The White Nationalist Fringe is Moving to the Center of the Republican PartyRoundup
tags: Republican Party, far right, racism, extremism, White Nationalism
Annika Brockschmidt is a freelance journalist, author, a podcast-producer who currently writes for the Tagesspiegel, ZEIT Online and elsewhere. Her second non-fiction book America's Holy Warriors: How the Religious Right endangers Democracy was published in German in October 2021 and was an immediate bestseller. She co-hosts the podcast "Kreuz und Flagge" ("Cross and Flag") with visiting professor at Georgetown University, Thomas Zimmer, which explores the history of the Religious Right.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” It was this statement that finally got Steve King, the former Iowa Republican, stripped of his committee assignments in the House of Representatives. This wasn’t the first time he’d signaled sympathy for the far right—after all, he’d had a long history of racist, bigoted remarks about immigrants and he’d even retweeted Nazi-sympathizers.
But while racism and the odd white supremacist retweet could be overlooked by the GOP due to his strong following in the midwest, it was King’s full-throated promotion of white supremacy and white nationalism as a virtue that finally proved too much even for the GOP. And so, in 2019, Republicans unanimously voted to remove him from his committee assignments (though he wasn’t removed from the “G.O.P. House conference itself, so he [could] still attend its party meetings”).
Since then, the GOP has been radicalized even further, and at a pace that’s left even some of the most critical political commentators stunned. Three years later, in 2022, and another member of congress, Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, stood proudly next to a white supremacist and Nazi-sympathizer, Nick Fuentes, at his America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), where he later praised Putin and Hitler.
Greene, initially laughed off as part of the lunatic fringe of the GOP, has become a part of its mainstream. Even Republicans admit that her endorsement carries a great deal of weight. In fact, four “Republican operatives” told The Daily Beast that only one endorsement is better than hers. “If you can’t get Donald Trump, you are going to want to have MTG in your back pocket,” said one.
Greene was stripped of her committee assignments as well—only this time, just a couple of years later, the vote did not include the majority of Republicans. Despite her remarks minimizing the Holocaust, questioning 9/11 and school shootings, and calling for violence against Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, only eleven House Republicans broke ranks and voted with Democrats to relieve Greene of her committees. For those keeping count, 199 Republicans voted against the resolution. Kevin McCarthy, minority leader of the House, blamed the Democrats, calling the vote a “partisan power grab.”
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