It’s ‘love,’ not ‘hate’
The depths of Love are rooted and very deep in a real white nationalist’s soul and spirit, no form of “hate” could even begin to compare. At least not a hate motivated by ungrounded reasoning. It is not hate that makes the average white man look upon a mixed race couple with a scowl on his face and loathing in his heart. It is not hate that makes the white housewife throw down the daily jewspaper in repulsion and anger after reading of yet another child molester or rapist sentenced by corrupt courts to a couple of short years in prison or on parole. It is not hate that makes the white workingman curse about the latest boatload of aliens dumped on our shores to be given job preference over the white citizen who built this land. It is not hate that brings rage into the heart of a white Christian farmer when he reads of billions loaned or given away as “aid” to foreigners when he can’t get the smallest break from an unmerciful government to save his failing farm. No, it’s not hate. It is love.
— Aryan Nations
Since its inception, the United States’ most important social and political identities have revolved around complementary politics of fear and domination, both within electoral spaces and outside of them. White supremacy and the exploitation of racialized fears, ones central to desires for domination, are presently and have always been a driving force for the statecrafting of national identity and the workings of electoral politics. There were the narratives of fear of the “merciless Indian savage” (immortalized in one of America’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence) and entitlement that drove Manifest Destiny. Then following WWII and the defeat of Nazi Germany (and by pseudo-extension, European fascism), Cold War paranoias drove McCarthyism’s anti-communist and anti-leftist demonizations at home and interventions in newly liberated Soviet Union or China-leaning Global Southern states abroad. Fears of the interruption of unfettered racial domination led to the active blockage of post-Reconstruction rights-based gains for black communities during the Civil Rights movement. And contemporary fears of certain kinds of racialized “others” — particularly the existential threat to American freedoms posed by the global radical Islamist threat — have driven bipartisan support for the hypermilitarization of not only American police and domestic security structures, but also an intervention-prone neoconservative policy abroad.
It is in this historical context that Donald Trump has laughably been cast as the anomalous embodiment of white supremacy: as an “embarrassment” to white people per white liberal exceptionalism, as a uniquely fringe element within the Republican Party despite the clear rightward intra-party movement since 2009. But in presenting Trump as uniquely bad, uniquely racist, or uniquely xenophobic, we overlook the ways in which his rhetoric employs the kind of white nationalisms that speak to far more American people than we’d like to admit.
Not long ago, Rocky Suhayda the chair of the American Nazi Party declared that a Trump victory and presidency would be a “real opportunity” for white nationalists to more widely begin building pro-white movements and political coalitions.
On his radio show, Suhayda said: “Now, if Trump does win, okay, it’s going to be a real opportunity for people like white nationalists, acting intelligently to build upon that, and to go and start — you know how you have the black political caucus and what not in Congress, and, everything, to start building on something like that, okay…It doesn’t have to be anti, like the movement’s been for decades, so much as it has to be pro-white.”
The kind of racialized discourse we widely see as unacceptable is frequently described as hate speech: the use of racial epithets, the explicit commentaries that non-white communities are destroying America, the kind of rhetoric typified why neo-Nazis and the Klan and other white supremacist groups. More subtle, and fundamentally less objectionable and far more effective, are the rhetorics of hate that revolve around love.
In Sarah Ahmed’s Affective Economies, she unpacks the political positionings of defensive white self and racialized others: she describes the uses of hate-based speech as “passionate attachment tied closely to love.” In explaining the quote taken from the Aryan Nations website, she says:
Here a subject (the white nationalist, the average white man, the white housewife, the white working man, the white citizen, and the white Christian farmer) is presented as endangered by imagined others whose proximity threatens not only to take something away from the subject (jobs, security, wealth), but to take the place of the subject. In other words, the presence of these others is imagined as a threat to the object of love. The narrative involves a rewriting of history, in which the labor of others (migrants, slaves) is concealed in a fantasy that it is the white subject who “built this land.” The white subjects claim the place of hosts (“our shores”) at the same time as they claim the position of the victim, as the ones who are damaged by an “unmerciful government.” The narrative hence suggests that it is love for the nation that makes the white Aryans hate those whom they recognize as strangers, as the ones who are taking away the nation and the role of the Aryans in its history, as well as their future.
It is a fear of losing social position of uncontested dominance (that would necessarily entail violent subjugation by brute racialized people) that drives these rhetorics of hate. It is the global racialized epistemologies of ignorance that enable revised histories positing white dominances as natural and expansion as divinely ordained.
Donald Trump’s slogan to “Make America Great Again” is such an employment of a white dominance appealing to emotion: to the most visceral kind of fear-based love. It appeals to the sentiments of white nationalists — the heyday of so-called “American greatness” incidentally was the period of uncontested white dominance — while it can feign ambiguity about being specifically and pointedly racist. Cut to Donald Trump claiming he does not want neo-Nazi support despite repeatedly retweeting Nazi/Nazi-sympathetic accounts on Twitter and refusing to denounce the support he has received from them, unlike, funnily enough, Ronald Reagan who repudiated the Klan in 1984 after receiving their endorsement in both ’80 and ’84.
Despite actively distancing himself from the white supremacist elements endorsing his politics (and thus implicitly claiming the “politics of racial hatred…practiced by the Klan and others” that “have no place in this country” were also absent from his own politics), Reagan’s policies were a white nationalist’s wet dream. From the virulently racist and anti-poor War on Drugs, to his fatal response to the burgeoning HIV/AIDS epidemic, to his VETO of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act that was overridden and passed by Congress in 1986, to his opposition to civil rights legislation of the 1960s, to his participation in Cold War-era anti-communist witch hunts as an FBI informant while president of the Screen Actors Guilds, to his disastrous neoliberal Reaganomics that ravaged working poor and working- and middle-class Americans, Reagan embodied the politics espoused by white nationalists. He remains an icon for American conservatism, and many establishment conservatives/Republicans have outright denounced Donald Trump despite sharing his views or despite his espoused politics being a logical extension of theirs (e.g. the logical extension of Bush-era securitization and profiling of Muslims is arguably banning their entry to the United States, and yet the tide turned when Trump proposed this as possibility despite party support of Bush’s War on Terror security politics).
So why, too, the Trump exceptionalism from the GOP, particularly when Bush appointees lauded by the Republican Party are hopping ship?
Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and a massive proponent of the successful campaign for Britain’s exit from the European Union, has now come stateside to endorse Donald Trump. The eerie significance is not lost, because while many Americans probably don’t know who Farage is, Trump instrumentalized his party’s role in the Brexit campaign — one that utilized images that outright mirrored Nazi propaganda — and hoped to use his victory in Britain to inspire Americans to similarly “take control of their own future” on November 8th.
During his Wednesday remarks to Trump supporters, he said: “I come from the United Kingdom with a message of hope and a message of optimism…It’s a message that says if the little people, if the real people, if the ordinary, decent people are prepared to stand up and fight for what they believe in, we can overcome the big banks, we can overcome the multinationals.” Further, he remarked: “On the day of the vote itself, that morning they put us ten points behind…They were all wrong. . . . We reached those people who have been let down by modern global corporatism. We reached those people who have never voted in their lives but believed, by going out and voting for Brexit, they could take back control of their country, take back control of their borders, and get back their pride and self-respect.”
The scariest part of Trump’s politics is the heavy-handedness (compared to GOP’s more standard approach of slightly more subtle appeals) which he espouses a politic of white self-determination: from whom is the country being taken back? So many white people, including mutinous establishment Republicans, love Donald Trump because he articulates an acceptably veiled white nationalism: one fundamentally similar to what we would describe as hate groups, yet does not use the socially alienating and “unacceptable” rhetorics of hate.
His supporters are patriots who love America, they want to see a safe future for their children and they want to be protected from outside threats, they want to ensure that American people get the best opportunities, they want to make America great again. All of this language is, of course, heavily coded: it speaks to the erosion of whiteness by multiculturalism and “too lax” border policies, to the attainment of rights and citizenship by people of color, to the threat to family values presented by queer and trans people (and probably miscegenation). It’s a publicly articulatable white nationalism, and because this country is founded on anti-indigenous and anti-black settler colonialism and white people are socialized into investment in these structures, it sells flawlessly and it can be difficult to counter because investment in white supremacy is a bipartisan one.
Even if Donald Trump does not win the presidential election, American electoral politics have been affected for the worst. He is opposed by mainstream conservatism because he centers the “fringe” conservative populism they’ve wrestled party control from for the past few years, not because his politics are reprehensible fearmongering. He has created a space for renewed electoral interest and participation of unashamed bigots who have been emboldened by his campaign and candidacy. And he’s being countered, not by a strong and cohesive “left,” but a fractured one that is more invested in electoral gains and superficial reforms and a reactive politic of fear than in actively seeking to mitigate them (e.g. actively counter the Southern Strategy exploitations of white working class by speaking to their social, political, and economic concerns rather than altogether neglecting them) and mobilizing in support of marginalized communities.
Donald Trump is a mere symptom of a systemic malady, not the illness itself. I just hope that this country does not continue to place bandages over necrotic wounds and vainly hope they heal.