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Former U.S. President Donald Trump returns from a break in his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court, May 28, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, Pool)

The intersectionality of hate helps make sense of the ideology of Donald Trump and the far right

A new conceptual tool is required to fully understand the most recent rhetorical strategies of far-right activists and politicians, including former U.S. President Donald Trump. This is precisely what the concept of “intersectionality of hate” aims to do.

Analysts and academics have been talking about the intersectionality of hate for several years now. In doing so, they draw on the notion of intersectionality developed by African-American law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to designate a reality shaped by sexism, racism, classism and other categories (there are some 30 in all).

Crenshaw points out that African-American women have always been aware of this complex reality. Mary Church Terrell, a Black suffragist, declared around 1920 that “a white woman has only one handicap to overcome, that of sex. I have two: sex and race.”

While researching anti-feminism and discourses of men’s victimhood related to a so-called crisis of masculinity, I became aware of how the new concept of intersectionality of hate makes it possible to understand the interweaving of hateful discourses. The French historian Christine Bard, with whom I have the good fortune to collaborate, rightly points out that “anti-feminism practises intersectionality, but it’s the intersectionality of hate,” which brings together sexism, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and homophobia.

This interweaving of hate speech can also be viewed from different points of view, for example, from the racist and xenophobic or “anti-gender” and transphobic movements.

Conceptual innovation

The popularity of the concept of intersectionality no doubt explains the synchronous appearance of the intersectionality of hate on both sides of the Atlantic.

The article “How Trump Made Hate Intersectional” appeared in New York magazine on November 9, 2016, the day after Trump’s election. It was signed by the African-American intellectual Rembert Browne, who explained how the Republican candidate federated voters. “Trump won the presidency by making hate intersectional. He encouraged sexists to also be racists and homophobes, while saying disgusting things about immigrants in public and Jews online.”

Hatred is mixed here with the fear of being robbed of one’s country, institutions and personal achievements, and with anger at not having what one thinks one is entitled to simply by virtue of being a heterosexual white male. This attitude is reminiscent of that of the “Angry White Men” that was much talked about just a few years ago: it is no longer limited to blaming a single group for real or imagined personal problems but blames all minority groups. That means there is no longer a single scapegoat, but a whole herd.

At the same time, in France, Bard, who has shown that anti-feminism and lesbophobia are intertwined and mutually reinforcing, analyzed 1,367 articles dealing with women, gender and sexuality published in the far-right weekly Minute.

She found that “the intersectionality of hate is practised, associating feminism, homosexualism, Islamism and immigrationism.” She notes that political and media figures are targeted with particular intensity if they are women, and also if they are Jewish, Muslim or of African origin. The historian concludes that this intersectionality of hate runs counter to any egalitarian or inclusive perspective.

Attacks on progressives

Shortly afterwards, the journal Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture, and Social Justice devoted a short special report to the intersectionality of hate, associating it with the far right, which attacks progressives and accuses them of imposing their values and defending “minorities.”

In addition to racist and sexist attacks, there are also virulent accusations against “cultural Marxists” (or “wokes”) who allegedly control the State in order to develop “positive discrimination” programs and influence the education system to be able to indoctrinate young people with “political correctness.”

Each attack is an opportunity to point out that the essence of the United States is European, Anglo-Saxon, Christian, heterosexual, capitalist and meritocratic. The attacks also serve to distract attention from the elite that really dominates the country, which is made up of multi-billionaires in the White House, as well as heads of big business and media.

The intersectionality of hate is disseminated by influential traditional (Fox News) and web (Daily Stormer and Daily Wire) media, think tanks like the National Policy Institute and polemicists like Christopher Rufo and Ben Shapiro.

Terrorism

The notion of intersectionality of hate is taken up again in the analysis of hate speech and those associated with terrorist attacks. For example, a study in Europe, Intersectional Hate Speech Online, concludes that “Women remain the group of people most often targeted by intersectional hate speech […], for example Muslim women, Roma women or Women of Colour. […] Another target group for intersectional hate speech is women in public positions.”

Europol also mentions the intersectionality of hate in its 2020 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report. The agency presents a list of attacks motivated by anti-feminism, racism and xenophobia. It gives the example of the one perpetrated in 2011 in Norway by the Nazi Anders Breivik, who claimed in his manifesto to be defending Christian European civilization, and who massacred 76 young socialists.

Anders Breivik and his lawyer Marte Lindholm at Oslo District Court, January 2024. Breivik, who killed 76 young Norwegians in 2011, attempted to sue the Norwegian state for violating his rights. Several terrorists have been inspired by his actions. (Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix via AP)

Europol also mentions Elliot Rodger, who committed one of the first mass murders associated with involuntary celibates in California in 2014, and who also expressed sexist and racist hatred in his manifesto.

“I was anti-everything,” answered a former French gendarme when the court asked him if he was homophobic, during a trial for having planned attacks on several targets. The defendant had also written a neo-Nazi manifesto celebrating Breivik.

Other Islamophobic attackers had planned to attack feminists. The one who targeted the Québec mosque in 2017 was interested in feminist groups at Laval University, and the one who decimated a Muslim family in Ontario, in 2021, had scouted abortion clinics.

Finally, British journalist Helen Lewis points out in her article “The Intersectionality of Hate”, published in The Atlantic, on a mass killer who targeted Buffalo’s African-American community in 2022, that his manifesto included antisemitic cartoons.

Victim rhetoric

So, the intersectionality of hate works by superimposing similar analytical frameworks that systematically deduce the same dynamics from reality, and always lead to the same conclusion: the white heterosexual male is a victim of “minorities” he must resist.

This rhetoric helps to legitimize even the most obvious abuses, such as voting for the would-be dictator for a day Trump, or imposing one’s vision of things through terrorist violence.

The intersectionality of hate also targets progressives and reflects the refusal to recognize that the “majority” of white heterosexual men is, in reality, a minority whose claim to superiority, or even supremacy, is well and truly contested in the name of social justice.

This article was originally published in French

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