What are the traits that make someone the most likely to become a white nationalist?
According to a new study from the Institute for Family Studies, two traits in particular are most likely to make white nationalism appealing to white men: They have low incomes and they have been divorced. In fact, the study found that “a divorced respondent was 1.78 times as likely to score high” on an index of white nationalist sympathies compared to someone who has never been married.
George Hawley, a professor of political science at the University of Alabama, theorizes that the feelings of powerlessness that engulf unemployed men who are going through a divorce make them uniquely vulnerable to white nationalist messages that give them an easy scapegoat to blame for their problems.
“There is not an obvious connection between being divorced and feelings about race,” he writes. “It is possible that the experience of divorce makes one feel more alienated and negative in general.”
In his conclusion, Hawley writes that encouraging strong marriage and discouraging divorce might be an effective counter to the rise of white nationalism, although he also says that greater levels of college education — and the higher income that, on average, accrues to college graduates — could also seriously diminish the appeal of racism.