Capitol Attack Inquiry Reveals The Extraordinary Influence Of White Supremacist Ideology

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CJ Polychroniou

Without racism running deep in their DNA, Trump’s supporters would not have listened to a raving maniac president encouraging violence in order to remain in power.

As the Capitol attack inquiry began with emotional testimony by police officers who came face-to-face with Trump’s racist and proto-fascist mob, one cannot help but draw the conclusion that what happened on January 6, 2021, a day that will also live in infamy, is that the chickens came home to roost.

The racist system that has prevailed for nearly 250 years got for a taste of its own medicine on that day as a large crowd of white Americans attacked the very foundation of the country. Calling white police officers “traitors” and using racial slurs against black officers speak volumes about the mentality of Trump’s mob, which today has completely taken over the Republican party.

Make no mistake about it. Without racism running deep in their DNA, Trump’s supporters would not have listened to a raving maniac president encouraging violence in order to remain in power.
Trumpism is above all a racist movement, with strong proto-fascist principles, that compares favorably well to the political movement that dominated life in South Africa from 1948 through the 1990s.

Of course, the history of the United States, just like that of South Africa, has been locked in century-old patterns of bigotry, racism, and discrimination.

Lest we forget, even Hitler and the Nazis were inspired by America’s racist laws, as James Q. Whitman’s outstanding work Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law (Princeton University Press, 2008) has so powerfully revealed. Whitman argues that Nazi race theorists were not only impressed by America’s racist legislation and used it as a model for the Nuremberg Laws which were enacted in 1935, but even found some U.S. race laws to be too extreme!

In this context, any attempt to ignore or conceal the history of racism in the United States must be interpreted as beyond whitewashing history. Indeed, it should be treated as an explicit effort to keep in its place racial ideology and hegemonic whiteness.

And this is how Trump and his supporters should be treated: first, as 21st century racists who are bent on turning back the hands of time as America is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past; and, secondly, as proto-fascists who are willing to do anything, including the use of violence, in order to halt progressive political reform from taking place “in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” (a technique originally used by Adolph Hitler himself) was and remains a politically devious scheme to delegitimize democratic procedures and ensure in the process of doing so that conservative and reactionary America maintains power and keeps its values intact.

Unsurprisingly perhaps given America’s deep traditions of racism and nativism, the “Big Lie” is working exactly in the manner perceived by Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” More than two-thirds of Republicans believe in Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election was stolen, and it is absolutely clear that the most reactionary party in the advanced world today is more than willing to destroy what is left of American democracy to retake power.

As the testimony of the police officers at the first hearing of the Capitol attack inquiry has reaffirmed, there are very dark forces out there, and thus there is no room for complacency simply because Trump is out of office.

Also, one hopes that sooner or later Trump will eventually be charged with treason for inciting an insurrection against the United States government. But this is highly unlikely given what the orange maniac represents. Indeed, America still has along way to go before accepting the plague of racism in past and present. White supremacist ideology is still alive and kicking as testimony at the first January 6 hearing is making abundantly clear.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

C.J. Polychroniou is a political economist/political scientist who has taught and worked in numerous universities and research centers in Europe and the United States. His latest books are Optimism Over Despair: Noam Chomsky On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change” and “Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet (with Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin as primary authors)

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