Since the election of President Donald Trump, right-wing white nationalists—also called the “alt-right”—have been punched, chastised and ridiculed for their hateful beliefs.
But as of last month, it looks like they might’ve found some non-white friends online.
Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, tweeted on October 13 that now was the time to bring his separatist dream to fruition: “Black people: We should be more convinced that it is time for us to separate and build a nation of our own,” he wrote.
Soon after, leaders of the alt-right replied to Farrakhan with an invitation to join forces to realize their shared goal of an ethno-state: “This is the sort of self-determination we and the broader Alt-Right support. Would you like to discuss this in a public forum?” Jared Taylor, founding editor of the white supremacist magazine, American Resistance, asked Farrakhan.
Something that would have shocked me last year but just makes me sigh now: a “defend white identity” blog endorsing Louis Farrakhan. pic.twitter.com/KAfO0gne0S
— No Shave Noorvember (@nooralsibai) October 13, 2017
Later, Mike Enoch, whose podcast, The Daily Shoah, espouses anti-Semitism to its reportedly 100,000 listeners, expressed his long-held admiration for the minister. He tweeted: “I’ve always been a fan of Farrakhan Tbh.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be an ‘alt-right’ Twitter party if neo-Nazi Richard Spencer didn’t chime in: “We in the Alt-Right are open for a real dialogue,” he responded to Farrakhan’s separatist message.
A few days later, Farrakhan returned the favor. “Somebody told me that the alt-right, Mr. Trump’s people, had a tweet or something—‘we kinda like what Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam is saying, we with them to separate in a land of their own.’ I said: very good, alt-right, y’all want to talk about it? Talking has been done, nothing to talk about because now it’s either separation or death.”
An ideological alliance between white and black nationalists makes some sense on a political level. Both groups want to form a country without the other one in it. But for Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, both groups are also united by their deep hatred of Jewish people.
“It’s unlikely that white nationalists will join rallies with the Nation of Islam, but their fundamental ideologies—which consist of anti-Semitism and separatism—are two sides of the same coin. They might have more in common than people might initially think,” he told Newsweek on Thursday.
We in the Alt-Right are open for a real dialogue. https://t.co/y4U4EAen2O
— Richard 🐻 Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) October 13, 2017
Segal, who’s been at the league for more than a decade while studying extremists, also noted in a recent blog post that the camaraderie between white and black nationalists goes back decades.
George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi party, attended a separationist speech by Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X, and was quoted as saying that he was “fully concerned with their program” and that he had “the highest respect for Elijah Muhammad,” the Nation of Islam founder. Segal also notes that the Ku Klux Klan leader “David Duke has also tweeted agreement with Farrakhan, and in 1985 Farrakhan met with Thomas Metzger, a former KKK leader, at an NOI rally in San Diego.”
For many, Farrakhan is a social justice leader and should be revered despite his anti-Semitic views. But for Segal, any shred of Farrakhan’s credibility went out the window the second he entertained collaborating with the alt-right.
“Anybody who had any skepticism about the anti-Semitism in NOI should put that skepticism to bed now that he seems to be open to dialogue with white supremacists,” he said.
Segal doesn’t believe these commonalities will manifest themselves on the streets or in a united organization. But, he noted, “it’s entirely possible that they would both be on a podcast together in this moment in time.”
Regardless, both the “alt-right” and black nationalist anti-Semites pose a serious threat to Jewish people and all minorities across the country.
“Both of these groups voice a hateful message, and the more they unite, the more people they’ll potentially reach,” Segal said. “We must continue to speak out against them or risk more violence against those they hate.”