Hillary Clinton’s speech on Thursday was supposed to expose to voters Donald Trump’s disturbing links to some of his white supremacist and conspiracy minded-supporters. That group included explicitly those on the alt-right, a loose confederation of racists and reactionaries active online who are broadly pro-Trump. The speech made the connection effectively by tying together statements made by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon, headlines ripped from the webpages of Bannon’s website, Breitbart, and Trump’s own statements and policy proposals, among other material, to paint the clearest picture yet of the latent bigotry behind Trump’s rise and the open bigotry of his most enthusiastic backers.
But the speech also elevated those backers to an entirely new level of prominence. Voters who didn’t have any clue that the alt-right existed will see that term plastered all over the news at least for the next couple of days. Conspiracymonger Alex Jones and the work of Breitbart writer and Twitter pariah Milo Yiannopoulos were directly referenced, as was the term “white genocide” in a passage condemning Trump for retweeting a white supremacist.
Naturally, the alt-right is thrilled.
This is Jared Taylor, editor of the white supremacist publication American Renaissance:
This is Matt Forney, a prominent men’s rights activist and “racial realist” that Slate’s Michelle Goldberg spoke with at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland:
And here’s Mike Cernovich, another men’s rights activist:
The 4chan message board “pol,” a major source of alt-right images and memes, waited patiently for its own shout out in the speech but didn’t get one. Still, posters were cheered by the attention the fringe was given, especially after CNN linked to the site in the wake of the speech.
“So /pol/ is actually, unironically, literally playing a fucking major part in the US presidential election,” one user asked incredulously. “How the fuck did this even happen?”
In her speech, Clinton referenced Trump’s kind words for Alex Jones in an appearance on his show after mentioning that Jones has said the American government perpetrated 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing. “Your reputation is amazing,” Trump told Jones. “I will not let you down.” Shortly after the speech, Jones only took a few minutes to correct Clinton on his position—9/11 was perpetrated by the Saudis with the government’s advance knowledge while Oklahoma City was obviously the government’s doing—before discussing with Infowars contributors the impact of his newfound attention.
“She doesn’t understand the Streisand effect,” one contributor said. “Attacking you is going to make you bigger and stronger.”
“All the people that are Googling you from her side saying ‘Who is this horrible person,’ they’re going to say, ‘Wow, actually all of this makes sense,’ ” that contributor continued. “So it’s 100% a victory, a major success.”