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America is white nationalism.

Now just hear me out, because I know some of you are ready to call me hyperbolic (while the rest of you are side-eyeing me and thinking, “no shit, bro. How wet is the water where you live?”), but there’s got to be a reason that, even in 2020, American officials can be so cavalier in their acceptance of white nationalist demonstration and why white supremacist groups use so much of the same symbolism as the average self-described patriot.

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For an example of that last part, in December, Washington Post reported that U.S. Army football team, the Black Knights, had to drop their slogan “God forgives, brothers don’t,” which appeared for years on a rally flag they carried into games, because it turned out that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas used the same idiom, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

As for an example of white nationalist demonstration being a-okay in America’s eyes (if the neo-Nazi attended gun rally held on the Virginia state capitol on MLK Jr. Day wasn’t enough), look no further than Washington D.C. where a group of white masked white nationalists, who have the word “patriot” right there in their name, got a police escort as they marched through Washington’s National Mall on Saturday.

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According to Business Insider, more than 100 members of the Patriot Front dressed in uniform (their uniform being khaki pants and caps, blue jackets and white face masks which means, sans tiki torches, the masks are the only item distinguishing them from literally every middle-aged white man in the country) and marched through the mall shouting “Reclaim America!” and “Life, liberty, victory!”

From Business Insider:

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Patriot Front as a white nationalist group that broke off from a similar organization, Vanguard America, in the aftermath of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

At that rally, self-described neo Nazi James Fields drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump drew criticism from his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats for saying that “both sides” were to blame for the deadly 2017 incident.

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But, see, that’s the thing: when you think about it, it really isn’t all that inconceivable that an American president — even one not named Donald “Make America Great Again by Keeping Those Pesky Mexicans and Muslims Out” Trump — would stay neutral in a battle between white nationalists and progressive Americans and say that “both sides” shared blame even though only one side are racist white supremacists who actually killed somebody. Those groups are simply far too American for America to disavow so easily.

Police say that the Patriot Front’s march transpired without incident or arrests. Because there were no signs of counter protests, outside of a few hecklers, the march is being described as peaceful. But, for people of color in this country, no demonstration lead by a white supremacist group is peaceful. Not when their aim is to “reclaim America” (which for POC tends to read, “reclaim America for white people) and not while the threat of white nationalist terrorism continues to darken America’s doorstep. I mean, there’s a reason the FBI recently elevated “racial extremists” to “national threat priority.”

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It’s also worth mentioning that it’s unclear whether or not Patriot Front had a permit for their march as a spokeswoman for District of Columbia Metropolitan Police said it had no record of a permit for it. Of course that same spokeswoman also mentioned that the “First Amendment demonstration was peaceful with no incidents or arrests.”

Still, hard to imagine a permit-less Black Lives Matter rally or a Black Panther or Islamic group’s march getting the same accommodations, let alone being legitimized under the guise of “first amendment demonstration.”

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But, then again, those groups don’t fit the American aesthetic quite the same, do they?

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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