By Diane Roberts
In a recent CNN interview (and on many previous occasions), Alabama U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville insisted that the phrase a “white nationalist” simply meant someone who’s “a good American.”
When reporter Kaitlan Collins explained — slowly — that “a white nationalist is someone who believes that the white race is superior to other races,” Tuberville huffed, “Well, that’s some people’s opinion.”
Some people like, say, Tommy Tuberville? Or Ron DeSantis? Moms for Liberty? The congressional Freedom Caucus? The right-wing Supreme Court majority? All those angry (yet terrified) Caucasians watching what they always assumed was “their” country become more brown and less Christian?
Tuberville later retreated a bit from what sounded like something Foghorn Leghorn would say at the monthly klavern barbecue, but no matter what language he and his fellow knuckle-draggers use, he’s another example of how the Republican brand is no longer bigger business and smaller government.
It’s white supremacy. Their platform? White supremacy. Their political and social goals? White supremacy.
The U.S. Supreme Court seems to share the Republicans’ obsession with making America white again. Gutting the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and striking down affirmative action in university admissions dismisses the institutional racism of centuries of oppression, favoring instead the pale and the privileged.
And speaking of pale and privileged, declaring opposition to “multiculturalism” and pledging to “support Christian Nationalism across the country,” the College Republicans — the future of the party! — have invited Nick Fuentes, the out and proud anti-Semite and racist who boasts he’s “just like Hitler,” to this year’s national convention on July 30.
Fuentes, whose pals include neo-Confederates and Klan-adjacent types, is popular with certain congressional Republicans. Reps. Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene made an appearance at his America First shindig last year.
A few alleged grown folks in the Republican Party actually condemned Gosar and Greene, shocked! shocked! that they would associate with anti-Semites (they weren’t so bothered about the racism).
Surely not that nice Paul Gosar, the one who posted a cheery video about murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and employed an aide with ties to neo-Nazis?
Or the lovely and talented MTG, she of the Jewish space lasers? She said she didn’t even know who Fuentes was, or if she did, well, what matters is those “Pharisees” trying to destroy Jesus’ America: “We’re not going to be deterred by journalists and Washington insiders who fear the name of our Lord,” she proclaimed, “and relentlessly attack those of us who proclaim his name.”
Greene was famously shunned by the “insiders” of her own party for a while, but she’s now at the heart of congressional power, a close ally of Kevin McCarthy in a legislative body reluctant to condemn white supremacy and paranoid about an “immigrant invasion” designed to destroy American culture, engineered by nefarious non-Christian, un-American, crypto-Marxists from George Soros to Hillary Clinton to the Pentagon.
Not joking: Republicans have turned on the United States military.
Members of Congress who keep forgetting to get their rabies shots have worked themselves into a froth over gay soldiers, trans soldiers, diverse soldiers, and soldiers reading critical race theory.
You may recall that time in 2021 when U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida’s Most Punchable person, tried to challenge the military’s diversity reading matter and Gen. Mark Milley took him down: “I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin,” Milley said. “That doesn’t make me a communist. So, what is wrong with understanding — having some situational understanding about the country we are here to defend?”
Now the Republican House wants the Pentagon to ban critical race theory as well as drag shows and women controlling their own reproduction. Oh, and do something about China, too, if there’s time after trying to make the services whiter, maler, and straighter.
Tommy Tuberville’s single-handedly holding up 265 promotions: Officers and their families have no idea where they’ll be stationed or when, because ol’ Tommy objects to funding military womenfolk to get access to abortions.
Ain’t like there’s any trouble brewing in Foreign Parts.
Not to be outdone, Florida’s tantrum-prone governor’s hollering about “wokeness,” vowing that when he’s in the White House, “On Day 1, we’re ripping out all the Obama-Biden policies to woke-ify the military.”
That’s just one component of DeSantis’ white supremacist agenda: He’s also trying to erase diversity as a goal in education and suppress learning about this country’s systemic racism. He wants to end birthright citizenship, too.
DeSantis conjures up images of “alien hordes” incentivized to get here by any means necessary so they can drop a baby on American soil and claim unearned American citizenship for that little freeloader.
He says he wants to defy the Fourteenth Amendment, which ensures that anyone born in the United States is entitled to equal protection under the law. It was passed right after the Civil War to give the formerly enslaved their rights — or, at least, try to.
DeSantis prefers to think the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t actually say what it says.
Justice Clarence Thomas, his fellow irascible Ivy Leaguer, is also inclined to read the Fourteenth Amendment as somehow color-blind.
In Thomas’ concurring opinion in the court’s dismantling of affirmative action, he argues that the amendment doesn’t really have anything to do with race.
This might come as a surprise to descendants of slaves and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement.
America let her in
Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that white supremacists aren’t always white.
They are, however, always hypocrites. Ron DeSantis is the great-great-grandchild of Luigia Colluci, a woman who landed at Ellis Island on Feb. 21, 1917, with no visa, 16 days after Congress passed an immigration act designed to keep the likes of her out.
The law was aimed in particular at Asians, southern Europeans, and other “undesirables,” including “idiots, imbeciles, poor, beggars, criminals, polygamists, anarchists, people with physical and mental disabilities, the sick, prostitutes,” etc. — a population that would not help keep America a “white man’s country.”
Luigia Colluci was illiterate — technically a disqualifier — and pregnant with an anchor baby.
America let her in.
The rest — as we know to our sorrow — is history.
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books.