GOP convention kicks off with open white nationalism

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The first speaker at the Republican National Convention called Trump the 'bodyguard of Western civilization' — language often used by white supremacists.

The Republican National Convention began on Monday with a blatant nod to white supremacism.

"From that moment he came down that famous escalator, he started a movement to reclaim our government from the rotten cartel of insiders that have been destroying our country," Charlie Kirk, founder of the right-wing youth group Turning Point USA, said of Donald Trump.

"We may not have realized it at the time, but Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization. Trump was elected to protect our families from the vengeful mob that seeks to destroy our way of life, our neighborhoods, schools, churches and values."

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According to the Anti Defamation League, which describes itself as "a leading anti-hate organization," white supremacists use the term "Western civilization" as "a code word for white culture or identity."

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has a long history of making racist and offensive comments, was kicked off every House committee he served on as punishment for defending his actions by wondering aloud why talking about preserving "Western civilization" was bad.

"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" King told the New York Times in September 2019. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"

Ultimately, King lost his renomination bid in 2020, after his GOP opponent ran on a message that Iowa Republicans were finally tired of the embarrassment King brought upon the state.

But it wasn't just Kirk making nods to white supremacism.

Rebecca Friedrichs, a self-described "school choice advocate," spoke after Kirk to disparage teachers' unions, which she smeared as groups that "perpetuate division, pervert the memories of our American founders, and disparage our Judeo-Christian values."

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, talk of Judeo-Christian values is also veiled language used by far-right extremists.

"During the 1980s and 1990s, right-wing extremists were galvanized by several national issues such as the perceived erosion of parental rights and authority through court rulings, expanding multiculturalism, abortion rights and the decline of the American family farm – all perceived as an attack on their Judeo-Christian beliefs which right-wing extremists view as a key component to America’s founding," the SPLC wrote in an explainer about religious extremism. "These issues were magnified because of the far-right’s perception of a changing political climate which favored expanding benefits and equal opportunities to ethnic minorities, immigrants and other diversity groups."

The first hour of the Republican National Convention, filled with dark rhetoric and white supremacism, was a far cry from the "uplifting" tone Trump promised.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.