The fractured elements of what was once called the alt-right were unified once more on Thursday night in condemning Donald Trump’s airstrike in Syria as a mistake. Or as Milo Yiannopoulos put it, “FAKE and GAY.”
This loose confederation of Web-savvy, anti-establishment right-wingers formed an important vanguard of Trump’s online support in last year’s election, and its unified opposition to the airstrike forewarns a political downside to intervention in Syria. While foreign wars tend to boost presidents’ popularity in the short term, Trump risks losing the segments of his base that flocked to his isolationist, “America First” message.
In addition to its nationalist, anti-interventionist and anti-“globalist” views, the alt-right and its fellow travelers have also displayed a marked affinity for Syria’s ally Russia, whose government has returned the love by tweeting images of the alt-right’s mascot, Pepe the Frog, from official accounts. In reacting to the airstrikes, leaders of the movement placed those ideological reflexes over their personal loyalty to Trump.
Most noteworthy were the herculean efforts of blogger Mike Cernovich, who took to the livestreaming application Periscope to rally opposition to the strike in a marathon session that went on for several hours.
Just days after Donald Trump Jr. suggested he be given a Pulitzer Prize, Cernovich tweeted, “Sources telling me U.S. attack in Syria planned for tonight, we must stop! #NoMoreWar,” at 7:40 pm Eastern time, an hour and a half before NBC News broke the news of the airstrike.
Cernovich also expressed his belief that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad had been framed for the chemical attack, though he had not decided by whom. “It was probably ISIS did it to themselves,” he said on the livestream, while also tweeting, “Did McCain give ‘moderate rebels’ (ISIS) in Syria poison gas and Hollywood style film equipment?”
Um, that would be a “no.”
Trump fan and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones doesn’t seem to know yet what to make of it. Meanwhile Jones (joined by onetime Trump adviser and all-around scumbag Roger Stone) blamed Trump’s daughter and son-in-law for the attack and called them “enemies of the republic.”
As for Stone, he said Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon was opposed to the airstrike and lost an internal argument– which seems believable enough.
Meanwhile Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, an Assad apologist, tweeted her condemnation.
— Hawaii News Now (@HawaiiNewsNow) April 7, 2017
Republican Assad fan Richard Black, a Virginia state senator, was none too happy either.
— Senator Dick Black (@SenRichardBlack) April 7, 2017
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois was among the Democrats lending support to the airstrike. But he called (appropriately) for Congressional approval of any sustained military action against the Assad regime.
My statement on tonight's U.S. missile strikes in Syria pic.twitter.com/nLcHq6jS01
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) April 7, 2017
And I hope some of those supporting Trump’s efforts to keep vetted Syrian refugees out of the US will think about Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton’s message.
So @POTUS cares enough about the Syrian people to launch 50 Tomahawks but not enough to let the victims of Assad find refuge & freedom here.
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) April 7, 2017
Hillary Clinton suggested she favored even stronger action against Assad’s regime.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Clinton said, had “an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of the civilian deaths,” which is why she had supported a no-fly zone.
“I believe we should have — and still should — take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them,” Clinton said.
But she also noted Trump’s refusal to accept refugees fleeing from attacks like the one which triggered the US military response.
— CNN (@CNN) April 7, 2017
And finally, there is reason to be concerned about a president who makes 180-degree turns in the course of 24 hours, even if you agree with the result.
Yes. It is scary to see Trump impulsively change his core foreign policy position, whatever you feel about his new one. https://t.co/6jSDrPX2HJ
— Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) April 7, 2017