it as a validation of his policies and push even harder, just like other autocrats do.
Muslims may not be Enemy Number 1 here and now. In fact, the current rhetoric is tilting toward targeting the anti-racism movement, the anti-fascist movement, the LGBT+ movement and the wider left. However, we must not forget that anything outside the heteronormative white, western Christian chauvinist and misogynist is an enemy for the far-right. And just as Trump leveraged Muslim lives for support once, he will do so again when the time comes.
If he loses, the spectre of the far-right will not disappear. Instead, bolstered by a narrative of stolen election and feeling that the avenues of legitimate politics have been exhausted, they will turn violent. Already, the Proud Boys and the others seem to be readying for a violent confrontation on the election day.
Just as us Muslims have woken up to the presence of extremists whose threat was not appreciated or was boosted by irresponsible governments or press outlets, many Europeans and Americans are waking up to the threat of extremists among their own.
It is imperative for us to mobilise together, build bridges with all those who find a common enemy among the far-right. Ultimately, the threat we face is a common one.