White nationalists praise Trump for going 'full wink-wink-wink'

Donald Trump's many and varied 'disavowals' have led many white nationalist groups to consider him an ally.
(Image credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups have praised the no-filter presumptive Republican nominee for making it acceptable to be outspoken about races they see as invasive or inferior. And although Donald Trump has said he "disavows" the support of such hate groups, many are now claiming that his use of images from white nationalist blogs on Twitter is a "full wink-wink-wink to his most aggressive supporters."

In fact, many white nationalists hear a whole lot of approval in the words "I disavow":

Mr. Trump has often used those words when confronted by reporters. The phrase is comfortingly nonspecific, a disavowal of everything and nothing. And whatever Mr. Trump's intentions, it has been powerfully reassuring to people on the far right."There's no direct object there," [white nationalist Richard] Spencer said. "It's kind of interesting, isn't it?"Mr. Trump's new supporters took his approach as a signal of support. In an interview on a "pro-white" radio show called "The Political Cesspool," [white nationalist William] Johnson, of the American Freedom Party, praised Mr. Trump's handling of the controversy."He disavowed us," Mr. Johnson acknowledged, "but he explained why there is so much anger in America that I couldn't have asked for a better approach from him." [The New York Times]

It would take a serious change of tone to dissuade white nationalists from seeing Trump's disavowals as anything other than a sly wink at them, too. "[Trump] says what everyone thinks," one Trump supporter told The New York Times at a rally in Richmond, Virginia. "He says what we're all thinking. He's bringing people together. We say, 'Hey, that's right; we can say this.'"

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You can learn more about why the groups are so encouraged by Trump's "disavowals" over at The New York Times.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at TheWeek.com. She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.