More than a year ago, Universitas talked to American students who supported Donald Trump in his campaign for the presidency. Among them was Nicholas Fuentes, 19, who was then a leader in «Students for Trump,» a conservative group in liberal Boston.
Fuentes, who has family in Mexico, still supports Trump fervently. He attended the August Charlottesville rally of white nationalists and supremacists that resulted in a counter-protestor’s death when she was run over, and two state troopers who died in a helicopter accident while on duty.
«The Charlottesville rally sent a message to the international elites who control this country that white people will not be erased from the United States and Europe without resistance,» said Fuentes.
«People have been brainwashed by the media»
«Following the Charlottesville Rally … I started to receive violent threats from many people on Facebook and Twitter,» said Fuentes. «Various people from my former college … and even strangers sent me incredibly racist and violent messages for about a week. Members of my family were targeted as well.»
The death threats and hate mail caused him to stop studying and move away from Boston. Fuentes still sticks to his right-wing views though, using his personal YouTube channel and social media.
«One day people will wake up and realize the real enemy is not their neighbor but their masters in government and media, and that will be a good day,» he said.
Do you understand why some people react the way they do based on the political things you say online?
«Of course. When people are told from cradle to grave by their teachers, parents, media, and culture that the gravest sin in the modern world is to be a «racist,» and those same institutions define sensible, proud white people as racists, it's not [sic] wonder you see that kind of hate.»
Fuentes added, «I say what I say for effect, at the end of the day they're just words designed to provoke thought & conversation. If that makes people uncomfortable, that's a good thing.»
Among Americans 18-34 years old, only 20 percent are satisfied with Trump. More than 60 dislike him. One of them is Kari Claire Offerdal, 23, who now studies Peace and Conflict at UiO. She says possibly the only positive thing he has brought to the world is memes.
«Hopefully Trump’s presidency has increased people’s awareness about the huge political divisions the US, that can be a good thing. Otherwise I can’t think of much,» she said.
«Cutting Planned parenthood, the Dreamers visa program [DACA] and several environmental regulations – but that's the tip of the iceberg. It is very sad to watch, even sadder to follow everything from outside of the US.»
Before coming to Norway, Offerdal worked at the University of Oregon’s office for international students. She saw the effects Trump’s rhetoric had on foreigners.
«Many international students came to us being really worried about Trump’s policies on immigration and deportation and asking us when they had to leave the country,» she said.
Alex Blessing Chalgren
Bombarded with questions
Alex Blessing Chalgren, 19, worked from Trump’s campaign during the election. As a black, gay man, he’s far from the typical Trump supporter. But he says during the election he became convinced that Trump was the best supporter for LGBT rights.
«It can be difficult supporting a man that is so hated, but then I realize that much of their hate is baseless and ignorant,» Chalgren said. «I find that other minority groups particularly dislike me for [supporting him]. [People] either embrace me or proceed to tearing me apart with rude questioning.»
One year later, some concerns
Chalgren studies philosophy and economics at the conservative Hampden Sydney College in Virginia, and wants to attend law school later. In addition he’s active in debate clubs, and is a leader in the College Republicans group at his college.
«I continue to support the president; however, I have more reservations. The ideas that he campaigned on last year are what I support for the most part, but he has veered from some of the stances lately,» Chalgren said. «I have been greatly disappointed with his nominations especially regarding the environment.»
Has Trump made life better for LGBT people?
«Generally speaking, Trump has not made life for LGBT persons better. Regarding the military he has certainly made it worse. I was very irked by this as a future U.S. Army officer,» Chalgren admits.
In addition, he was upset by the president’s reaction to Charlottesville. «As an American before black I was abhorred by his response to Charlottesville. My heart was hurt and I have never recovered. I wish the statues were torn down and put in museum. POTUS should not get involved in protesting free and peaceful protest.»
In Trump they trust
Nevertheless, Chalgren still believes the country’s security is in good hands with Trump.
«Trump's attempts to ban enemies of the State from entering our nation will help keep our country safe. Although the most recent attacks by Americans make us all feel unsafe,» he said.
Nicholas Fuentes is no longer a student, and is betting everything on starting his own media company. His praise for Trump’s presidency so far was unreserved:
«Whatever he's doing is working!»