Kanye West, Trump and Antisemitism May Displace Christian Nationalists
- Recent antisemitic remarks by Nick Fuentes and Kanye West have sparked outrage.
- Experts agree that they exposed a darker side Christian nationalism, but experts disagree.
- This could be a hindrance to the recent revival in mainstream politics of Christian nationalism.
Former President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes helped shine a spotlight on antisemitism that some on the right have tried to ignore — and could hinder the growing mainstream influence of Christian nationalism.
“The Christian nationalism label was already generating a lot discussion amongst conservative Christians throughout the United States. You add antisemitism, and that creates another set divisions. Philip GorskiYale University sociologist and co-author “The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy,” told Insider.
Trump met with Ye and Fuentes — a white supremacist and Christian nationalist known for sharing racist and antisemitic views — at Mar-a-Lago on November 22. The former president later denied knowing anything about Fuentes, but weeks before the meeting Ye had also received criticism for his own antisemitic comments, including saying he was going to go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”
Ye’s antisemitism continued, boosted by the notoriety of the meeting with Trump. On December 1, the rapper appeared with Fuentes on Alex Jones’ Infowars show, during which he praised Adolf Hitler and downplayed the Holocaust.
Ye working with Fuentes and meeting with Trump — and the way he’s previously been embraced by others on the right, from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee — have forced some conservatives and Christian nationalists to reckon with a side of the movement they have preferred to pretend wasn’t there.
Christian nationalism and white supremacy
Gorski said he and other scholars of Christian nationalism have been saying for a long time that the ideology was tangled up with white supremacism, but they received a lot of pushback for it. “People saying, ‘It’s not true. I don’t know anybody who’s like that. I don’t know anybody who thinks that,'” Gorski explained.
The recent scandals with Ye and Fuentes have “just brought some of that deeper, uglier stuff up to the surface and into broad daylight, but it was there the whole time.”
Christian nationalism can generally be distilled down to the belief that Christianity and the US are intrinsically linked and that the religion should have a privileged position in American society. Americans who support Christian nationalist ideas may not identify as Christian nationalists. They also might embrace some aspects of the ideology but not others, so there’s a wide spectrum of Christians who could be considered part of the movement.
“White Christian nationalism is older than the United States itself and it goes back to really the 17th century,” Gorski explained, adding that the concept “in many ways emerged as a way of justifying stealing Native lands and killing Indigenous people, and enslaving kidnapped Africans.”
Today there are still many Christian nationalists who, when talking about good Americans, are thinking of people who look and think like them, he said: “That means, first and foremost, conservative white Christians.”
Andrew Whitehead, a sociologist at IUPUI and co-author of “Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States,” has found similar connections between Christian nationalism and antisemitism.
“In our book, we show that Americans who embrace Christian nationalism more strongly are more likely to agree that ‘Jews hold values that are morally inferior to me,’ ‘Jews want to limit the personal freedoms of people like me,’ and ‘Jews endanger the physical safety of people like me,'” WhiteheadInsider.
Additional research has also found close connections between Christian nationalism, antisemitism, QAnon followers, supporters of Trump. And a how-to guide to Christian nationalism published in September by Gab Founder Andrew Torba was rife with antisemitism.
The Christian right divided
Despite the connection, Gorski said Christian nationalists would likely have “pretty complicated reactions”To the Ye and Fuentes situation “because they have a pretty complicated relationship to Israel and Judaism and American Jews.”
Gorski said there is much less blatant antisemitism among conservative Christians in the US than there was in the mid-20th century. He said it’s hard to quantify, but he believes the average “garden variety Christian nationalists are probably not explicitly or consciously antisemitic,” even though there’s a “hardcore faction” that is.
The American right has also been closely linked to support of Israel in recent decades, in part due to what Gorski described as an expansion pack for Christian nationalism: Christian Zionism — which refers to a belief among some Christians that the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 was the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy.
A LifeWay poll conducted in 2017 found that 80 percent of evangelical Christians, a group that is more likely to embrace Christian nationalism, believed the creation of Israel was part of the fulfillment of a prophecy in the Bible that would lead to the return of Christ. The survey respondents were also overwhelmingly politically conservative.
Gorski noted there is also a sentiment among some conservative Christians that differentiates between Jewish people by location, describing the thinking as: “Jews’ real homeland is Israel, so a good Jew is in Israel, so an American Jew is not a good Jew.” Under this strange logic, a Christian Zionist could be considered a better Jew than a Jew, he explained, noting a comment made in October by the wife of Doug Mastriano, the failed Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate. When addressing accusations of antisemitism against her husband, Rebecca Mastriano said “we probably love Israel more than a lot of Jews do.”
The divide among Christian nationalists when it comes to Jewish people was on display when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia publicly criticized Fuentes, even though she herself has been accused of antisemitism and even appeared at an event with him earlier this year.
Greene is one of the few prominent Republicans — and only member of Congress — to openly identify as a Christian nationalist. But following the Alex Jones appearance, she publicly denounced Fuentes and his “racist” and “antisemitic” ideology. She also called him “racist” and “immature” on her show and said it “makes no sense” for Ye to align with him.
Fuentes responded by attacking her character: “She wants to be the face of Christian nationalism. She’s divorced, and she’s actively an adulterer,” he said, referencing rumors. “How are you going to be the face of Christian nationalism when you’re a divorced woman girlboss?”
Saying the quiet part out loud could hurt the Christian nationalism movement
Greene’s rejection of Fuentes was also notable, as it forced her to confront a side of Christian nationalism that she had previously refused to acknowledge.
In addition to self-identifying with the term, she’s become a major proponent of its ideals. Greene has said the GOP should be the party of Christian nationalism and even sells merch adorned with the term. She has also tried to dismiss criticism of the movement as coming from the “godless left” who hate both the US and God, and has ignored those who have pointed out the documented connections between Christian nationalism and white supremacy.
But Fuentes and Ye, empowered by a high-profile meeting with the former president, have made those connections much harder to ignore — and could help deter conservative Christians who may otherwise have been intrigued by the movement.
While Christian nationalism as an idea is still in decline, its recent resurgence could be threatened if far-right figures continue to spotlight its worst aspects.
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