Trump Declares Himself a White Supremacist by Calling Himself ‘Nationalist’



Gage Skidmore

Janiya Meekins, Staff Writer

At a Houston, Texas rally, October 22 this past year, the President of the United States called himself a “nationalist”.

“You know what I am, I’m a nationalist. Use that word.”

The problem with President Trump identifying as a nationalist is that one of the most powerful men in the world is spreading a message of white supremacy and passing it off as American patriotism.  A patriot is someone who loves their country, but still can disagree with its beliefs; a nationalist, on the other hand, is someone who believes their country  to be above others.  President Trump says he means nationalist is the same thing as a patriot; however, his policy, words, and actions prove that he understands what the word really means.

This caused a public outcry because I, like many others, believe he was sending a “dog whistle” to white nationalists (people who believe that white people are above others) that he was supporting their cause.  This belief is not unfounded since last year, President Trump called white nationalists “very fine people” after they marched in Charlottesville, Virginia.  

Today, we see how white men are held as the ideal American in everyday life – they don’t fear the police or misjudgment by people.  Nationalists believe in holding up one group of people over the rest, and in America, white nationalists believe in white superiority.  Throughout history, we have seen Americans slaughter and forcefully remove Native Americans from their land and onto reservations. Not to mention the fact that America has a long history of oppressing African-Americans through slavery, Jim Crow laws, and disenfranchisement. Today, America faces problems with immigration, focusing on the exclusion of people of color, as controversy surrounds “the Muslim ban” and asylums seekers from Central America, not immigrants from countries like Germany, France, and Norway.

If President Trump is saying he believes in putting one group above all as a nationalist, then who exactly does he intend to hold above others?

The sentiment that President Trump believes in a white supremacist America is not unfounded – based on his use of nationalism and the meaning of it.  The whole world knows of his opposition to help those seeking asylum in America from Central American countries and Mexico.  

Immigrants have been coming to America to seek asylum since its beginning, and President Trump wants to limit the amount of people who come. The people seeking asylum are not just immigrants, but immigrants of color who need help the most. President Trump is not attacking immigrants who are German or French, only those who are Mexican or Central American.

People who oppose the use of the word “nationalism” know that it is used to discriminate among people. America’s history with discrimination is not exactly clean, and with some of his policies, it is not hard to see why Americans are concerned with President Trump’s word choice.  As stated before, President Trump has opposed Central Americans seeking asylum – even having gone as far as calling them an invasion to put a bad image on them.  In truth, they only wish to escape challenges in their lives, and America has always offered that choice to immigrants.

White nationalists believe the same ideal that they, as white people, are above others.  The most famous of such groups may be the Klu Klux Klan. The organization is notorious for disenfranchising black people with fear and force, attacking black people in the street, and trying to keep black people suppressed without slavery.  Their mentality was that black people, immigrants, and Jews were the enemy and should be put down to keep them below whites. An example today of white nationalists is when the Charlottesville riot ended up with a person dying because someone rammed his car into the crowd, killing a woman.  The person accused was believed to be a white nationalist, even a fan of Adolf Hitler.

There are many other instances of white nationalism in America, most prominently the police brutality against black people, but it still stands that white nationalists want whites to be held in a higher regard than other people in the country.  President Trump claiming he was a nationalist makes it clear he believes in one group above others – whites.

America was nicknamed the Land of the Free because we gave immigrants opportunities they did not have in their home country.  Normalizing the word, especially into something it is not, is another way people can be fed the hierarchical ideal that whites are at the top, and everyone else is below them.  Allowing the President of the United States to use a nationalist identity is sending a message to the world that he believes people of color in America are not to be held in as high a regard as their white counterparts.

When asked about the use of the word by reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said he had never heard of the word in that context, and he just wanted America to be “treated well, treated with respect”.  Many can take this to be well-intentioned, but our President is seventy-two years old.  He would definitely know where the connotation would be rooted in. If he did not – because of ignorance – he has staff that would tell him that people were not going to take the word lightly.  He even said of the word “nationalism” at the rally, “You know, they have a word.  It’s sort of old-fashioned.”  So claiming ignorance of the word itself, as if it were new, does not work.  Also, as President of the United States, he should not say things he thinks will kick up a storm because he is the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world.  Every word that comes out of his mouth is salient.

Nationalism is a word that stands against everything America was built on: freedom.  Freedom to choose who you want to be, freedom to say what you want, freedom to achieve anything you put your mind to.  Nationalism tells people of color they are below white people – legally, economically, socially – and they cannot be anything white people don’t want them to be.

If our president is identifying as a nationalist – and by extension, a racist – and passing it off as no big deal, and claiming he had never heard of nationalism used as racial exclusion, then we are saying to the people that make up this country they are not as valuable as others in the county.  President Trump should know he can not get away with claiming to be a nationalist while preaching a patriotic philosophy.