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White nationalism is ‘the greatest threat to American democracy’: Fascism expert

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On Thursday’s edition of MSNBC’s “All In,” The Atlantic staff writer and fascism expert Adam Serwer laid out in grim terms the stakes of President Donald Trump’s incitement of racist anger against Democratic congresswomen of color.

“From the beginning, we have been haunted by this question: Is America a white man’s republic or a nation for all of its citizens?” said Serwer. “Throughout the last 200-some odd years, the greatest threat to American democracy has always been white nationalism, the defining of American citizenship in racial terms. It almost destroyed the country on multiple occasions. Now President Trump has drawn a line. He has now made it clear that the citizenship of American citizens who are not white is conditional and can be revoked. Quite frankly, there is lots of disagreement between the two political parties. There are lots of issues on which we differ, but this is not a question on which there can actually be disagreement. The choice is now quite clear.”

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“I want to play the clip of [segregationist presidential candidate] George Wallace in 1968, and at the time people were shocked by his rallies,” said anchor Chris Hayes. “People were writing about the thrill for the people in the audience, and he would sort of bait protesters who had come. Take a look at a clip and I want to get your reaction to it.”

“You know the biggest bigots in the world, they are the folks that call other folks bigots,” said Wallace in the clip. “They are the biggest bigots in the world. You know what you are. You are a little punk. That’s all you are.”

“Wallace was never president of the United States,” said Serwer. “What we saw last night was one of the most grotesque displays by an American president in the history of this country. We have not seen anything like it before. We have had racist presidents and demagogues in the White House. We never had a president who singled out a minority or a person of color or a woman or representative or person of Congress for political hatred for the masses. It is astonishing.”

“We never had that before, in part because we never had multiracial democracy as real as it is right now,” added Hayes. “Part of what is at this point, there is an Ilhan Omar in Congress. That has not happened before. And the president understands that that freaks out the people in his base.”

“It terrifies them,” agreed Serwer.

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