White supremacy in the villages? What Trump’s troublesome tweet says about the United States

Early Sunday morning, President Trump retweeted a video of a white man shouting “white power” at protesters in a Florida senior community called The Villages. Beyond its shocking reflection of the President’s current state of mind, the now-deleted Tweet also reflects a terrifying observation from the United States in the summer of 2020:

White nationalism is no longer in the shadows of America’s cities and towns, it is uncomfortable for everyone to see.

The haunting early-morning tweet, in which the President referred to protesters as “great people,” is yet another instance of Trump using social media to flirt with white nationalism. He continues with his series of comments that apparently support the unspoken racism of white supremacists. For example, after the 2017 “Right Wing Union” in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a white nationalist demonstration turned violent, Trump said: “You had some very bad people in that group. But there were also people who were very good people, on both sides. ”

In another example of his language of racial harassment, in 2019 Trump tweeted about four women of color serving in Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan , incorrectly suggesting that they were not US citizens. “Why don’t they come back and help repair the totally broken and crime-infested places they came from?” The president tweeted. Trump also uses language like “invasion” and “thugs” to describe immigrants to the United States, particularly with respect to those located near our southern border with Mexico. He does not shy away from violent rhetoric, he recently tweeted that “when the looting begins, the shooting begins,” referring to Minneapolis protests that turned violent after the murder of unarmed black man George Floyd by four police officers.

But it’s not just the President’s Tweets that generate controversy. He regularly deals with the racist and conspiratorial Tweets of others, apparently using the words of others as representatives of his own beliefs. Given their large following, those Tweets are often shared by millions of people, fueling the spread of hate rhetoric. Many far-right activists view the president’s language as “dog whistles” or indicate that, despite his own votes that he is not racist, Trump is empathetic with his views.

Regardless of what Trump really believes, one fact is true: Since Trump’s election in 2016, the nation has seen an increase in white nationalism. A recent study by the Anti-Defamation League showed a nearly 123 percent increase in white nationalist propaganda in a single year, from 1,214 incidents in 2018 to 2,713 in 2019. This is the highest level of white supremacist activity than the organization has registered, The ADL Said.

The surge in activity is only exacerbated by the pandemic and the recent social protests that have gripped the United States in the wake of the killings of unarmed black people, including George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. Some white nationalists are aligning with other groups that have emerged in recent months, such as the Boogaloo movement, which sees the United States as a new civil war.

Most puzzling, though, is the way white supremacist language is becoming mainstream, as suggested by Trump’s tweet on Sunday morning. For a nation that has been rocked by confronting its history of racism and systemic discrimination, the video of a white man blatantly shouting “white power” to protesters in an upper-middle-class area in the heart of Florida is as chilling as it is troubling. . . And in a country that is already deeply divided on many issues related to race, the fact that such a disturbing video was shared by a president shows a willingness to break all conventions while seeking reelection is disturbing.

How is America going to stem the worrying tide of white nationalism that is apparently unaffected by shame? It will not be an easy solution. Once the flames of hate are kindled, it is not so easy to extinguish them. But as the United States heads into a fall of decision after a spring and summer of struggle, it is clear that there is more than elections at stake …

This is the soul of the nation.