Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein (Screenshot: TBS)

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee returned on Wednesday, with America’s favorite Canadian late-night comedy host catching up on all she’d clearly not missed while she, one can only hope, slept the sleep of the just, somewhere far away from the Trump-despoiled landscape she regularly scours for injustice. Bee ran down the Trump administration’s response to the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. (Talking about climate change is inappropriate while suffering though its undeniable effects!) She took another slap at duplicitous voter suppression and anti-immigrant “bigoted sack of Bisquick” Kris Kobach for his most recent falsehoods about DACA. (DREAmers steal money from taxpayers—even though they themselves are taxpayers, which Kobach knows but lies about because he’s a garbage-person.) And Donald Trump’s inability to articulate his nonsensical and/or bigoted positions because he may, in fact, be largely illiterate. (No, President Obama did not grant the DREAMers “amnity,” only partly because that is not a word that exists.)

But it was Bee’s piece on the rise of emboldened white supremacists and “Confederate TruckNutz” enthusiasts that see Donald Trump’s rise as a fulfillment of their squirmiest neo-Nazi fantasies that capped off the episode. In it, Bee talked to a former Homeland Security official who explained how, strangely, Trump and his li’l Attorney General pal Jeff Sessions have completely de-emphasized investigation of domestic white terrorism in favor of an “all-Muslims, all the time” law enforcement agenda, even though white supremacist attacks are far more numerous (and increasing) than those of any other group. She also talked to several former neo-Nazi skinheads, including Christian Picciolini, co-founder of the outreach organization Life After Hate, which seeks to, as Picciolini puts it, “help people disengage from what I created 30 years ago.”


Picciolini points out that Life After Hate was the first government-funded anti-white terrorism group under Obama but that—again, strangely—one of the first priorities of Trump and Sessions was to strip the group’s $400,000 budget. (Bee is pointing people to the group’s crowdfunding campaign, which has raised over $330,000 at press time.) In talking to the repentant former fascist, Bee asked what has been Life After Hate’s most successful strategy in reaching what Picciolini states are usually disaffected, lonely, wounded young white guys. His answer of “love” and “Nazi-hugging” drew a grimace from Bee (“I don’t... want to hug Neo-Nazis...”), but she did go on to bring in some of her whitest friends to back up the idea. Noting that supposed hippie haven Portland, Oregon has become home to a rising tide of white supremacist activity since Trump was elected, Bee enlisted Portlandia stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein to echo the whole “hug, not punch” approach. Sure, Armisen notes his part-Venezuelan parentage, but, if there’s a dissatisfying element to the well-meaning segment, it’s that the whole “white people broke it, they need to fix it,” and “don’t play a nationwide game of Whack-a-Nazi,” ignores the fact that none of the people involved in it are in much physical jeopardy from Trump-lovin’ white supremacists. White supremacists who have no such compunctions about attacking people who aren’t white—and who don’t have their own TV series.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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