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White nationalism is a political ideology which advocates a racial definition of national identity for white people. It has been argued that white separatism and white supremacism may be considered subgroups within white nationalism. In a 2003 interview, political scientist Carol Swain described research she had done undertaken on the subject, suggesting American white nationalists believed "the interests of each of these groups (Hispanic, black, and white citizens of America) would be better served if each had a separate nation-state of its own". The white nationalist school of thought tends to avoid the term supremacy, because of its negative connotations.
The contemporary white nationalist movement in the United States could be regarded as a reaction to what is perceived as a decline in white demographics, politics and culture. According to Samuel P. Huntington, the contemporary white nationalist movement is increasingly cultured, intellectual and academically trained. Some have suggested that rather than espousing violence, white nationalists tend to use statistics and social science data to argue for a self-conscious white identity. By challenging established policies on immigration, civil rights and racial integration, white nationalists seek to build bridges with moderately conservative white citizens.
White nationalists argue that every nationality feels a natural affection for its own kind. They advocate racial self-preservation and claim that culture is a product of race. According to white nationalist Samuel T. Francis, it is "a movement that rejects equality as an ideal and insists on an enduring core of human nature transmitted by heredity." Jared Taylor, a white nationalist, claims that similar racial views were held by many mainstream American leaders before the 1950s.
Jared Taylor has argued that a natural hierarchy should triumph over the "false promise of egalitarianism", and that the downfall of white dominance spells doom for representative government, the rule of law and freedom of speech.
According to Samuel P. Huntington, white nationalists argue that the demographic shift in the United States towards non-whites brings a new culture that is intellectually and morally inferior. They argue that with this demographic shift comes affirmative action, immigrant ghettos and declining educational standards. Most American white nationalists say immigration should be restricted to people of European ancestry.
White nationalists embrace a variety of religious and non-religious beliefs, including various denominations of Christianity, generally Protestant, although some specifically overlap with white nationalist ideology (Christian Identity, for example, is a family of white supremacist denominations), Germanic Neopaganism (e.g. Wotanism) and atheism.
Most white nationalists define white people in a restricted way. In the United States, it often though not exclusively implies European ancestry of non-Jewish descent. White nationalists draw primarily on 19th-century racial taxonomy, which neither reached a consensus on racial categories nor is accepted by contemporary geneticists. Some white nationalists, such as Jared Taylor, have argued that Jews can be considered "white". Though most white nationalists oppose Israel and Zionism, several white nationalists (such as William Daniel Johnson) have expressed support for Israel.
Different racial theories, such as Nordicism and Germanism, define different groups as white, both excluding some southern and eastern Europeans because of a perceived racial taint. Pan-Aryanism defines whites as individuals native to Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Middle East and Central/West Asia who are wholly of Caucasoid descent or are overwhelmingly from the following Caucasoid subraces, or any combination thereof: Indo-European ("Aryan"-including the Iranian peoples but not the Indo-Aryans), Old European (e.g. Basque), or Hamitic (in modern times supposedly confined to Berbers). Other white nationalists use the term Pan-Europeanism to include all European ethnic groups.
According to one view, white nationalism is a product of the modern centralized state's emergence in the West, like all nationalisms. The term originated as a self-description by some groups, primarily in the United States, to describe their belief in a racially defined collective identity of white people.
In the 19th and early 20th century, racial definitions of the American nation were common, resulting in race-specific immigration restrictions, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act. The 1915 film Birth of a Nation is an example of an allegorical invocation of white nationalism during this time.
The Thule-Society developed out of the "Germanic Order" in 1918, and those who wanted to join the Order in 1917 had to sign a special "blood declaration of faith" concerning the lineage: "The signer hereby swears to the best of his knowledge and belief that no Jewish or coloured blood flows in either his or in his wife's veins, and that among their ancestors are no members of the coloured races." And the Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg said on the 29th of May 1938 on the Steckelburg in Schlüchtern: "It is however certain that all of us share the fate of Europe, and that we shall regard this common fate as an obligation, because in the end the very existence of White people depends on the unity of the European continent."
The White Australia ideal was semi-official policy in Australia until 1975. In South Africa, white nationalism was championed by the National Party starting in 1948, as opposition to apartheid heated up.
Starting in the 1960s, white nationalism grew in the United States as the conservative movement developed in mainstream society. Samuel P. Huntington argues that it developed as a reaction to a perceived decline in the essence of American identity as European, Anglo-Protestant and English-speaking. The slogan "white power" was coined by American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell, who used the term in a debate with Stokely Carmichael of the Black Panther Party, after Carmichael issued a call for "black power".
In recent years, the Internet has provided an expansion of audiences for white nationalism.
Anti-racist organizations generally have argued that ideas such as white pride and white nationalism exist merely to provide a sanitized public face for white supremacy. Kofi Buenor Hadjor argues that black nationalism is a response to racial discrimination, while white nationalism is the expression of white supremacy. Other critics have described white nationalism as a "...somewhat paranoid ideology" based upon the publication of pseudo-academic studies.
Carol M. Swain argues that the unstated goal of white nationalism is to appeal to a larger audience, and that most white nationalist groups promote white separatism and racial violence. Opponents accuse white nationalists of hatred, racial bigotry and destructive identity politics. White supremacist groups have a history of perpetrating hate crimes, particularly against people of Jewish or African descent. Examples include the lynching of black people by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
Some critics argue that white nationalists — while posturing as civil rights groups advocating the interests of their racial group — frequently draw on the nativist traditions of the KKK and the British National Front. Critics have noted the anti-semitic rhetoric used by white nationalists, as highlighted by the promotion of conspiracy theories such as Zionist Occupation Government.