In the aftermath of several recent mass shootings, many Democrats have repeatedly labeled President Donald Trump as a “white nationalist” or a “white supremacist.” Beto O’Rourke likened his rhetoric to that of the Third Reich, and this viewpoint is shared across much of the Democratic Party.
While the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” are applied increasingly liberally, it seems important to remind ourselves of the definitions of these ideologies before making such accusations.
- White nationalism is based upon the belief of a “white race” and the development of a white national identity.
- White supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to other races.
- Both ideologies have racism running at their very core — usually including unabashed hatred of Jews and racial minorities.
After some of Trump’s rhetoric was defined as racist or xenophobic by critics, his detractors on the Left saw one short goose-step between subjective criticism and invalid accusations of white supremacy or white nationalism. However, the fact that Trump is white and has been labeled as a racist is obviously insufficient evidence of “white nationalistic” ideology.
Those who blindly criticize Donald Trump as a white supremacist are doing so from a position of ignorance or cynicism. In both cases, they should be forced to provide justification beyond merely claiming that “Trump is racist.” After all, as children, we are taught basic logical principles. One example is that “all apples are fruits, but not all fruits are apples.” Even if Trump were racist (and there is no evidence that he is), we must still remember that “all white supremacists are racist, but not all racists are white supremacists.”
One clear counter-argument to the lazy accusations leveled against Trump is the fact that targeted hatred and subjugation of Jews and black people is a core underlying principle of white supremacist ideology. With this in mind, it seems that Trump would be appallingly bad at being a white supremacist. Trump’s daughter converted to Judaism, he has a town named after him in the Jewish state of Israel, and black unemployment is at its lowest rate on record. In addition, the claim that Trump reserves certain acerbic language — such as “infestation” — for racial minorities is a lie. For example, Trump called New Hampshire a “drug-infested den.” New Hampshire is 93.9% white.
Instead of accepting these realities, the common response is to pivot to the claim that Trump is a white supremacist because he is supported by some fringe white supremacists. This is based upon yet another logical fallacy called “guilt by association,” whereby guilt is assigned based on some irrelevant association or shared attribute. For example: “You have black hair. Hitler had black hair. Therefore, you are Hitler.”
While criticisms of Trump’s presidential campaign can arguably be made regarding instances of pandering to the alt-right, neither Trump’s rhetoric nor his actions in office provide any substantive proof to suggest that he is a white supremacist. The fact that some white supremacists support Trump is evidence — at the very most — that they share some perceived or actual common viewpoints. However, this is only relevant if the shared policies are elements of the white supremacist ideology — and there is no evidence of this.
In addition, it is glaringly obvious that support alone does not indicate a completely shared ideology. After Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) anti-Semitic tweets implying that Israel had “hypnotized the world,” David Duke, a former “Grand Wizard” of the Klu Klux Klan, came out in support of Omar.
Following the Left’s logic, Ilhan Omar is a white supremacist and supports the Klu Klux Klan. While much of Ilhan Omar’s ideology is utterly detestable, this is clearly an absurd assertion. Indeed, if the vocal support of one white supremacist were all that were needed to condemn a politician, all members of the Klu Klux Klan would come out in support of every one of their political enemies — leaving the electorate no choice but to vote the KKK into power.
Critics of Trump are more than welcome to voice their displeasure regarding Trump’s policies or character. However, if they are going to level such appalling allegations of “white supremacy” or “white nationalism,” they should be forced to provide evidence beyond “he’s white and I think he’s racist.” Refusing to do so shows a dismissive attitude towards the specificity of words, and a complete lack of acknowledgment for how despicable the ideologies of white nationalism and white supremacy truly are.