A story posted this morning by the Washington Post caught my eye. Entitled “How white supremacists split a quiet Rust Belt town,” it describes the resurgence of the Klan and other white supremacist groups in the little (pop. 650) town of Ulysses, PA and its surrounding Potter County since Trump was elected president.
Despite its size, Ulysses has an unquestioned national significance.
The guy who directs the state chapter of the National Socialist Movement, Daniel Burnside, lives there. The NSM is one of the groups that went to Charlottesville last year to defend the Confederate statutes. Burnside owns a Nazi memorabilia store on the west side of the city. He attributes white racist growth directly to President Trump, telling the Post reporter:
“I can tell you with certainty that since November 2016, activity has doubled, whether it’s feet on the street or money orders or people helping out.”
“November 2016” is an obvious point of reference.
The story makes for an interesting look at the new dynamics of white supremacy within the context of Trump’s apparent political endorsement of their ideology. It’s probably pretty pointless to argue that Trump isn’t responsible when the things that he says– repeatedly– are interpreted by racist groups to support their points of view. While everything said by right-wing extremists– or left-wing extremists, for that matter– should be taken with a grain of salt, it is interesting that a white supremacist leader feels that when it comes to white racists and Trump:
“You won’t necessarily see MAGA hats at an NSM meeting. We’re anti-Semitic. Something’s off about Trump with the Jews. That said, we’re strategically aligned. When Trump says something that aligns with us — close the borders, build the wall, look after your own — that’s good: We’ve been saying this for 25 years, but he has made it mainstream.”
Here’s the article, with the interviews. Form your own opinion.