If you tuned in to CNN earlier today, you might have found yourself greeted by a chyron that could have been ripped straight out of a Newt Gingrich Nazi fanfic: Alt-Right Founder Questions If Jews Are People. The real question, of course, is whether our president-elect should distance himself from an explicit group of neo-Nazis. And according to CNN, the answer is a resounding “WEELLLL ...”
Watching ostensibly educated adults grapple with whether our soon-to-be president should take the political risk of denouncing a strain of outright neo-Nazism that poses the question of whether Jews are actually human beings is a bizarre and wholly insane experience, so let’s walk through this together.
An anchor whom no one seems to be able to name but who looks suspiciously like Jason Sudeikis in Mitt Romney makeup starts us on our journey:
Richard Spencer, he’s the man who actually coined that term, “alt-right.” He was in Washington this weekend. He was spewing, as he often does, what I can only describe as hate-filled garbage. Of Jews, Spencer said ... “One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem.”
Does President Trump need to formally denounce and disavow these groups as a whole?
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Are Jews in fact soulless golem? That’s a question for another day. For now, CNN wants to focus on whether it’s good or bad for Trump to align himself with “these groups.” The groups he’s referring to, of course, are neo-Nazis—people who explicitly identify themselves as Nazis. So we’ll call them the alt-right just to be safe.
Real Clear Politics’s Rebecca Berg takes a stab:
Well he has in the past. Over the course of the campaign, he was asked this question a few times regarding David Duke, regarding more generally the alt-right and some of their more ethno-nationalist sentiments. And he did denounce them. But because this keeps popping up—and because he chose Steve Bannon, and because there’s some controversy over that—certainly there’s some people that are urging him to do so again.
There’s a risk inherent in that, because if he does denounce it, he’s raising this issue and lifting it to more prominence, lifting their message to more prominence. So I could see why they wouldn’t want to say anything. But I think the challenge for Trump and his team moving forward is going to be to assure people that people on the alt-right, white nationalists, do not have a voice in the Trump administration and do not have a place in the policies he’ll be crafting when he is president.
One way Trump might have assured people that white nationalists would not have a voice in his administration would have been to not give a white nationalist a role in his administration. Unfortunately, it’s too late for that.
Moving on, though, there are the optics to consider. Does Trump really want to risk alienating Nazis when they’ve been such devout, loyal supporters? According to Berg:
Part of this is also a political calculation. They found that they need these people in their coalition to succeed, so can they disown them and cleanse their coalition of these people?
Can they cleanse the undesirables, indeed. CNN, unfortunately, offers no answers. Instead, all we get is a lively debate of the pros and cons of the president-elect denouncing people who question whether Jews are human, because they have been loyal parts of the coalition that put him in office.
CNN will be airing live executions of staffers within six months.