Rush Limbaugh, Not Hillary Clinton, Legitimized the Alt Right

When Hillary Clinton took to the microphone to pin Trump to the racialists and racists in the Alt Right (the so-called “alternative right” that bases its philosophy in racial separatism), some on the right accused her of promoting them. But Clinton’s speech last Thursday was not the coming-out party of the Alt Right. The true debut to the national stage was in a little-covered Rush Limbaugh monologue in January where he took the words of the micro-movement’s intellectual godfather to explain Trump’s appeal.

On January 20th, 2016, Limbaugh quoted favorably from Buchanan adviser Samuel Francis, saying Trump had tapped into a populist vein in the popular conscience. He proclaimed that for the moment, conservatism had lost its appeal and that populism and even nationalism had taken its place:

I want to read something to you. I want you to really listen to this. This was written back in 1996, written by a man named Samuel Francis, who later in life suffered the — acquired the — reputation of being a white supremacist. Undeservedly so, but there have been efforts undertaken to destroy his credibility and so forth. He was an advisor to Pat Buchanan.

But don’t let any of that cloud what I’m gonna read to you yet. I want to read to you from an essay he wrote called “From Household to Nation.” It was published in Chronicles magazine back in 1996. “[S]ooner or later, as the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interests and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives.”

He made it a point to bring up Francis’s reputation as a white supremacist, just to slap it down and say that reputation was “undeserved” and that his credibility was under attack. Limbaugh’s focus on Francis’s appeals beyond conservatism is a trope echoed in the Alt Right’s insistence that conservatism has failed while overlooking a broad history of racialist appeals.

In that moment, the credibility of the Alt Right’s aims, memes, desires and hopes skyrocketed. Rush Limbaugh, the standard bearer for conservatism since the George H. W. Bush administration’s waning days had dropped his colors and traded them in for the darker tones of nationalistic populism. Not only that, but Rush either naively or deliberately overlooked the deep and obvious racism of Francis to make his political point.

Samuel Francis’s racism is well-documented and is hard to ignore. He was fired from the Washington Times over a speech he gave that whites need to reassert identity in explicitly racial terms against “threats” such as intermarriage with other races. This was in reaction to the universalist themes in the Garth Brooks song “We Will Be Free.” (Ironically it was Dinesh D’Souza who called him out then; D’Souza has since become is a Trump supporter-by-proxy.)

Ten years later he got fired by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for opposing an interracial skit with a white “Desperate Housewives” actress and a black football player that was featured on ABC. Francis wrote that “breaking down the sexual barriers between the races is a major weapon of cultural destruction.” Francis believed that the United States was not a nation based on an idea or a concept; he saw it as an explicitly European (i.e. white) country and that other races were diluting the strength of the country.

Just before his death, Francis wrote out the statements of principles for the Council of Conservative Citizens (prominent white supremacist Jared Taylor is their current spokesman), who adopted these statements unedited after he passed. After stating that immigration should be checked to keep America a European-style nation, the second principle stated “We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.”

This all should have been known to Rush Limbaugh. He either wittingly promoted the Alt Right or unwittingly became a pawn in their game to influence the election. The Alt Right and their allies rejoiced; they knew their moment had come. Rush was thanked both as a new ally and a conquered foe. The following quote is from VDARE, one of the more prominent white supremacy websites:

It was nothing less than historic when talk radio titan Rush Limbaugh respectfully quoted Sam Francis on January 20, saying he was “undeservedly smeared” as a white supremacist.

(Note: We will not link to a white supremacist website. It was published on January 22, 2016.)

Just yesterday, Limbaugh got embroiled in controversy by claiming that he didn’t believe Trump’s deportation plans while transcripts of earlier shows said just the opposite. Limbaugh retreated to the clown nose on/clown nose off defense that served Jon Stewart so well by claiming he was just an entertainer. No such excuse can shield him from the fact that he let the Alt Right inside the gates and failed to be reasonably skeptical of their champion, Donald Trump.

A version of this piece was first published at the Buckley Club.

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1 comment

  1. 1

    Brilliant. I’ve written on Francis and his growing influence on the conservative movement but concentrated on his Marxist leanings. This is a great addition to my thought processes.

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