“I don’t have a racist bone in my body!” Nationalism and Trump’s tweets


Nationalism is not a benign force. It’s a hysterical crowd chanting ‘send her back’ in North Carolina. It’s the President of the USA stopping, waiting for them to finish. Fuelling their delirium. The pulse beats: it is Us and Them. They are the immigrants. The Blacks. The Jews. The Latinos. They are not America. Who is to be kept in the nation and who is left outside? In America, the story of freedom and liberty for all might be ending here. Ethno-nationalism is on the rise.

After all, Donald’s Trump’s candidacy has always been smattered with racist slurs. But the latest, telling representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib that they ‘originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe’ and should ‘go back’, has crossed an invisible line. Still, despite the chilling footage of his rally in North Carolina he tweeted ‘I don’t have a racist bone in my body!’

What’s truly terrifying is that Trump might honestly believe that he isn’t a racist. These are slippages from nationalism into racism. Does his ethno-nationalism even have a pounding heart of its own? Or is this all a game? Play the minorities for votes and glory. Analysts claim that these attacks are framed to get swing-democrats to see the whole party as identifying with the representatives ‘socialist’ politics (Financial Times 21/07/19). It’s tactical. It’s also chilling.

Nation-building has always been an exclusionary project.

It is within the frame of nationalism that anti-migrant rhetoric steps into racism. Ocasio-Cortez, Presley and Tlaib are women of colour (Latino, Black and Palestinian) who were born in the USA. Omar was born in Sudan and arrived in the USA as a refugee. She is, if you like, an example of The American Dream. The immigrant who ‘made good’ in the country of the free. Now, watching the US President tell these American citizens ‘go home’ reveals the unsettling road ahead.

Western states thought they had resolved any crisis in national identity so they looked East to see unification fall apart in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. But, here it is, unravelling in the public eye. The imagining of a unitary national identity does not bode well for multiculturalism. Tricky, when we do live in multiethnic and multi-religious countries that will only continue to develop and change. The mix and matching of Liberalism increases with globalisation.

Where does it end? With inclusion and equality for all? With an America (and Europe too) that sees people of colour and other minority groups as part of the national body-politic?

Or, here?

‘Send Her Back’

‘Make America Great Again’

‘Make America White’

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