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Expert To Media: "Stop Propagating The Repeatedly Denounced And Factually Incorrect Reports" Of Hate Group. "The Health Of LGBT Youth Depends On It."
In a post for Psychology Today’s blog, LGBTQ health expert Jack Turban urged news media to “stop propagating the repeatedly denounced and factually incorrect reports” from a discredited anti-LGBTQ hate group that masquerades as a legitimate medical organization.
The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a deceptively named extremist group with an estimated 200 to 500 members whose name is meant to be confused with the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). ACPeds has been designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for spreading malicious lies about LGBTQ people and deliberately misrepresenting legitimate research to attack LGBTQ equality.
While ACPeds was originally formed to protest the AAP’s support of same-sex adoption rights, lately the group has focused on spreading the false claim -- frequently on right-wing websites like Breitbart.com -- that medical care supporting transgender youth is tantamount to “child abuse.” Representatives from other anti-LGBTQ hate groups like the legal giant Alliance Defending Freedom Freedom have cited ACPeds’ anti-transgender misinformation when arguing against nondiscrimination protections for transgender youth at school board meetings.
In a May 8 blog post for Psychology Today, Jack Turban -- a research fellow focusing on child and adolescent psychiatry with a further focus on pediatric gender identity at the Yale School of Medicine -- urged the news media to stop citing the hate group as a reputable source. Turban, also an incoming resident child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital, called it “disturbing” that “news organizations and physicians” cite ACPeds as a reputable source. Noting ACPeds' growing political traction through its amicus briefs and other political testimony, Turban called for both the news media and individuals “to stop propagating” ACPeds’ “repeatedly denounced and factually incorrect reports,” saying that the “health of LGBT youth depends on it.”
From the Psychology Today blog post:
Did you read this headline and think I was accusing The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) of hating LGBT people? That’s the problem. A small anti-LGBT group called the “American College of Pediatricians (ACP)” intentionally designed its name to confuse the public into thinking it is the AAP, the largest pediatrics organization in the country.
It is disturbing that news organizations and physicians are citing the 'ACP' as a reputable source. The 'ACP' is a small group of physicians that left the AAP after the AAP released a 2002 policy statement explaining that gay parents pose no risk to adopted children. The Southern Poverty Law Center has repeatedly labeled the 'ACP' as a hate group that promotes false news and fabricated scientific reports. Perhaps more chilling, the group has moved beyond its online reports, deeper into the political arena. They have begun filing amicus briefs to US courts for major cases concerning LGBT rights. Their reports have gained traction, despite clear criticism from physicians with actual expertise in the field. When asked about the 'ACP,' Dr. Scott Leibowitz, medical director of the THRIVE program at Nationwide Children's Hospital and chair of the sexual orientation and gender identity issues committee for the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, did not parse his words, "It can hardly be a credible medical organization when it consistently chooses to ignore science and the growing evidence base that clearly demonstrates the benefits of affirmative care with LGBT youth across all ages."
I encourage news organizations and individuals to stop propagating the repeatedly denounced and factually incorrect reports from this organization. The health of LGBT youth depends on it.
In reporting on President Donald Trump's "religious liberty" executive order last week, some outlets highlighted important anti-LGBTQ details while others failed to acknowledge activists' extremism. The Washington Post fact-checked a Trump speech, exposing that it included a lie peddled by the hate group Family Research Council. Local papers The Orange County Register and Portland Business Journal exposed anti-LGBTQ hate groups Alliance Defending Freedom and Traditional Values Coalition in their coverage. National outlets -- including CNN, CBS, and USA Today -- spoke with anti-LGBTQ hate groups about the order but failed to identify the groups’ extremism, merely describing them as “conservative,” “evangelical,” and “faith” groups. Separately, NPR continued its streak of hosting hate group leaders without context.
Conservative media figures, right-wing media outlets, and fake news purveyors attacked Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) after she appeared at the MTV Movie and TV Awards as a presenter and received a standing ovation, calling her “dumb as a brick,” attacking her for her age, and claiming that she “worships at the feet of totalitarian monsters.”
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Fact Check: A Historic Number of Activists Have Taken To The Streets To Protest The Trump Regime
New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear claimed during the May 5 edition of CNN’s Inside Politics that there hasn’t been “the [same] kind of intense activism on the Democratic side” against President Donald Trump and his administration as there was “instantly in the Tea Party revolt” against former President Barack Obama.
Shear must not have been paying attention, because he couldn’t be more wrong about the scope of activism against Trump. Here are some numbers for Mr. Shear:
On Trump’s first day in office, an estimated 3.2 to 5.2 million people marched in the Women’s March across the United States and even more people marched around the world. There was even a march in Antarctica.
Estimates vary on attendance for marches and demonstrations opposing Trump’s proposed Muslim ban. But some estimates put 8,000 people at the U.S. Capitol and 10,000 people at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in New York. Others outlets estimated that 7,000 people protested at Los Angeles International Airport, and an activist leader told NBC that 12,000 signed up for the protest at Battery Park in New York.
An estimated 125,000 marched on April 15, the weekend before Tax Day, to demand that Trump release his tax returns. Shear’s New York Times even had a correspondent embedded with the Tax March in New York.
On Trump’s 100th day in office, roughly 200,000 people took part in the People’s Climate March in Washington to demand action against global climate change.
By contrast, the largest protest during Obama’s first few months was the Tea Party protest on Tax Day 2009. A nonpartisan analysis showed that it drew 300,000 total attendees across the country despite heavy promotion and participation by Fox News and major conservative donor groups.
This is a time of historic protests and activism against the bigoted and hateful policies of President Donald Trump. Activists have been central to the evolution of American democracy and have fought for policies that are more inclusive and that better their communities. Shear’s dismissal of the efforts of millions of Americans is line with the outdated tradition of mainstream news outlets speculating about and judging protests from a studio, rather than reporting real information from the scene or interviewing activists and protestors.
Media should do better.
Move Over Nerd Prom; Troll Prom Is In Town.
On April 29, about a mile away from the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, a little over a hundred members of a group who dubiously brand themselves as purveyors of the “real news” gathered in a downtown Washington cigar lounge to revel in their success. And the success is not insignificant - leveraging social media audiences to manufacture controversies and troll, they are now providing for their followers an increasingly expanding alternative to what they see as a hopelessly biased press.
At first glance, The Gateway Pundit's ‘80s-themed “Real News Correspondents Gala” -- billed as an alternative to the simultaneous "establishment media" dinner of the White House press corps -- was indistinguishable from a stereotypical Washington affair: The audience consisted of high-profile figures, apparent benefactors, and an insatiable crowd eager to network with anyone seemingly important. However, the standard, “What do you do?” networking question often preceded the more cultish reference to a new alternative right-wing: “How did you arrive at the movement?”
This movement has run rampant on new-media and is rapidly expanding throughout the internet. Its members have taken to social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Reddit, and YouTube to promote far-right nationalist politics, conspiracy-laden worldviews, and fact-flexible rants to an audience it has isolated and now dominates, shoddy journalistic practices aside, as its preferred news source. Their increasing reach over online subscribers has turned them into an asset for the White House, which has compensated members of this new media circuit -- often eager to undermine media reporting negatively on the administration -- with access to bring their paranoia straight into White House press briefings.
The event hosted and celebrated a handful of the most prominent members of the so-called “new right fam” (a transparent attempt at rebranding after their "alt-right" identification grew toxic) including “dumbest man on the internet” Jim Hoft, self-described “guerilla journalist” and fraud-peddling performance artist James O’Keefe, Rebel Media host Gavin McInnes, the White House’s favorite rape-denying troll, Mike Cernovich, Gateway Pundit White House correspondent and troll Lucian Wintrich, and “alt-right” figure Cassandra Fairbanks, who writes for the Russian state-sponsored outlet Sputnik.
The night took off with Hoft, who had donned a retro white headband and a pair of reflective sunglasses, welcoming guests to the shindig, giving shoutouts to a roster of speakers from the “alt-right” including McInnes and Wintrich, and presenting O’Keefe and Cernovich with awards for their “work.” The people Hoft introduced then took the floor to acknowledge that without that digital echo chamber, many in their movement would be virtually unknown. Cernovich reminisced about “Hillary’s health thing,” referring to rumors he helped push that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was chronically ill, whose spread “only happened because of the amplification of social media.”
But for a group that previously basked in its own isolation and claims to despise the Washington establishment media, the night was sharply punctuated by complaints that “the movement” -- shorthand many of its members now use in conversation to refer to these "alt-right" or “new right” online content creators and their acolytes -- and its message are not validated by mainstream reporting.
“Not only do they not do the journalism,” O’Keefe told attendees as he accepted an award for his own so-called journalism, “but they’re too afraid. ... We really are the only ones left to actually do the job.” For the record, O’Keefe’s journalism has included creating misleading and doctored “undercover” videos as well as embarrassing himself while attempting sting operations targeting liberal organizations.
In a self-aggrandizing speech, Wintrich claimed, “Many of the people in this room, we’re all the last bastions of free speech in America. We’ve had this old guard media who have been running with these stale narratives that are purely left-leaning for decades, and finally after ages we’re seeing this beautiful transition.”
But the movement’s idea of journalism contains a clear premise: that their own right-wing bias is an advantage that allows their followers, who already think mainstream media cannot be trusted, to trust them. As described by The Washington Post when profiling Cernovich, “objectivity is less important than an impression of honesty." To gain the trust of their audiences, they actively attack and undermine mainstream media. As Wintrich admitted, he’ll “take the occasional jab at media, because” he “hate[s] them all," and “half of” his job as a White House correspondent is “fucking with people.” To members of this group, this approach validates their charade as legitimate news providers and lends authenticity to their work.
Cernovich went so far as to suggest that many of the movement’s narratives are artificial and self-induced -- yet still journalism.
“There’s this new form of media now which is part activism and part real journalism,” Cernovich said. “And the way I put it is if there’s nothing happening, make it happen, and a lot of people say, ‘Well, that’s not real journalism. Real journalism is observing things,’ and I don’t really believe that’s true, actually. If you can get on a microphone and say ‘Bill Clinton is a rapist’ -- if the crowd reacts, that’s news.”
Despite the questionable journalistic premises the movement holds dear, like Cernovich’s method of provoking crowd reactions for “news,” or O’Keefe’s habit of presenting heavily edited videos as evidence or attempting to smear mainstream media, the night was full of recognition of attendees for their supposed journalistic merit. Along with presenting an award to O’Keefe, Hoft also honored Cernovich for being “one of the main individuals who helped [President] Donald Trump get across that finish line” and celebrated him as the person who “first started noticing” and “pushing” the idea that Clinton “looks a little sick.”
This journalistic debauchery would be nothing more than bad theater if it hadn’t been legitimized by the White House by granting practitioners access to press briefings. Despite Gateway Pundit’s admission that its correspondent is “there to troll,” Wintrich was credentialed to attend White House press briefings. Cernovich was also approved for a press pass, and he used his access to cause a commotion in the briefing room by yelling at members of the press corps. He later uploaded a video of his outburst to his Periscope feed.
The “Real News Correspondents Gala” also hosted many young people hoping to board the new-media train barreling out of the “new right” movement. One amateur media personality told us that he was there to network and make connections to expand his platform online. Media figures in attendance seemed receptive to the aspiring personalities and were eager to pose for pictures. As Cernovich gave his speech, he recounted the story a young woman in attendance told him about her college broadcast journalism professor telling her she would never make it in the industry.
“Her dreams were killed in college, but you can live your dreams now,” Cernovich said. “Give her a hug. Tell her we love her.”
And the movement may have good reason to entertain new media aspirants: Many prominent online personalities of the “alt-right” movement have talked publicly about expanding their media operations and hiring more people. Vanity Fair reported that “alt-right” poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos is planning to launch a new media operation “for libertarian and conservative comedians, writers, stand-up comics, intellectuals, you name it” and plans to hire 30 people. O’Keefe told the audience that his group Project Veritas would hire “dozens of full-time infiltrators who are going to work their way to the top” of progressive organizations.
Cernovich also revealed that the movement’s leaders are considering hosting a TED talk-style conference over the summer and will continue to host happy hours and social events for their supporters.
“Connection and community is what we have to focus more on because everybody on the internet feels isolated and alone, and then they come to an event and they go, ‘Wow, Mike. A lot of people come to your happy hours,’” Cernovich said. “Well, yeah. No shit, right? We’re popular. There’s a lot of us out there and you wouldn’t get that message if you only watched the news.”
As its members enjoy their newfound popularity, the "new right" movement is also challenged with balancing the inflammatory rhetoric and “meme magic” that have been the foundation of its online success, against the backlash that results from deploying this rhetoric in the real world, which could threaten the long-lasting political capital and broader legitimacy they crave. That is what explains their attempts to rebrand themselves as “new right” and distance themselves from the most toxic figures of the “alt-right,” even despite their gaining notoriety and followers during the 2016 election by associating with and praising the “alt-right.”
Online, these personalities behave like trolls, taking pleasure in triggering “social justice warriors” (the pejorative nickname given in online forums to those perceived as socially progressive) by, among other things, using inflammatory language, but claiming it’s in jest. As New York magazine’s Noreen Malone explains, the group uses irony as armor when their jokes get criticism: “If you take them seriously, they’ll claim you miss the joke.” Much of this ironic contrarianism permeates into their real life personas and makes them seem like walking memes. At the “gala,” as Mike Flynn Jr., son of Trump’s former national security advisor and one of the leading proponents of the pizzagate fake news story, generously positioned himself and his Golden Girls T-shirt into any and all pictures he was asked for, he couldn’t help but invite fellow partygoers to“trigger some snowflakes” by flashing the “OK” sign. Members of the “alt-right” have ironically appropriated the “OK” sign to represent their faction after a viral message board hoax pushed the idea that it had white nationalist connotations. The vocabulary of this “new right” group draws so much from the online forums its members frequent that it would be foreign to anyone who hasn’t spent time reading their digital output. Our female reporter was congratulated by a fellow partygoer for being “red-pilled” (someone who has been awakened to the real world) -- which he determined based simply on her being one of the few women in attendance (the male to female ratio was, by generous approximation, seven-to-three -- not counting the women on Flynn Jr.’s Golden Girls T-shirt).
Again, all of this would seem just amusing anecdote were it not for the powerful connections that have legitimized their shoddy journalistic practices, employed in order to reach their growing audiences and leverage their support. President Donald Trump’s sons are allegedly serving as sources to Cernovich, and his media appearances have been publicized by Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. And those connections suggest the possibility that some “new right” ideas could influence policy. But until it’s possible to assess how much of the movement’s digital output is meant as posturing to continue amassing followers that sustain their digital media enterprises, and how much represents actual positions with enough political support to make them executable, we are forced to keep taking them at their word, meant in jest or not.
Images by Dayanita Ramesh
Cable news devoted minimal coverage to the killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards by a police officer in the days after his death. At a time when President Donald Trump’s administration is taking steps to drastically reduce measures that hold police accountable, the media’s job as a watchdog is of utter importance. In this case, cable news all but abdicated that role.
Edwards was shot by Officer Roy Oliver in a Dallas suburb on April 29. He died shortly after. A statement from the Balch Springs Police Department released on April 30 stated that Edwards was in “a vehicle backing down the street towards the Officers in an aggressive manner,” which led an officer to shoot at the vehicle. On May 1, however, police “changed their story on the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting,” according to CNN.com, after body camera footage “showed the car was driving forward, away from the officers, not reversing toward them." On May 2, the Balch Springs police chief announced that the department had fired Oliver.
A Media Matters analysis found the story has barely broken through on cable news, if at all. In the four days after Edwards’ death, MSNBC has mentioned the fatal police shooting four times, while CNN has mentioned it two times. Fox News, however, did not mention the shooting at all. All of the mentions took place on May 2 and 3, meaning the cable networks did not cover the story until it was reported that the officer had lied about his account of the shooting.
Media coverage of police brutality and abuses of power is especially important under President Trump. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to “cut back on federal oversight of local law enforcement,” USA Today reported. In the memo, Sessions wrote, “It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.” As The Atlantic wrote, “When local governments violate the basic constitutional rights of citizens, Americans are supposed to be able to look to the federal government to protect those rights. Sessions has made clear that when it comes to police abuses, they’re now on their own.”
With Sessions reducing federal oversight on local law enforcement, the press is one of the most prominent institutions left to hold police accountable for bad behavior. This new reality is worrisome, to say the least, as media outlets have repeatedly criminalized black and other non-white victims of police violence. Additionally, conservative media have repeatedly portrayed advocates calling for reforms to curb police brutality, including Black Lives Matter, as criminals and terrorists. The lack of coverage cable news devoted to Edwards’ death shows that, so far, media haven’t stepped up to the plate.
Media Matters searched CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News on SnapStream for mentions of “Edward” or “Jordan” between April 30 and May 3 and coded for mentions of Jordan Edwards. Mentions were counted if they took place between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m.
President Donald Trump just signed an executive order purporting to protect so-called religious freedom, in part by weakening tax code restrictions on churches and religious groups, allowing them to actively engage in political activity without losing their nonprofit status. While the order falls short of directly targeting LGBTQ people -- as many expected it would do -- it’s still a victory for anti-LGBTQ hate groups, which have been lobbying for such a shift for years.
On May 4, Trump signed an executive order allegedly protecting religious freedom. The order directs the IRS to use “maximum enforcement discretion” to “alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment.” The Johnson Amendment is a 1954 law stating that churches and other tax-exempt organizations are "are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office." Despite the claims by anti-LGBTQ hate groups that the amendment stifles “free speech” by pastors and churches, it is rarely enforced. As NPR noted earlier this year, opposition to the amendment isn’t really about “free speech” -- it’s about “money and politics.” Last August, The Atlantic explained the effects of overturning the Johnson Amendment:
Pastors would be able to endorse candidates from the pulpit, which they’re currently not allowed to do by law. But it’s also true that a lot more money could possibly flow into politics via donations to churches and other religious organizations. That could mean religious groups would become much more powerful political forces in American politics—and it would almost certainly tee up future court battles.
The group leading the national push for repealing the Johnson Amendment -- the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) -- has been designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for working to criminalize LGBTQ people, both domestically and abroad, as well as disseminating “disparaging propaganda and falsehoods” to advance its extremist agenda.
ADF, which has previously explained that it “seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries,” has led an annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” in opposition to the Johnson Amendment since 2008. The Washington Post reported that ADF’s “Pulpit Freedom” initiative has encouraged over 2,000 clergy members -- mainly evangelical Christians -- to “deliberately” violate the law since 2008 -- and none of the 2,000 were punished by the IRS. Yet the hate group’s efforts are sweepingly out of step with public opinion, as 90 percent of evangelical leaders do not think pastors should endorse politicians, and nearly 80 percent of Americans think it is inappropriate for pastors to endorse a candidate in church.
Despite little public support to repeal the Johnson Amendment, ADF and other anti-LGBTQ hate groups have redoubled their efforts against it since Trump won the election. Some of those actions included:
Today, ADF senior counsel Gregory Baylor released a statement saying that Trump’s order does not go far enough to "protect" religious freedom. Baylor advocated for a full repeal of the Johnson Amendment through legislative action, as did FRC general counsel for government affairs Mandi Ancalle and ADF legal counsel Christiana Holcomb at a congressional hearing today titled “Examining A Church’s Right To Free Speech.” Baylor also lamented that the order didn’t include “specific relief” for business owners who hold “a religious point of view on marriage that differed from that of the federal government,” i.e. no license to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
Anti-LGBTQ hate groups have so far been successful in furthering their desired policies under Trump, thanks to having representatives and alumni deeply embedded in his administration. FRC senior fellow Ken Blackwell served as the domestic policy chair on the Trump transition team, along with former FRC staffer Ken Klukowski, who was the team’s “constitutional rights” leader and claimed to have helped draft today’s order. FRC's Perkins -- who was at the Rose Garden signing today -- came to embrace Trump as a “teachable” candidate whom Perkins could “shape.”
Recently, Trump appointed Charmaine Yoest -- former vice president of FRC -- as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In January, Trump appointed former ADF senior counsel Matt Bowman as an HHS special assistant.
Anti-LGBTQ hate groups will, in all likelihood, continue to use their high-level connections to push for a broad legislative repeal of the Johnson Amendment, as well as another “religious freedom” executive order that would allow for government employees and contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ people and their families.
Image by Dayanita Ramesh.
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President Donald Trump’s comments about the Civil War in a recent interview, in which he diminished the impact of slavery ahead of the war and praised former President Andrew Jackson, echo sentiments of white nationalist media and signify yet another instance of intermingling between Trump and his nativist fans.
During a May 1 interview with the Washington Examiner, Trump claimed that “had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn't have had the Civil War,” adding that Jackson “was a very tough person but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw with regard to the Civil War.” Trump went on to say, “People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”
As Jamelle Bouie, then of The American Prospect wrote, "Civil War historians disagree on many things, but there is a general consensus surrounding the reasons for the war, and slavery is at the top of the list." Tony Horowitz of The Atlantic stated, "The Civil War today is generally seen as a necessary and ennobling sacrifice, redeemed by the liberation of four million slaves." And, as noted by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Civil War "ended slavery, and birthed both modern American, and modern black America."
Trump’s remarks were largely panned for being “puzzling” and “fact-free.” But as historians warned would happen, white nationalist media figures praised his comments, saying that Trump was “right about the UnCivil War” and that “none of the modern wars have advanced the White race and our shared civilization.”
By questioning the cause of the Civil War, Trump was blowing a dog whistle to white nationalist media figures and neo-Confederates, tacitly supporting the revisionist history they promote. The white nationalist website VDare, for example, has claimed that the idea that the Civil War was meant to “preserve the Union and free the slaves” is a “lie.” White nationalists have also attempted to dismiss the traumas of slavery, writing that it “wasn’t as bad as you were taught.” So when Trump suggested that the war could have been avoided or that the cause was unknown, he was echoing the sentiments of white nationalists by diminishing the impact slavery had in the United States.
Additionally, Trump’s repeated praise for Jackson has drawn support of white nationalist media figures who are similarly drawn to Jackson. White nationalist websites like The Daily Stormer have praised Jackson for kicking Native Americans off their land, writing, “They were killing kids, raping and killing women – it was a horrorshow (sic) with these tree-monkeys (sic).” The white nationalist website Infostormer called Jackson “a legitimate bad ass,” writing, “He fought in duels, won the Battle of New Orleans and abolished the Second Bank of the United States,” which Jackson had said was an elitist institution that lacked proper oversight.
When Trump praises Jackson, white nationalists take note. After Trump hung a portrait of the late president in the Oval Office, Infostormer said it was “great news” because “there is a good chance Trump plans on shaping his presidency to be in the same vein as Jackson[’s].” When Trump visited Jackson’s tomb, Infostormer lauded Trump for “recognizing the greatness that was Andrew Jackson.”
Trump has had a long history of interacting with white nationalist media figures. His latest comments are yet another wink and nod to his nativist supporters.
Graphic by Dayanita Ramesh
White nationalists and neo-Nazis praised President Donald Trump for asking “why was there the Civil War” and why “could that one not have been worked out.” They argued that Trump was “right,” that the Civil War did not advance “the White race and our shared civilization,” and that the remarks were “‘offensive’ only to those who actively enjoy white people being killed.” Many white nationalists supported Trump during the campaign and have previously praised him for other remarks.