The quiet part is the loud part

Arguments against birthright citizenship here and abroad show the clear and present threat of white nationalism

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At one of Vivek Ramaswamy’s last campaign events before dropping out of the Republican Presidential primary, a child was given the first question. According to Dave Weigel, a reporter who was at the pizza parlor in Ankeny, Iowa, on Sunday, the kid asked Ramaswamy what he’d do first if he became president. “Use executive order to end birthright citizenship,” he replied.

This was nothing new for the candidate, who received a late vote of confidence from xenophobic billionaire Elon Musk—Ramaswamy vowed back in September to end birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants born in the US. But the moment made clear that going into the Iowa Caucus, this is what Ramaswamy wanted as his closing message. This is what he wanted children and adults alike to remember about him.

And perhaps most embarrassing of all, it wasn’t even an original thought: he was just echoing caucus winner-to-be Donald Trump, and in turn, his violently anti-immigrant advisor Stephen Miller. Just a few hours after Ramaswamy’s response, Miller tweeted: “The deportations will begin at noon, Inauguration Day” atop a clip of Trump himself saying to an Iowa crowd, “As soon as I take the oath of office, I'll terminate every open border policy of the Biden administration and begin the largest deportation operation in American history."

Whereas at one point Miller was one of the only ones to put it so plainly, now it’s the party line. The quiet part is no longer being said out loud; The quiet part is the loud part. And it’s rapidly spreading across other western democracies.

The day after Black Friday while most of us in the US were still digesting our Thanksgiving feasts, a group of far-right politicians and ideologues gathered at a lakeside hotel in the German countryside to lay out a “masterplan” to rid their country of migrants.

Landhaus Adlon, owned by a German woman with right-wing ties, looks like a set for a Succession-style summit. Its website describes it as such: “We bring the tradition of the historic country house Adlon back to life and bring the ambience back to Potsdam in the 20s.” If their goal is to invoke post-WWI Germany, they certainly achieved it with this summit surreptitiously organized by Gernot Mörig, a retired dentist, and investor Hans Christian Limmer, according to German news nonprofit CORRECTIV. It convened some of the most influential neo-Nazis and far-right AfD party politicians in the region.

(As I explained in September after Musk voiced his support for the party’s desire to turn away boats of African migrants, the AfD is “a far-right German political party that is rabidly anti-immigration, and whose youth recruitment arm has been classified as an “extremist group”.)

A reporter for CORRECTIV was able to go undercover at the hotel while two dozen or so guests discussed their plan for “re-migration” of “asylum seekers, non-Germans with residency rights, and ‘non-assimilated’ German citizens.” (While the reporter was not in the actual room, they obtained correspondence from beforehand, notes from the actual meetings, research gathered by Greenpeace, and a camera crew outside the event captured long-range photos from a boat.)

CORRECTIV notes:

The scenarios sketched out in this hotel room in Potsdam all essentially boil down to one thing: people in Germany should be forcibly extradited if they have the wrong skin colour, the wrong parents, or aren’t sufficiently “assimilated” into German culture according to the standards of people like Sellner. Even if they have German citizenship.

The Sellner referred to above is Martin Sellner, an Austrian neo-Nazi who came up with the “masterplan,” as it was referred to throughout the event. CORRECTIV notes that Sellner’s plans are hardly original, but still deadly serious:

The masterplan even includes a destination to “move people to”, a so-called “model state” in North Africa, that would apparently provide space for up to two million people. There would even be educational and sport offers there. And anyone who lobbies on behalf of refugees could join them there, Sellner added.

Sellner’s concept is eerily reminiscent of the Nazi’s 1940 plan to deport four million Jews to the island of Madagascar. It is unclear whether Sellner had this historical parallel in mind when devising his plan. It may also be mere coincidence that the organisers of the event chose a location less than 8 kilometres away from the villa where the Wannsee Conference took place – the meeting where the Nazis coordinated the systematic extermination of the Jews.

Another attendee—the retired dentist’s son—suggested they set up an influencer agency composed of right wing personalities to help “normalize” their ideas for German youth on TikTok and Youtube. It’s an idea that’s flourished here in the states, with Trump-friendly extremists like Chaya Raichik of Libs of TikTok, white nationalist Nick Fuentes and Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk directly influencing Republican policy.

“Based on the current press releases, we would like to point out that we are dissociating ourselves from the reports contained therein,” an English translation of a statement on Landhaus Adlon’s website reads. “We attach great importance to the privacy of our guests and would like to emphasize that we always strive for discretion. We are not responsible for the content of our customers' events and do not know them in advance.”

If the German hotel is not responsible—or the Iowa pizza parlor is not responsible—then who is? Or if a social media platform is not responsible for hosting and profiting off this kind of outright hate, then who is?

As the buck continues to be passed, Donald Trump is hurtling towards his third-consecutive Republican Presidential nomination, regional German elections later this year could see the installation of extremist right-wing politicians ready to enact Nazi policy, all while white supremacist billionaires fund the whole enterprise. Their ideology is not some abstract future; the future is now.

Back in 2018, I ran a project called Crush the Midterms that helped connect people with the most impactful local volunteering opportunities and most important candidates to support financially in order to flip the House. At that time, I still believed that Trump was the product of lapse in judgment (and media coverage), and not a symptom of what our country had already become. That if we just voted hard enough, we’d be able to dig ourselves out of this hole.

Looking back, it was incredibly naive. Sure, we flipped the House and elected some of the most progressive candidates in history—but six years later, Trump is running again, completely undeterred by his previous defeat, with every other Republican candidate running in his image. And that image is a white nationalist.

This isn’t meant to scare you (though it is pretty scary); it’s meant to help you see the clear and present threat in front of us, and to understand the work doesn’t start and end on Election Day. Instead of whispering about how awful it all is, shout it. Make your quiet part loud.

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