White Nationalism by David Montgomery


“White nationalism” is now the catchphrase of the day for the Left to use in maligning President Trump. In response to a question about the New Zealand killings, the President gave the perfectly reasonable reply that he did not see white nationalism as a rising threat. For this, he was immediately attacked by the self-appointed censors of political discourse. As the former president of Harvard University, Larry Summers, learned a number of years ago, questioning the dogmas of the left will bring down wrath but not constructive debate.

There are four reasons why skepticism about the threat of white nationalism is justified: numbers, vagueness, motivation and organization.

By the numbers, white nationalism clearly does not compare to Islamic terrorism. In 2017 alone, Islamic terrorists murdered 18,753 innocent men, women and children who would not submit to one form of radical Islam or another, and 236,000 in the past decade. The names of the organizations are a litany of terror: Al Quaeda, ISIS, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, the Moslem Brotherhood, the Taliban. In comparison, there were just 158 deaths from attacks by far right extremists in Europe and North America between 2002 and 2017. The left tries hard to conceal this simple fact by talking about increasing trends and percentages while obscuring the huge disproportion in actual attacks.

The label “white nationalist” has been applied to so many different people that it has become virtually meaningless except as a signifier of dislike. The label used to be “alt-right,” a term whose lack of specificity was obvious, but “white nationalist” sounds so much scarier. Most of those who are now labelled white nationalists by the social justice warriors abhor physical violence. Publicly opposing illegal entry by Hispanics crossing the southern border frequently earns the label. Opposing admission of economic refugees from Middle Eastern countries does the same. Even comparing the accomplishments of Western Civilization with failed states in Africa will earn the label, and wearing a MAGA hat will certainly do so. None of these actions have any connection to murderous attacks. With this vague and expansive use of the term “white nationalist,” any question about the topic is an invitation to be misinterpreted.

The murderers who have been labeled white nationalists were all loners and nuts. None were found to have any direct encouragement to act from a white nationalist organization. Their actions stemmed from a deep psychopathology, and while racist leanings may have affected their choice of targets, the violence came from within.

This should be obvious to those who apply the label “white nationalists” to such a large percentage of the American population. If most Trump supporters are white nationalists, then the likelihood of a white nationalist becoming a deranged killer cannot be significantly greater than the likelihood of a member of any other group, or the general population, becoming one. Normal people have not been made into killers by the political propaganda of extreme white nationalists, any more than they have become mass murderers of other types.

There does seem to be some evidence that the number of incidents in which sociopaths have murdered Jews or people of color has increased. Incidents in which disturbed students attacked a school or angry individuals shot up a workplace have also increased. But these incidents of deranged behavior are very different from the motivation of Islamic terrorists and Jihadis. There is an entire belief system behind Islamic jihad, dating back to Mohammed’s decision to convert Jews to Islam by force when they rejected his incoherent preaching in Mecca. This makes the pool of potential murderers much larger than the pool of racist sociopaths.

Granted that many perpetrators of suicide attacks have been forced to wear their suicide vests. Yet the core and leadership of jihad appear to be following the very clear precepts and instructions of the Koran. Even the lone wolf terrorists of recent years were converts to this belief, and not the deranged loners who carried out “white nationalist” attacks. Pope Benedict ignited a firestorm of criticism when he repeated the question that a Christian king asked a Moslem cleric about how Islam could justify use of violence to further religious ends. But Pope Benedict received no reasoned answer, just threats of bodily harm for insulting Islam. Point made.

The threat to Christians in Africa, to Moslems of different sects in Southeast Asia, and increasingly to Europeans from Islamic jihad is not only derived from the teaching of a religion that aspires to be universal. It reveals itself in well-organized terror attacks, establishment of territorial domination under Islamic rule, and continuing disruption of civil society. In Egypt, for example, the Moslem brotherhood has wiped out a large part of the Coptic Church, and ISIS has virtually driven Christianity out of Iraq. Boko Haram maintains control over large areas of Africa where it terrorizes the Christian population.

When I try to see the world through the eyes of a leader whose first responsibility is to safeguard the wellbeing of his country’s citizens, I see that in comparison to the threat of Islamic jihad on a global scale, the threat of attacks by deranged killers who espouse racist beliefs is “not that large.” Based on the numbers, specificity, motivation and organization, the threat of white nationalism pales in significance compared to Islamic jihad.

Every taking of an innocent human life is gravely immoral, whether it be in the form of abortion, euthanasia, gang violence, drug wars, Islamic terrorism or racist ideology. Traditional moral teaching does not measure evil by comparing how many are killed – each intentional killing of an innocent is as evil as the total of such murders. President Trump never questioned this moral principle, and no matter what CNN says, he condemned the killings in New Zealand explicitly and forcefully.

The President has different responsibilities as the Commander-in Chief, at least in the eyes of those with a realist view of international affairs. He is responsible for the security and domestic tranquility of the United States, and must rank threats not morally but in order of the damage they are likely to do if left unchecked. Constructive thinking and disagreement with his priorities is legitimate and useful but knee-jerk condemnation of his every statement is not. When the President states priorities that have a legitimate factual basis, he deserves a logical and reasoned response from those who disagree, not the shrieks of offended children who had their safe spaces violated.

David Montgomery is retired from a career of teaching, government service and consulting, during which he became internationally recognized as an expert on energy, environmental and climate policy.  He has a PhD in economics from Harvard University and also studied economics at Cambridge University and theology at the Catholic University of America,   David and his wife Esther live in St Michaels, and he now spends his time in front of the computer writing about economic, political and religious topics and the rest of the day outdoors engaged in politically incorrect activities.

Letters to Editor

  1. J t Smith says

    David Montgomery’s recent provocation resonates with his usual blend of intelligence and complacency. He might want to consider whether any portion of Islamic extremism is the fruit of Western colonialism. And one must also acknowledge that in our lifetimes Western Christian leaders in Europe engaged in a form of White Nationalism that occasioned systematic genocide of millions. Also, the fact that the deranged shooter in New Zealand purportedly cited inspiration example of the President of the United States may be symptomatic of a real problem.

    • David Montgomery says

      Thank you, I think, for the partial compliment. I am far from complacent, my outrage and anxiety about the present and future are just directed at different issues. I suggest, quite seriously, that you read this analysis of the screed left by the killer, which I read after writing my column:


      He comes off as a very different breed of racist, and the reference to President Trump is placed in context as an odd aside in a rant that mentions no other interest in the President.

      On Nazism, I am led into some complacency by the consistently narrow appeal in the United States of extreme white nationalism that follows Hitler’s creed and its failure to attract any but an absolute fringe of maladjusted (and worse) individuals.

      On whether Islamic extremism is due to post-war U.S. foreign policy (which the realist school contends) or the current manifestation of a conflict of cultures that goes back 1400 years (which I favor), there are different and well-argued points of view. This is a debate that would be very much worth staging.

      • J.T. Smith says

        I don’t believe that our President is a racist or a white nationalist. My concern is that, as an act of political expedience, he encourages such people ( e.g. his both sides comment re Charlottesville). Also lamentable was his charade that we needed a ban on Muslim visitors and immigrants and that our Southern Border is an avenue for illegal entry by Islamic terrorists.
        As to the wellspring of radical Islam, I did not suggest it was post-war foreign policy of the West. Rather, I wondered whether it was, when directed at the us or our European allies, an artifact of Colonial occupation and exploitation of most of the Islamic world during two or three centuries before WWII. As to whether the Koran supports violent jihad, one may ask whether the Bible underpinned Crusades, Spanish exploitation of the Americas and their native populations, sectarian religious conflict among Christians, extending into century Ireland, and the near extinction of Native Americans by our forefathers. As to the deviation of Nazism, James Carroll in his fine book, The Sword of Constantine, argues forcefully that Holocaust differed in degree but not in kind from the whole history of Western Christianity.

  2. Robert Parker says

    Re: White Nationalism
    To the Editor: Let’s be clear, “White Nationalism” is now understood by essentially all to be synonymous with “White Supremacy” and racist. Mr. Trump’s failure to recognize White Nationalism as a threat is not surprising and is just another confirmation that he is an unrepentant racist. Weighing the atrocities perpetrated by radical islamists in Africa, the Middle East and Asia to those caused by White Supremacists world wide is a false comparison. Deaths at the hands of so-called White Nationalists represent a growing threat in the U.S. and elsewhere. To deny this is to give cover to racists of all stripes.

    • Marshall Brown says

      David Montgomery’s critics all seem to view the world through some type of neo-Marxist prism. It is unlikely they would be able to engage in any reasoned analysis of the President’s priorities. Blanket condemnation is easier.

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