Trump Says He’s a ‘Nationalist,’ The Far-Right Cheers

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President Donald Trump told the crowd at a rally in Houston, Texas, last night that he was a “nationalist,” thrilling some of his most far-right supporters.

Trump addressed an arena in Houston, Texas, alongside U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who is locked in a tight race against Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. This has Republicans nervous enough to necessitate what Politico deemed “a rescue mission’ by GOP funders, and prompt the visit from Trump in the hope of energizing the Lone Star State’s Republican base. As CNN reported, Trump dedicated his stump speech to “stoking fears about illegal immigration, painting Democrats as criminal accomplices and basking in the glory of his accomplishments.” During his time at the mic, Trump also took the opportunity to declare he was a “nationalist.”

“You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist,” Trump said, “And I say, ‘Really, we’re not supposed to use that word?’ You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? I’m a nationalist. … Use that word.” As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake pointed out, Trump had previously called himself a nationalist in February 2017.

Prior to last night’s rally, the Trump administration has been careful about always adding qualifiers to any use of the word “nationalism” in order to deflect allegations of a racist agenda. Steve Bannon, who led Breitbart News as the platform for the “alt-right” and served as White House Chief Strategist for Trump, frequently qualified his support of nationalism to be “economic” nationalism. “Nationalism” as a term has been wielded by far-right autocrats in Europe to pitch their governing style as an alternative to so-called “globalist” efforts to solve economic and foreign policy issues with collaborative efforts within the European Union.

But naturally, Trump’s embrace of the term without qualifiers thrilled many of the white nationalists supporting Trump, who interpreted his remark to be an endorsement of their agenda, which calls for the United States to craft policy around the interests of a federally enforced white supermajority. It is worth noting that a smaller handful of white nationalists, particularly those who also hold vehemently anti-Semitic beliefs, are still somewhat skeptical of Trump calling himself a “nationalist” because they don’t believe his administration has sufficiently advanced its own idea of a “nationalist” agenda.

As Michael Edison Hayden, a news intelligence analyst with Storyful points out, neo-Nazis tied into the alt-right made a push in 2017 to rebrand their movement as “American Nationalism” after the alt-right was linked to murder and extremism.

Ann Coulter, a conservative pundit with clear ties to the white nationalist movement, wrote that Trump was “sounding like Breitbart” because the midterm elections are approaching.

Jack Posobiec, a One America News commentator with a history of mingling alongside far-right figures like Richard Spencer, said he was a nationalist just like Trump.

Gab, a social media site most notable for hosting conspiracy theorists and white nationalists booted from Twitter, said Trump was “stunning and brave” to “come out of the closet as an American Nationalist.” Gab railed against supposed “anti-nationalist bigotry in media and culture.”

Gab’s CEO Andrew Torba posted on his website that “the Overton Window is officially smashed” and to “feel free to tell everyone you are an American Nationalist now.” As is typical of Gab, the highest ranked response to his post was from a user with the handle “AnonymousWhitey,” who posted a photo of Melania Trump with African children, accompanied by the words, apparently written with disgust, “You mean civic nationalism.”

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A user running an anonymous Twitter account that is popular in far-right internet circles for its frequent racist posts wrote that they were “literally shaking at the moment.” Jared Howe, an alt-right podcaster, remarked that the “Shitposter in Chief really brought the bantz last night in Texas just before declaring himself to be a nationalist (and not a globalist).” An alt-right podcaster using the moniker “Jazzhands McFeels,” and who hosts a podcast called “Fash the Nation” (Fash in this context is shorthand for fascism), stated: “THE FIRE RISES.” White nationalist Nick Fuentes wrote that Trump declaring himself to be a nationalist was a “substantial improvement” from calling himself a patriot, because nationalism “is inherently connected to race.”

Henrik Palmgren of the web-based white nationalist radio station Red Ice posted approvingly of Trump’s remark.

At Infowars, a conspiracy theory outlet with its own ties to extremists, Steve Watson wrote that Trump saying he was a nationalist “triggered CNN’s Don Lemon, as well as many other unhinged leftists, into crying ‘racist’.” Watson went on to write that Trump’s proclamation “triggered a wave of unhinged hate” in which “the blue check mob and their non verified (sic) minion demons threw their collective toys out of the twitter (sic) cot.”

Dinesh D’Souza recently produced a film alleging that Democrats are the real racists, and not the unabashed white nationalists within the Republican Party. After Trump’s “nationalist” remark, D’Souza defended Trump by comparing him to various world leaders.