Deconstructed Special: Is Donald Trump Inciting Far-Right Terror in the U.S.?

Contrary to Donald Trump’s warnings, terrorists weren’t coming from Mexico or Syria; they were here in America, and some of them attended his rallies.

Clockwise from bottom left: Supporters hold up "Make America Great Again" hats at a Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 2018; Members and supporters of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the U.S., hold a rally on April 21, 2018 in Newnan, Ga.; Members of NSM hold a swastika burning after the rally in Draketown, Ga.
Photos: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, Spencer Platt/Getty Images (2); Photo Illustration: The Intercept

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Over the past few days, 11 people were massacred in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the country’s top Democrats have been targeted with pipe bombs, a black man and woman were executed in a grocery store in Kentucky. It turns out that, contrary to Donald Trump’s warnings, terrorists weren’t coming from Mexico or Syria; they were here in America, and some of them attended his rallies. Trump, of all people, shouldn’t be shocked and stunned by the rise of white nationalism and antisemitism in America: he has repeatedly retweeted white supremacist Twitter accounts, accepted campaign donations from white nationalist leaders, picked a white nationalist favorite — Steve Bannon — as his campaign chair and then White House chief strategist, and was officially endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and was at first reluctant to disavow them. He also tried to rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focused solely on Islamist and not white nationalist extremism and praised neo Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people.” On this special episode of Deconstructed, Mehdi Hasan is joined by former Department of Homeland Security senior domestic terrorism analyst Daryl Johnson and Christian Picciolini, a former neo Nazi who left the movement and devoted his life to peace advocacy and deradicalization, to discuss America’s descent into far right terror.

Picciolini: When Trump said he was a nationalist, I think that that was the biggest boon for recruitment for white supremacy that we’ve seen since the film “The Birth of a Nation” came out in the early 1900s and caused four million people to join the Klan.

[music interlude]

Mehdi Hasan: I’m Mehdi Hasan. Welcome to this special episode of Deconstructed. Eleven dead in a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
News anchor: The deadliest attack on Jews in American history.

MH: The nation’s top Democrats targeted with pipe bombs in the mail.

News anchor 2: The portrait emerging of 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc Jr. revealing a man obsessed with his support for President Trump.

MH: Two black people executed in a grocery store in Kentucky.

News anchor 3: The deadly shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

MH: It turns out that all those terrorists that Donald Trump warned us about weren’t coming here from the Middle East or from Mexico, they weren’t hiding in a caravan from Honduras, they were here all along. Some of them even attended his rallies. White nationalists, neo-Nazis, domestic terrorists. Call them what you want – personally, I think we should call them the real base of the Donald Trump movement.

And on today’s show I want to get to the bottom of what’s behind this part of his movement, this explosion of white nationalist violence with my guests, former Department of Homeland Security senior domestic terrorism analyst Daryl Johnson who tried to warn us all about the threat posed by white nationalists almost a decade ago, and Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who left the movement and has devoted his life to peace advocacy and de-radicalization.

Daryl Johnson: This administration has the opportunity to finally kind of quell this heightened state of activity on the part of these white nationalists, and rather than doing that, he’s pouring fuel on the fire.

MH: So today on Deconstructed: Is Donald Trump inciting far-right terrorism in the United States?

[music interlude]

MH: There have been some deeply insensitive and frankly, insane statements from the president of the United States over the past few days in the wake of this horrific wave of domestic terrorism. On Friday afternoon, he led his followers in a chant of “Lock him up” in reference to Jewish billionaire and Democratic donor George Soros just days after Soros had a pipe bomb mailed to him, allegedly, by a Trump supporter.

Donald Trump: They’re called globalists. They like, they like the globe. I like the globe too. I like the globe too but we have to take care of our people. We have to.

Crowd member: Lock him up!

DT: Globalists. (laughs) Lock him up.

MH: On Saturday afternoon, he told his fans that maybe he should have canceled a political event that day. Not because of the massacre at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh that morning, but because he got his hair wet in the rain while commenting on that massacre.

DT: I said, “maybe I should cancel this arrangement because I have a bad hair day”. And the bad news, somebody said “Actually it looks better than it usually does.”

MH: Hilarious, but for me one ludicrous statement stood out in particular above all the others.

DT: Our nation and the world are shocked and stunned by the grief. This was an anti-Semitic act. You wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age.

MH: Sorry, what? Of all the people who shouldn’t be shocked and stunned by this, who shouldn’t have assumed it was impossible, is the president of the United States who has done more than any other person to make such attacks possible. And I’m not just talking about his refusal to bring in any kind of gun control measures over the past two years but also his connections to, his ties to the white nationalist hate movement itself.

This is a president who has repeatedly retweeted white supremacist Twitter accounts; who appointed a white nationalist to be one of his delegates in California; who accepted campaign donations from white nationalist leaders, picked a white nationalist favorite, Steve Bannon, as his campaign chair and then White House chief strategist; who ran anti-Semitic campaign ads; who was officially endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and was at first reluctant to disavow them; who tried to rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focused solely on Islamist and not white nationalist extremism; who praised neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people;” whose chief economic adviser recently hosted a white nationalist at his birthday party; and who as recently as last week was pushing a theory about devious globalists, aka Jews, paying people to bring immigrants and terrorists into the U.S. from Mexico and the Middle East in order to change America. A racist, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that was embraced in full, I might add, by the alleged killer of those 11 Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

And look, to be shocked and stunned by anti-Semitism or by far-right violence of any kind is absurd given hate crimes against Jews and against Muslims were at record highs even before these latest attacks. Given also what happened in Charlottesville. Some of in fact us have been warning about the threat posed by white nationalists for a while now.

In May 2017, I wrote a piece for The Intercept headlined “The Numbers Don’t Lie: White Far-Right Terrorists Pose a Clear Danger to Us All.” A piece in which I wrote quote: “Today, the terror threat from far-right white supremacists is the terror threat that dare not speak its name.” And I got pushback for that, I was accused of trying to downplay the terror threat from Muslims, of trying to deflect attention away from ISIS and onto domestic white terrorists.

People didn’t want to listen. And they didn’t want to listen either back in 2009, almost a decade ago, when Daryl Johnson, then the senior domestic extremism analyst for the Department of Homeland Security was warning about the threat from a resurgent right-wing extremism. Republicans lost their minds, conservative media attacked him and the Obama administration abandoned him. Daryl joins me now here in the studio, as does Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi, author of the recent memoir “White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out” and he’s also the founder of the global intervention network Free Radicals, which tries to get other neo-Nazis out of that movement.

Daryl, Christian, thank you both for joining me on this special episode of Deconstructed. I want to try and answer two main questions in the time we have today. Number one: What role in your view has Donald Trump, his election, his presidency, played in inciting or inspiring domestic terrorism from the far-right? And number two: How do we put the violent genie of white nationalism and far-right extremism back in the bottle, or is it too late?

But before we get to that let me start by asking you both: What was your reaction when you heard the tragic news on Saturday about the massacre in Pittsburgh? Daryl?

DJ: I mean, it’s a terrible, horrific tragedy. Unfortunately, we’ve had too many of these events over the past 10 years, so it didn’t surprise me one bit.

MH: Christian?

CP: Mehdi, I would say the same as Daryl. You know, unfortunately, over the last 20 years, this is something that I’ve been talking about quite a bit as the rise of you know, far-right extremism. And in fact, since 9/11 more Americans have been killed on U.S. soil by white supremacists and the far-right than by any other foreign or domestic terrorist group combined.

This is a problem. It’s not something that’s new to our country. It’s something that has been part of our fabric since the beginning; and unfortunately, now, with the power in the administration saying some of the same policy points as these white supremacists believe they feel very emboldened and that’s a word we hear quite a bit.

MH: And Christian when you hear the president of the United States saying on Saturday after the Pittsburgh attack “You wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age,” that’s either ignorance or dishonesty.

CP: Yeah, you know, maybe a little bit of both. Certainly, it’s you know, since America’s founding millions of people of color have been killed in the name of white supremacy and even today in our systemic and institutional racism. It exists, you know. When you ask most people—most people of color—about racism, they’ll actually talk to you more about systemic racism. And when you talk to white people about racism, it’s more about interpersonal racism. And I think you know the idea that white extremists can’t be terrorists, or aren’t labeled as such, is something that I think that is affecting our society and we don’t hold, it doesn’t hold the same level of fear and hatred towards the terrorists that are committing these acts when that person has black or brown skin.

MH: Daryl, Christian mentioned how more Americans have been killed on U.S. soil by domestic groups than by “foreign jihadists.” There was a study out in September that showed almost two-thirds of the terror attacks in the U.S. last year in 2017 were carried out by right wing extremists. You worked in government, in the Department of Homeland Security – is this a point that is acknowledged by experts in the field within government? Forget the politicians, forget the Republicans in Congress or the president. People, analysts in government, do they acknowledge? Is this accepted?

DJ: Across the board, really not because a lot of the analysts who have focused on international terrorism are totally in the dark when it comes to domestic non-Islamic terrorism. So, I think there’s a lot of ignorance out there, misunderstandings, you know. It doesn’t help when you have government leaders and administrations that are putting forth the notion that the only form of terrorism are from those with brown skin with funny sounding names who dress differently.

So, it needs to be acknowledged. It needs to be called out. And one of the things I’ve been trying to educate the public about is these acts that we often dismiss as you know hate crime, or the act of a crazed gunman, are in fact, ideologically motivated and meet the definition of terrorism.

MH: And they get not called terrorism by the media. And we’ll come back to that in a moment. Just on being ignored in government and you know not taken seriously—you of course, produced this report in 2009 for the DHS warning of a resurgent right-wing extremism after the election of the first black president, after a financial crash. Last year, you wrote a piece for the Washington Post saying “I warned of right-wing violence in 2009, Republicans objected. I was right.”

Tell us what happened in 2009. What did the Republicans do? What did the Obama administration do? Because we hear so much criticism of the Trump administration when it comes to tackling far-right extremism. What did the Obama administration do with your report and with your unit?

DJ: Well, unfortunately, it was a young administration. Janet Napolitano had just been sworn in as Secretary of Homeland Security. The report was published in the very beginning of April of 2008 or 2009. So, she had only been in her position for three months. The Public Affairs Office was just getting up and running with its political appointees.

So, I think the media backlash from Fox News and then the Congressional backlash from the Republicans really caught the administration off guard. And initially, they tried to defend it but then as the outcry from you know, the conservatives and Republicans grew, they pretty much backed away from it and decided to just cave in to the political pressure.

MH: And within the space of a year according to your Washington Post piece, “there were no intelligent analysts at DHS working on domestic terrorism threats.” That’s astonishing.

DJ: Yeah, basically we were put under pressure. First, we were reassigned to do other analytical duties. They kind of told us in the interim, this is just going to be a short-term temporary assignment but then as the months drew on and we started seeing the handwriting on the wall that they were not going to reconstitute the effort.

MH: There’s a horrible way to be vindicated, isn’t it? You’re not happy about being proved right. You warn people years ago, even before Trump, and people don’t listen to you.

DJ: Yeah, it’s very sobering. It’s also very frustrating because you know, as an intelligence professional I was trained, you know, to do my job; and I did it to the best of my ability and pretty much because of the political firestorm that ensued the message got lost.

MH: So, conservatives were not happy in 2009, 2010 with what you were saying. Donald Trump becomes president and you have a conservative president and a Republican party that’s even more bent on focusing on “Islamist jihadist threat” and not focusing on domestic extremist threats.

Christian, your organization at the time “Life After Hate,” which you co-founded, which helped neo-Nazis get out of the movement as you did, and we’ll come to your story in a moment, but your organization had its funding cut as soon as Donald Trump became president, didn’t it?

CP: Yeah, we applied for a grant under the Obama administration. That was part of a DHS Grant and we had won it. We were going to develop an online intervention program to essentially intervene in situations just like the situation in Pittsburgh prior to those events happening. So much radicalization is happening online. And then the administration changed.

We were patiently waiting for a $400,000 check. And out of the 31 groups that were promised this grant, it came back under Trump’s administration that they reassessed the rules and out of the 31 groups, we were the only organization that was rescinded its funding. And interestingly enough, we were the only organization that was completely focused on thwarting white supremacist recruitment.

MH: Wow, so this is not accidental stuff. This is willful. This is intentional. Let me ask you this, as someone who has moved out of the neo-Nazi far-right movement, how important is it to have organizations like “Free Radicals,” like “Life After Hate” with funding from the government or anyone else providing some support to people who want to leave that movement, who want to leave a life of hate behind?

CP: I think it’s critical. We have social services for other parts of our society that are struggling, that may be marginalized. And just like the thousands of foreign fighters who will be coming back from places like Syria in the future, you know, we’re facing a situation where we have potentially, you know, hundreds of, thousands of young people who are now part of this white nationalist or alt-right movement who are going to need to find a way, to find support, to leave those types of movements in the future.

You know, it was very difficult for me to leave the white supremacist movement when I was 23 years old and in ’95 because, not because of the ideology. I had questioned the ideology for the eight years that I was involved. What was difficult was leaving that sense of identity, community, and purpose behind. It was all that I had known in my life. And that was the biggest roadblock for me actually disengaging.

MH: And Christian, when you look at someone like Robert Bowers, the alleged shooter in Pittsburgh who has a long history of kind of neo-Nazi like and anti-Semitic and conspiratorial and hateful statements on social media, do you look at him and say wow that’s someone potentially, we could have helped?

CP: Absolutely, you know, in fact, most of the people that I work with; and I’ve worked with you know hundreds to help them disengage, you know, Bowers’ story is very typical of the people that I work with: radicalized through online propaganda and conspiracy theories, you know, marginalized through most of their youth, found a sense of identity and community in this movement, and because perhaps they may have known nothing else in their lives and they may have felt powerless, this brings them that power that they need, and when they decide to take it to the next level, and become a lone wolf or to act in the name of their ideology. There are lots of people like that out there.

You know, at one point in my life, being a fairly well-adjusted kid, there were moments where I was stockpiling weapons and preparing for a race war and encouraging other people to do so. You know, and there are people who gravitate to these movements because part of what the recruiters do is they’re looking for vulnerable people that they can get swoop in and promise paradise to, essentially. And that’s a common theme not just with white supremacist, but in all types of extremist movements. It’s about painting the other as you know, subhuman and evil and that must be eliminated.

MH: So, when we talk about painting the other as evil, let’s cut to the chase. What role does the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States Donald Trump play in all of this? This morning Monday morning, he tweeted that, he tweeted “Another attack on ‘the fake news media.’ The true enemy of the people” he called them. He also tweeted about an invasion from this caravan from Honduras and invasion of gang members and very bad people.

This is what he tweeted after the worst attack on Jews in American history, allegedly by a guy who believed that this caravan was coming to invade us with terrorists and other people who were going to change America. How is that not incitement Daryl Johnson?

DJ: It is incitement and I’ve been talking about this at least for the past three or four years, about the tone of the rhetoric. Blaming the victims, in this case, by saying “Well, if you would have had an armed guard in your synagogue, you could have prevented this attack from happening.”

That’s the wrong answer. He needs to be condemning the ideologies that create these fertile grounds for people to scapegoat and to target other people and to mobilize the violence. He needs to denounce the conspiracy theories rather than perpetuate them. He needs to change his language. Using words such as nationalism, referring to himself as a nationalist.

MH: But he’s just proved today, he’s not going to do any of that.

DJ: Right, talking about globalism—

MH: If we thought he was going to do any of that after a massacre, he’s made it clear Sunday, Monday. He’s not going to do that.

DJ: Right and so, what he’s doing is these are coded words that are being interpreted by extremists as a green light to go and do their violence against these targets. So, you got to be very careful with the words that you choose and how you’re framing it.

I’ve been extremely disappointed. I think you know, this administration has the opportunity to finally kind of quell this heightened state of activity on the part of these white nationalists and rather than doing that, he’s pouring fuel on the fire and causing it to ignite higher.

MH: Daryl, what would you say to a defender of Donald Trump who says “Hold on, he didn’t invent this stuff. This has been around for a while. You yourself were writing a report under Obama in 2009. How can you blame Donald Trump for something that precedes Donald Trump?” What would you say to them?

DJ: I would say that yes, this vile ideology has existed for decades, but you’re main-streaming it. You know, 20 years ago, when I started my analytical career, in order to find out about these conspiracy theories and to find out about white nationalism, you actually had to know somebody. You had to go somewhere. Now—

MH: It’s in your face. It’s on Fox News, Fox and Friends.

DJ: Right, it’s being spoon-fed to you on the internet and the anonymity of your own home.

MH: Christian, you were a neo-Nazi back during the Reagan years, the George Bush Sr. years, the Bill Clinton years. How would you and your then far-right comrades have reacted had Reagan or Bush or Clinton started saying the kind of stuff that Trump has been saying about immigrants and terrorists and globalists and very fine people on both sides?

CP: Well, we would have reacted as though we had permission to be violent, to be vocal about our beliefs. And you know, what it really comes down to is extremist movements feast on our brokenness and fear. Those are the two elements and the primary sources of sustenance for them to thrive. And in fact, their ability rests on you know, their ability to keep those conditions of brokenness and fear going.

So, not only are they, you know, feeding us with the fuel that we need to be extreme, but they’re also creating the conditions that keep us there, and that is the scariest thing to me. Donald Trump is following the playbook of you know, white supremacists in the sense that he’s not coming out and saying he’s a white supremacist. He’s using, you know, dog whistles and policy to reinforce what they believe without, you know, claiming that he is one. So, you know, we’re in this time now where we need to decide what America is in the future.

MH: Although in some ways Christian, he’s gone beyond dog whistles now. It’s more like a foghorn. I mean when he says “I’m a nationalist. People say you shouldn’t say it, but you can call me a nationalist.” He knows exactly what he’s doing. Daryl, you said in your Washington Post piece last year “Extremists no longer hide anymore,” referring to this kind of mainstreaming of extremism. In a sense, does that make it easier then if there was a future government or administration that wants to tackle these people? That they’re now out in the open—if there was a strategy, if we had a different president who gave a damn about this stuff, would it be easier in a sense to kind of crack down on them, if I can use that phrase?

DJ: I don’t think that would be a very easy task. I mean, even if Donald Trump were to stop all of the heated rhetoric and you know the dog whistles and the policies that he’s putting forth that’s basically playing into these extremists’ hands, it’s going to take you know months, if not years, for it to deescalate in the population and in these extremist movements.

That was one of the fears of the Obama administration, I believe, was the fact that they didn’t want to crack down on these groups because it would just feed into their greatest fears and paranoia and push more people to violence and radicalization.

MH: Christian, is it too late to put the genie back in the bottle? Is there a way of winning this battle against domestic far-right terrorism, against the ideology that’s behind an ideology you once succumbed to, given that for 17 odd years now we’ve miserably failed to win the battle against “Islamist or jihadist terrorism?”

CP: You know, I believe so. I’m hopeful. You know, I’ve seen more people activated to try and do good today more than I ever have in my life. You know, it really comes down to changing the way our society is. There’s certain things that we haven’t acknowledged as an American society. We haven’t acknowledged that the Holocaust that happened on our own soil 250 years ago where millions of people were killed. We’re teaching history different depending on our geography in the United States.

In the North and I speak to a lot of high school students in the North, you know, we learn about slavery, the Civil War being about slavery, whereas in the South many times when I ask, it’s about states’ rights or Northern aggression. You know—

MH: You say you’re hopeful, Christian. You say you’re hopeful. Let me put it this way: are things going to get worse before they get better? That’s what it feels like to me with this president.

CP: Yeah, I do think that they’re going to get worse before they get better. And I think that the government does have an important role. You know, we’re engaged in a code war now. It’s not a cold war anymore. We’re fighting online propaganda, and conspiracy theories, and foreign actors who are trying to propagate this information so that our own people are fighting against each other. And I think that, you know, cutting off the source at least, from a foreign perspective of all this information coming in, this fake news and propaganda, I think would have a massive impact.

MH: Daryl, do you think Trump and the Republicans and the conservative pundits and Fox News and Breitbart and even parts of the liberal media which have failed so miserably to cover this story properly, failed to use the terrorist word in relation to white guys at home – Do you think they realize exactly what kind of fire they’re playing with? What they’ve been encouraging wittingly or unwittingly in recent years?

DJ: I believe they do. Based on my understanding of, you know, Republican fundraising efforts in the past, especially for the 2008 presidential election. They use a deliberate tactic of dehumanizing Barack Obama. You know, characterizing him as a Muslim, characterizing him as a foreigner, characterizing him as a citizen of another country.

This was a deliberate strategy. As part of the Republican fundraising efforts leading up to the 2008 election. And so, I think even in past elections, they try to generate fear, paranoia in the hopes of getting those conservative Democrats to swing the vote over into their favor so that they can get leadership into key positions.

CP: And I think it even goes further than that. I think it’s you know, policy. It’s redlining. It’s you know, gerrymandering and things like that that are part of a systemic problem that keep people from voting, is part of the issue as well to maintain power.

MH: Christian, you’re an expert on far-right groups. You were in a far-right group. When you look at the modern Republican party—I mean, I’m a British immigrant living in the U.S. I come from an outside perspective. Other conservative parties in the West are not like this one. When you look at the Republican party now as a former member of a far-right group is it fair to call it a far-right party now?

CP: I would say it’s very accurate today. At least outwardly and visibly speaking, it’s a much more far-right political party than it ever was.

MH: And Daryl just before we finish, just a point you made in your Washington Post piece last year about the difference between the types of terrorism that United States faces right now. One thing I always find interesting is people say “Well, you can’t compare the domestic threat to the ‘Islamist threat.’ They’ve brought down the Twin Towers. They’ve killed far more people.” But for me, and correct me if I’m wrong, it’s much more insidious to have a domestic far-right threat, which has a domestic constituency, which has the support of politicians, prominent members of the media, cable news hosts, which has people willing to justify it, rationalize it in the way we never would about Al-Qaeda or ISIS in the mainstream. Is that fair?

DJ: I think so and plus you have a threat, although it’s lower in scale when it comes to the actual violence and the number of people killed, it’s persistent. It’s happening, you know every month.

MH: There’s more of these attacks.

DJ: Yes, and so over time, you know, the damage done and the number of fatalities, you know, is scary. Do we spend all of our resources to protect against an attack that may happen once every 25 years? Or should we have a balanced approach to our threat assessment and combat what’s the greatest threat, what’s happening most frequently, but also be on guard against that mass-casualty producing attack?

I think a more balanced approach with resources and at the federal level would do much better service than to just focus so much resources and money at an overseas threat that happens, you know once every quarter century.

MH: Christian when you hear the president making these remarks, when you see the stuff that’s being trafficked online, how much of this plays into “radicalization?” How much is this what attracted people like yourself to the movement in the 80s? When you look at the—you know, a lot of us looking at these guys and wondering, how can there be such hateful people in our midst?

CP: You know, I think that there are people who were already radical but I think for the folks who were on the edge so much of what Trump says is pushing them over that edge. It’s solidifying in them what maybe they thought, what they were afraid to say out loud, but now that they feel that there’s some agency behind those ideas, you know, they’re grasping them. You know, uncles are fighting with, you know, nieces and nephews at family gatherings.

I mean, it’s really, it’s seeped into every aspect of our society. So, I suspect that and I know, you know, the words that are being said are emboldening people. When Trump said he was a nationalist, I think that that was the biggest boon for recruitment for white supremacy that we’ve seen since maybe the film “The Birth of a Nation” came out and, you know the early 1900s and caused four million people to join the Klan.

I think that it’s become so normalized to people who are susceptible to this message that they’re grasping at and are becoming far more extreme.

MH: Christian, Daryl, thank you both for joining me on Deconstructed.

CP: Thank you.

DJ: Thank you.

[music interlude]

MH: That was Daryl Johnson, ex-Department of Homeland Security, and Christian Picciolini, ex-neo-Nazi. A fascinating if depressing discussion. You heard Christian say it: things are going to get worse before they get better. Why? Because the president of the United States is busy inciting far-right groups rather than stopping them. And the entire Republican Party, which is more of a white nationalist party these days, than a conventional conservative party, is complicit. Donald Trump didn’t invent white nationalism in America but he’s given it the biggest boost in living memory, and that too from the bully pulpit of the Oval Office. If that doesn’t get you to the polls next week, I don’t know what will.

That’s our show. Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept and is distributed by Panoply. Our producer is Zach Young. Dina Sayedahmed is our production assistant. Leital Molad is our executive producer. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Betsy Reed is The Intercept’s editor in chief.

I’m Mehdi Hasan. You can follow me on Twitter @MehdirHasan. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the show so you can hear it every week. Go to to subscribe from your podcast platform of choice, iPhone, Android, whatever. If you’re subscribed already, please do leave us a rating or review – it helps people find the show. And if you want to give us feedback, email us at

Thanks so much! We’ll be back with our regular episode on Thursday. See you then.

Correction: October 31, 2018
A previous version of this article misstated the gender of one of the Kentucky shooting victims. The victims were a man and a woman, not two men.


Top image, clockwise from bottom left: Supporters hold up “Make America Great Again” hats at a Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 2018; Members and supporters of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the U.S., hold a rally on April 21, 2018 in Newnan, Ga.; Members of NSM hold a swastika burning after the rally in Draketown, Ga.

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