What is White Nationalism?

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The majority of Americans would like to believe that the racist sentiments of our ancestors are in the past, only held by a minority of extremist, ignorant bigots. However, the truth may be much dimmer. White nationalism is simply the by-product of a greater system that has existed for centuries the foundation that the United States was built upon. Whiteness is a social construct invented to maintain wealth and political power by those who benefit from its invention (after all every person is a member of the human race, meaning ethnic race is a social construct).

However, there is certainly such thing as a white identity, most often used to champion hateful rhetoric in order to protect conservative ideals. While white supremacy has existed since the formation of the country, the election of Donald Trump and political leaders who support his ideals have provided a platform for white nationalism to thrive and gain support without consequence. Thus, white nationalism is the outcome of a historically racist American society, the results of which are clear and present in our contemporary socio-political culture.

In order to discuss white nationalism, the term used by its supporters should be clearly outlined. Merriam-Webster defines a white nationalist as a person who espouses white supremacy and advocates enforced racial segregation (Merriam-Webster 2018). The Southern Poverty Law Center further clarifies this definition, adding that white nationalist groups espouse white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhites, providing examples such as the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, and racist skinheads. Essentially, white nationalists benefit from the imagined separation between whiteness and other-ness. As Charles Mills argues in  Revisionist Ontologies, the colonial world is a Manichean world a world cut in two  divided into compartments ... inhabited by two different species, (Mills 1994).

The period of colonialism was the true formation of white supremacy, and nationalists simply take this idea to utilize it for social and political profit. Portraying ethnic minorities as a threat to the white race has proven beneficial, allowing political leaders to grow in rank and collect the support of American citizens, regardless of socioeconomic status, location, and even education level. White nationalists hope to ensure the survival of the white race and the cultures of traditionally white ethnic groups. Indeed, White supremacists fear the white race will be eliminated through intermarriage, immigration, and low birth rates among whites. The solution, to them, is racial segregation, (Khazan 2017). However, these beliefs are only an element of a deeper social problem, not only in the United States, but across the globe.

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What Is White Nationalism?. (2020, Mar 23). Retrieved May 20, 2024 , from

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