NBC's Today provides white supremacist group Identity Evropa with a platform for free publicity
Identity Evropa's Patrick Casey: "We are convinced that the logical conclusion of Trump's make America great again agenda does need to address demographics"
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NBC’s Today hosted Identity Evropa’s Patrick Casey for a segment about white nationalism and the upcoming midterms. In doing so, Today provided a wide-reaching platform for publicity and recruitment.
Many replies to the Today show’s tweet of the segment reveal that giving a platform to extremists is a useful tool of recruitment and brand exposure. This is especially the case when journalists, like NBC’s Peter Alexander here, play into the 'optics' strategy of groups like Identity Evropa by remarking on how “clean cut” they look despite their racism. The polished look in YouTube-savvy white supremacists is not a bug, it’s a feature. The sanitized language (substituting “identitarianism” for racism) and social media presence are strategies to propel their reach.
Immigrants of color were entirely absent from the segment, even though they are the most affected by the agendas of groups like Identity Evropa taking power through the Republican Party.
By providing oxygen to Identity Evropa’s ideas, Today amplified them in the same way that YouTube does. Casey, who also does bookings for YouTube’s explicitly racist channel Red Ice TV, has appeared in other YouTube channels with white supremacist content, once saying on Jean Francois Gariépy’s show that “the best framework for … human civilization overall to be able to exist” is “a degree of separation between ethnic and racial groups.”
Here is the segment from the October 17 edition of NBC's Today:
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PETER ALEXANDER (NBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT): The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Identity Evropa one of the most active new hate groups in America. Their members are clean cut, they are conservatively dressed, and they're recruiting on a campus near you.
PATRICK CASEY (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IDENTITY EVROPA): We're trying to move beyond the paradigm that includes buzzwords like, "racist" and --
ALEXANDER: So what is it? If not racist, what is it?
ALEXANDER: It's how watchdogs say groups like this often disguise white supremacist views.
ALEXANDER: Casey's deploying some of his 800 members to post recruitment signs on college campuses nationwide, from San Diego State to NYU. Experts warn these groups are trying to lure students by blending into the mainstream.
ALEXANDER: Among Identity Evropa's goals, Casey told us: covertly taking over the GOP.
CASEY: We encourage our guys to go to young Republicans, college Republicans meetings, to go to local GOP meetings as well, to network with people, to, perhaps, somewhat discreetly at first, start broaching identitarian and nationalist ideas.
ALEXANDER: Why discreetly at first?
CASEY: You want to make an effort to blend in, right? These ideas are a bit controversial, but we are convinced that the logical conclusion of Trump's make America great again agenda does need to address demographics.
ALEXANDER: Why the need to blend in if these views, you think, aren't ones that would be widely embraced?
CASEY: Right, well, they're controversial at this point, but that doesn't negate their validity. Quite often controversial ideas start off as being very taboo and people have to be very careful with them, but they can skillfully insert them into the mainstream.
CASEY: We do want to return our immigration laws to what have historically been America's immigration laws, which are laws that favor European immigrants.
ALEXANDER: We did reach out to the Republican National Committee, they declined to comment on Identity Evropa.
Update (2:19 pm): MSNBC aired a segment featuring a different sit-down interview with Casey:
This post has been updated with additional context about Identity Evropa.