NY-22 Minute: Tenney Condemns Racism, Alt-Right Support in Question By Luke Perry
Much has already been written about President Trump’s immediate response to “Unite the Right” protests last weekend in Charlottesville, including his controversial statement and what Attorney General Jeff Sessions is now calling “domestic terrorism.”
This afternoon President Trump stated that “racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
Congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell immediately condemned white supremacy, hatred, and bigotry, as did Democratic leaders, past and present. Many Congressional Republicans criticized the President’s initial response, including Orrin Hatch (UT), Chuck Grassley (IW), John McCain (AZ), Cory Gardner (CO), Marco Rubio (FL), Tim Scott (SC), and Jeff Flake (AZ).
Claudia Tenney made two relevant tweets, first at 1:01pm on August 12 (the day of): “Violence has no place in our society. We strongly condemn the violent and un-American actions in #Charlottesville.”
Her second tweet at 1:20pm stated: “Our thoughts and prayers are w/Charlottesville. We should stand united as Americans against the hate and racism shown today.”
“Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler is a “spokesman for a new generation of white-power activists who articulate a more polished vision of race-based politics than generations past.” He is “a member of the Proud Boys, a loose collective of pro-Trump alt-rightists.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the alt-right “rejects mainstream conservatism, promotes nationalism and views immigration and multiculturalism as threats to white identity. It is a loosely organized movement—scarcely known in the last presidential election or even one year ago—that mostly exists online.”
After Claudia Tenney was elected to represent NY-22, retiring GOP incumbent Richard Hanna expressed his inability to support Tenney because of “her very severe alt-right positions on a lot of things.”
The most prolific connection between the alt-right and the Trump administration is Stephen Bannon, who ran Breitbart News before joining Trump's campaign and administration.
Bannon described Breitbart as “the platform for the alt right” and under his tenure, they published pieces promoting white nationalism, misogyny, and antisemitism, including “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Lazy” and "Bill Kristol; Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.”
Claudia Tenney has regularly done interviews for Breitbart, including June 25, 2016, October 22, 2016, January 8, 2017 (her first week in office), and June 14, 2017. Tenney has also retweeted Breitbart articles and promoted her appearances on Breitbart radio.
On June 2, 2017 Breitbart wrote “a star is born” about Claudia Tenney for an “exclusive” that stated Tenney “is emerging as one of the strongest conservative women voices in Washington.”
The fallout from Saturday’s terrorist attack will increase scrutiny of the alt-right. It remains to be seen if Claudia Tenney will continue to grant interviews for, receive praise from, and promote Breitbart News.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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