White Nationalism. Alt-Right. So many new terms have been floating around our society over the last few weeks that it’s hard to keep track. And with so many organizations acting in such shocking similar ways, it’s impossible to tell them apart anyway. So what is the real difference between White Nationalists and the Alt-Right? And why are they different from white supremacy?
Nationalism is defined as a “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” So White Nationalism is a movement for white people to express their patriotism and love for their country, right? Wrong. White Nationalism is essentially a new platform to “reclaim” America as an all-white nation. Their ideology goes back to the Nazi chant “Blood and Soil,”, which was that the only “real” citizens of a certain nation (in that example, Germany) were white people living in rural areas. The Alt-Right think of themselves as educated advocates for their belief that white people define the US as a true political nation.
I know what you’re thinking. These groups undeniably share the same beliefs and mindset as the typical white supremacists. And yet, in most American’s eyes, White Nationalists and the Alt-Right are still separate from the Klu Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. These terms slip into our headlines daily and they don’t even bat an eyelid. How, you ask? With about 32 million of US adults unable to read, most Americans have next to no idea what these new words even mean. At first glance, the word “nationalism” is just another elaborate political term, too complex to try to figure out. “Alt-right” doesn’t even have the word “white” in it, so why would someone immediately associate it with White Supremacy? These groups have websites, organizations and news sites designed to spread the myth that they have legitimate place in America. The Alt-right describe themselves as “youthful” and “jarring” while White Nationalists insist that their philosophy “has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority.” They work hard to hide behind the masks of their names, and we have done nothing to stop them. We use these terms without realizing how much they subconsciously normalize white supremacy. And I hate to break it to you America, but ignoring what we have come to will not make our reality go away. It’s time to unveil these people for what they truly believe.
Renaming white supremacy as a movement to “protect white heritage” does not change what it really is. Giving blatant racism a fancy new term does not erase it. It does not “change the conversation” or give a “new perspective.” It normalizes hatred. It gives bigotry a place in American politics that it does not deserve. It makes white supremacists feel legitimized, as if they aren’t really racists or really in the wrong. It weaves strings of intolerance into our culture while giving society an excuse to look the other way.
Yes, this is America. Yes, this is 2017. Yes, we are still talking about this. And the more “Alt-right” or “White Nationalists” rallies we face, the more we have to start calling out white supremacy for what it is.