Last week, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used a Facebook post to respond to Thursday night’s lethal assault on Dallas police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest.
His sober response to the killings was out of character for Trump, who has previously used comparable tragedies as opportunities for self-promotion. But part of the reaction to Trump’s statement fell extremely short of noble. Indeed, the candidate’s Facebook followers presented a frenzy of white-people paranoia, commenting with calls for tactical militia training and assertions that race war is either already upon us, or coming down fast — as they say — with some alleging President Obama was behind it (to enact Martial Law, for unnamed reasons). At least one commenter included the ominous hashtag “#WhiteGenocide.”
By now, the political press, the GOP, and the country at large have been forced to accept that Donald Trump is the candidate for white supremacists. Trump might not be a racist himself, and the majority of his supporters deserve the benefit of the doubt — not counting notions of implicit bias, for now — but reconciling the Republican candidate’s popularity among his overall constituency with his appeal to white supremacists is an unavoidable chore that can’t be ignored forever. The relationship between these groups blurs the line between patriotism and nationalism. They are united by Trump, but do they like the bully-nosed candidate for the same reasons?
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Republican Platform Committee essentially adopted Trump’s “America First” policies on trade and immigration. Following Trump, the GOP is moving toward protectionist restrictions on free trade; it called for construction of Trump’s wall along the country’s “most vulnerable borders”; it will impose a 5-year prison sentence for illegal immigrants caught attempting to return to the U.S. after deportation; and the party declared political refugees who “cannot be carefully vetted” will be denied admittance to the United States, “especially those [refugees] whose homelands have been the breeding ground for terrorism” — such as Syria, where civil war has left hundreds of thousands dead and displaced nearly 10 million asylum seekers.
This new GOP platform — which caters to the new Trump Republicans — will be embraced by white nationalists for the same reason they support Trump: They detest so-called “globalism,” multiculturalism, and diversity, favoring instead nationalization and protectionism. Trump shares these views. But Trump’s popularity is deeper than nationalists applauding his insults against Muslims and Mexicans, which would carry less weight if not for his aggressive opposition to free trade.
Why don’t white nationalists like free trade?
In May, Fusion interviewed William Johnson, the white nationalist “mistakenly” chosen by Trump’s campaign to serve as a delegate for the State of California. Johnson told Fusion “The epic battle from here on out is not the battle between progressives and conservatives… the battle is between the globalists and the nationalists.”
Johnson, 61, designates “Mitt Romney Republicans” and “Hillary Clinton Democrats,” and “the rest of the mainstream,” as globalist enemies in this battle. Johnson said Trump is “the herald, the leader, the founder of the resurgence of the nationalist platform.”
Johnson’s nationalist platform “promotes a homogenous population” and opposes globalism, which he describes as “empire-building by corporations” that encourages open borders and consumerism — forces nationalism stands against because, as Johnson said, consumerism is “just ‘Make make make, buy buy buy. Grow the NDP, make a lot of money for shareholders.’ That’s wrong.”
Johnson further lamented that globalists “promote multiculturalism and diversity, and that is killing the white race.”
He is against feminism, which he views as a construct of globalism. Johnson said “nationalism supports a strong, male leader… And globalism promotes the touchy-feely, feminist approach we’ve had for so long.”
“People are yearning for a strong, male figure,” Johnson said. “White males have been beaten down for a long time in this country, and Donald Trump is the resurgence of the strong male leader.”
“We need to move beyond feminism and support the traditional family, where the husband works and the wife raises the family. And they can afford to live in their own home on a single workers’ income and raise their children. That’s the ideal solution. That’s the solution in the ‘50s, and when Trump said ‘Make America Great Again,’ that’s what we think it means.”
(There are a lot of reasons the United States cannot replicate the prosperous 1950s. The post-World War II economic boom was the result of various sources of enormous social and fiscal influence that Donald Trump could not recreate with tariffs or treaties or a Mexican border wall, and neither could anyone else. Not to mention, you know, America’s lynching epidemic was still coming to a close in the 1950s.)
Some of what Johnson argues — about corporations and greed-soaked consumerism — borrows from pro-union, protectionist, anti-WTO rhetoric. In an interview with The National Memo, Johnson said he is not a “right-wing” in the economic sense. He advocates an anti-capitalism, he says, and in fact supported the Occupy Wall Street movement. But his white supremacist politics clear, and talking points such as “killing the white race” and “homogenous population” have become mainstream due to the Internet activity of people like Johnson. It’s one thing to say free trade is bad for U.S. workers — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would agree — but it’s quite another to say globalization is killing off whites.
In February, on behalf of Trump’s campaign, Johnson’s American National Super PAC unleashed a round of robocalls in which Johnson encouraged voters to vote for Trump in spite of their fears of being labelled a racist, Talking Points Memo reports. He called for them to help stop the “gradual genocide against the white race.”
Perusing white supremacist message boards, one will almost immediately confront the concept of “white genocide” – a theory that argues globalism and multiculturalism are systematically driving the global population of white Europeans to extinction. Many white supremacists believe this is a conspiratorial, intentional effort.
La Salle University Sociology Professor Charles Gallagher told Inverse that using “the word ‘genocide’ to describe the demographic changes taking place in the United States is hyperbolic and serves right wide ideological purposes.” Genocide is defined as “the deliberate, systematic and coordinated killing or destruction of a people based on some particular social or physical characteristic,” he said. “And this simply does not apply to whites in the United States.”
Obviously. The legal definition of genocide provided by the United Nations corroborates La Salle’s assessment.
The term “white genocide” was coined by former Ronald Reagan staffer Bob Whitaker, who until April was a presidential candidate for the white supremacist American Freedom Party, founded by William Johnson, who serves as the group’s chairman. Johnson told The National Memo he doesn’t think white genocide is happening on purpose, but that it was a “convergence of natural factors” including interracial marriage — which he is against.
Johnson supports a “white ethno-state.” In 1985 he proposed a constitutional amendment that would have revoked the citizenship of every non-white American. He said none of this is racist.
When asked what whites bring to the table that people of color do not, Johnson provided no answer. When asked if there is a difference between “white nationalists” and “white supremacists,” Johnson said “calling us ‘white supremacists’ is like calling African Americans the n-word.”
Are Trump supporters white nationalists?
William Johnson does not speak for all of Trump’s supporters, who stand as a predominantly white but multicultural bloc. But polling shows that whites among them do share Johnson’s concerns, albeit not in as explicitly racist a way.
In March, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found Trump had the support of 43 percent of voters who think whites are “losing out because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics.”
The Washington Post reports that further analysis showed “racial anxiety was at least as important as economic anxiety — the factor most commonly associated with Trump backers — in predicting support for Trump.” The two factors were statistically similar, but those “who voiced concerns about white status appeared to be even more likely to support Trump than those who said they were struggling economically.”
Scott Clement, polling manager for the Post, said “What was striking to me in analyzing the data is that even after controlling for a variety of demographics and attitudes, believing whites are losing out continued to be a key predictor of Trump support.”
Data from Rand Corp’s 2016 Presidential Election Panel Survey showed “Trump performs best among Americans who express more resentment toward African Americans and immigrants and who tend to evaluate whites more favorably than minority groups,” wrote political scientist Michael Tesler, reporting for The Washington Post.
The survey measures resentment toward African Americans and immigrants using statements like “blacks could be just as well off as whites if they only tried harder,” and, “it bothers me when I come in contact with immigrants who speak little or no English.”
Photo: Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump leaves the podium after a speech in Virginia Beach, Virginia U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron