Earlier Sunday morning, President Trump retweeted a video of a white man shouting "white power" to protesters in a Florida senior community called The Villages. Aside from its shocking reflection of the President's current state of mind, the tweet also reflects a terrifying observation of America in the summer of 2020:
White nationalism is no longer overshadowed by American cities and villages – it is uncomfortably open to the whole world.
The troubling early morning tweet, in which the president called the demonstrators "great people," is another example of Trump using social media to flirt with white nationalism. It continues its series of comments that appear to support the tacit racism of the white Supremacists. For example, after the 2017 Unite the Right in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a white nationalist rally turned violent, Trump said, “You had some very bad people in this group. But you also had people who were very good people on both sides. "
In another example of his race-baiting language, Trump tweeted about four women of color serving in Congress in 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley from Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib from Michigan, which incorrectly suggests that they are not US citizens. "Why don't they go back and help repair the completely broken and crime-ridden places they came from," tweeted the president. Trump also uses languages like "invasion" and "thugs" to describe immigrants to the United States, especially those who are near our southern border with Mexico. He is not afraid of violent rhetoric, and has recently tweeted that "when the looting begins, the gunfire begins" regarding Minneapolis protests that became violent by four policemen after the murder of George Flynn, an unarmed black man.
But it's not just the president's tweets that provoke controversy. He regularly deals with racist and conspiratorial tweets from others and appears to use other people's words as substitutes for his own beliefs. Given its large following, these tweets are often shared by millions of others, which promotes the spread of hateful rhetoric. Many far-right activists see the president's language as "dog whistles" or signal that Trump, despite his own vows that he is not racist, is sensitive to their views.
Regardless of what Trump really believes, one thing is certain: since Trump's election in 2016, the nation has seen an increase in white nationalism. A recent study by the Anti-Defamation League showed that white nationalist propaganda increased by almost 123 percent in a single year and rose from 1,214 incidents in 2018 to 2,713 in 2019. This is the highest white supremacist activity the organization has ever recorded, ADL said.
President Donald Trump delivers a speech on Medicare at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center. … (+)
The increase in activity is only exacerbated by the pandemic and recent social protests that have swept America after the murders of unarmed blacks like George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. Some white nationalists are joining other groups that have emerged in recent months, such as the Boogaloo movement, which sees America on the path to a new civil war.
Most worrying, however, is how a white supremacist language becomes mainstream, as Trump's tweet suggests early Sunday morning. For a nation that has been shaken to grapple with its history of systemic racism and discrimination, the video of a white man shouting unabashedly "white power" in an upper middle class area in the heart of Florida is as frightening as it is worrying . And in a country that is already deeply divided on many racial issues, the fact that such a troubling video was shared by a president shows a willingness to break all of the conventions when he tries to be re-elected.
How will America curb the troubling tide of white nationalism that doesn't seem shameful? It won't be an easy solution. Once the flames of hatred are lit, extinguishing them is not so easy. But when America gets into an autumn of decision after a spring and summer of struggle, it's clear that more than just elections are at stake …
That is the soul of the nation.