President Trump’s Thursday airstrike against Syria may strip him of the support and adoration of his “alt-right” and white nationalist fans — some of whom are describe the move as part of a “Jewish coup” of Trump’s White House.
“I am ready to condemn Donald Trump,” white nationalist Richard Spencer who popularized the term “alt-right,” said in a YouTube video to his followers. “I certainly condemn these actions just taken in Syria.”
The video, posted Friday morning, was titled “The Trump Betrayal.”
“The #AltRight is against a war in Syria. Period,” Spencer tweeted Thursday night. He later added an emoji of the Syrian flag to his Twitter profile. For the these far-right Trump fans, this military strike against Syria signaled a disappointing departure from his non-interventionist “America First” campaign rhetoric.
Others emphasized how the ouster of Steve Bannon from Trump’s National Security Council appeared to be a power play by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — Kushner being someone they see as exerting unwelcome “Jewish influence” on the White House.
Spencer suggested that Kushner had “his own motives” for “pushing” Trump into war — while other white nationalists were more explicit.
“They’re making war against him and they’re making war against the American people,” said David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader and elder figure in white nationalists circles. “They’re making war against [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in Syria and the Christians of Syria for the purposes of Jewish extremism.”
Trump’s “Jewish son-in-law” wants to “take over his empire,” Duke said. “We’re having a coup in the White House right now.”
Duke has long been a supporter of Assad, even touring Syria in a sort of tour of support for Assad. In 2005, for example, Duke spoke to a Syrian crowd where he compared the Israeli occupation of Syrian and Palestinian land as akin to “Zionist occupation” of New York City and Washington D.C.
On Friday, some of Trump’s anti-Semitic fans sought to make sense of what they saw as Trump’s betrayal, putting forward different theories as to why he had changed course on Syria.
Some dismissed the idea that Kushner was exerting control —- seeing Kushner as not powerful enough. Instead, they suggested Trump had fallen under the control of “the Jews” more broadly.
Andrew Anglin, editor of the Neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer concluded that the “most likely” reason for Trump to take the move against Syria was that he was being “manipulated by Jews and the ‘deep state’ intelligence community in a devious manner.” “If [this] is true, we have a very, very serious problem on our hands, as it means Trump is now under the control of the Jews,” Anglin wrote in a Friday post.
Anglin’s website has been dubbed the “top hate site” by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is a hub for white nationalists and the extreme factions of the “alt-right.”
Mike Cernovich, the rightwing blogger who moves in the “alt-right” orbit — but contests the affiliation with the more white nationalist elements — suggested that the sarin attack that led to the airstrike could be a hoax.
“The Syria gas attack was done by deep state agents,” he wrote on Twitter Wednesday night. “The fake news media (which works for them) wants you to ignore basic logic and 101 level game theory and strategic thinking to reach an illogical conclusion. Stay vigilant!”
Meanwhile, Infowars, the right-wing conspiracy site, claimed the Syrian attack was in fact faked by groups funded by billionaire George Soros, whose name is also often evoked by the more anti-Semitic factions of the “alt-right.”
“I’m officially OFF the Trump train,” tweeted Paul Joseph Watson, an editor at Infowars.
Jared Taylor, editor of the white nationalist American Renaissance, wrote bluntly on Twitter: “@realDonaldTrump has suddenly become stupid.”
Notorious hacker Andrew Auernheimer, better known as “Weev,” posted a slightly more charitable video the Daily Stormer. Auernheimer said while many of his associates are calling Trump “some sort of Hebrew shill,” this is “potentially unwarranted.”
Auernheimer was frustrated with how quickly some of his peers were giving up on Trump.
“After all Trump as done for us,” he said, “I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for fifteen f*cking minutes.”
Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.