Liberal elites are momentarily lifting up their heads from sustained navel-gazing for armchair psychoanalysis of Trump and his supporters. Of NPR’s many embodied Jewish liberal stereotypes, Terry Gross recently interviewed Evan Osnos, author of a New Yorker piece I previously posted about.
GROSS: And, Evan, let me stop here and ask you – we’re using the word white nationalist, as opposed to the word white supremacist? Why are we using white nationalist? It’s the word you use in your article.
Poor Terry, living inside her NPR bubble, has never heard the phrase before and is slightly dazed ‘n confused.
OSNOS: Yeah, it’s a subtle distinction. The difference is that, historically, white supremacist groups believed fundamentally in the idea that one race was superior above all, and that was essential to their ideology. This grew out of slavery and the legacy of it. White nationalist groups believe something slightly different. They believe, in fact, that whites are an endangered species these days, and they say that they’re not standing up for one race over another. They’re standing up for the preservation of their community.
You struggle as a writer, certainly – and we did at the magazine – about whether or not to call these groups white supremacist groups or white nationalist groups. And there are times when I go back and forth. I think we’re certainly not captive to what it is that they want to be called themselves. They prefer to be called white nationalists. Some of them don’t even embrace that term. They want to be called identitarians or other things. But that’s – the terminology, in some ways, can be a bit of a disguise from the fact that there is – there’s an enduring element of this, which is a sort of race-based division that is at the essence of their beliefs. And that hasn’t changed, but there is a distinction going on that’s subtle. And I think the subtle distinction is important because it captures that they don’t feel strong today. In fact, they feel weak, and that’s what being a white nationalist is about. It’s about the sense that, as they put it, we’re facing a cultural genocide. That’s a term that they use over and over again.
White nationalism vs. white supremacism represents two very different things. That the MSM is finally, now, at least acknowledging that there is such a distinction, despite misunderstanding that distinction in egregious ways, is progress, I suppose.