Senator Tommy Tuberville can’t—or won’t—wrap his mind around the fact that white nationalism is inherently racist.
The Alabama Republican has insisted multiple times in recent months, including twice in the past 24 hours, that while racism is bad, white nationalists are not racist. The Southern Poverty Law Center defines white nationalists as groups that “espouse white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhite persons. Their primary goal is to create a white ethnostate.” So it’s pretty clearly an ideology based on racism.
White nationalist “is just a name that’s been given,” Tuberville told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins Monday night, seemingly intentionally conflating being white and being a white nationalist. “So if you’re going to do away with most white people in this country out of the military, we’ve got huge problems.”
People have different beliefs, and “if racism is one of those beliefs, I am totally against it,” Tuberville said.
When Collins told him that that was what white nationalism entailed, Tuberville said, “Well, that’s your opinion.”
When ABC reporter Rachel Scott pressed him on the matter Tuesday morning, Tuberville doubled down, insisting the racism element was simply one definition of white nationalism, but not the definition.
Even more frightening than Tuberville’s seemingly deliberate obtuseness, though, is why he is defending white nationalists: He believes they should be allowed to serve in the military. In May, the senator said white nationalists should be allowed in the U.S. military because blocking any ideological group from serving would weaken the institution. Tuberville also referred to the military as a “strong, hard-nosed, killing machine,” which could possibly explain why he thinks extremists belong in the armed forces.
But if we’re talking about a weakened military, Tuberville should look in the mirror. Marine Corps Commandant David Berger stepped down Monday, leaving the corps leaderless for the first time in more than a century. His replacement has been nominated but not yet confirmed because Tuberville has blocked hundreds of military promotions since March in objection to the Defense Department’s abortion policy. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has warned Tuberville’s blockade “harms America’s national security” and poses a “clear risk” to the military’s readiness.