Politics

These Viral Images of a Racist Campaign Slogan Reveal the Truth About a Growing Movement in the U.S.

A campaign billboard in Tennessee drew national backlash due to the "Make America White Again" message it displayed—and started a conversation about racism and white supremacist movements in the United States.

The campaign for Rick Tyler, an Independent candidate for the state's 3rd Congressional District, put up the aforementioned billboard along the highway in Polk County. It was removed Tuesday night after public outcry, according to The Washington Post.

However the image that says "Make America White Again"—which the Post called 'a spin on Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again' slogan"—is still on Tyler's campaign website

"Make America White Again" slogan for Rick Tyler.

The website also features an image of the White House with confederate flags surrounding it. 

A drawing of Confederate flags on the White House.

A recent post on the campaign website outlines an ideology claiming that the Founding Fathers intended for white Americans to remain dominant. The website blamed immigration policies of the 1960s for turning the U.S. in to a "multi-racial society."

"With its implementation, there began a process whereby white, Christian America would slowly morph into a multi-racial, pluralistic cauldron of chaos and systematic disintegration," reads the post. 

Some Twitter users said that the messaging exposes racist undertones that were already in U.S. politics. 

Although the Post reported that the 58-year-old businessman won less than half a percentage point when he ran for Senate in 2014, Tyler's congressional run—and racist campaign slogan—taps into nostalgia for a time when white Americans dominated the country.

As ATTN: previously reported, white nationalists and Americans with white supremacist views have increased their presence on on social media in recent years. A September 2016 report from J.M. Berger with George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security found that white nationalists had more followers than the Islamic State. 

"On Twitter, ISIS’s preferred social platform, American white nationalist movements have seen their followers grow by more than 600% since 2012," wrote Berger. "Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day."

Overt racism in politics has become more bold since the 2016 election. 

ATTN: previously wrote about the dog whistle then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" made to working class white men, who feel they are losing their social status in the United States.

"'Build a wall' is shorthand for 'no more immigrants,' and 'renegotiate NAFTA' is shorthand for 'I'll protect your jobs,'" University of California, Los Angeles political science professor Joshua Foa Dienstag told ATTN: in August of 2016. "Then all the various racist noises are ways to signal 'I'm on your side.'"

Iowa's Rep. Steve King has used fear of declining white dominance to push an anti-immigration agenda, and he's also made predictions that attempt to pit black Americans and Latinos against each other. King tweeted in March that "we can't restore our society with somebody else's babies," a comment that suggests immigration would undermine a white American society. The tweet is also supportive of far-right Dutch candidate Geert Wilders who was convicted in the Netherlands of discrimination against Moroccans. 

Only days later, he made more controversial comments in response to Univision's Jorge Ramos statement that whites will be the minority in the coming decades. King predicted a race war if that happens. 

"When you start accentuating the differences, then you end up with people who are at each other's throats, and he's adding up Hispanics and blacks that he predicts will be in greater numbers than whites in America," King said on the radio station 1040 WHO. "I will predict that the Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens."

Shifting demographics.

As the U.S. becomes more diverse, white Americans who were previously dominant, and whose communities have lost manufacturing jobs and are plagued by the opioid crisis, are looking to retrieve what they perceive as lost social power. 

Robert P. Jones, the CEO of Public Religion Research Institute and the author of "The End of White Christian America," told ATTN: in November 2016, that white voters who continue to live in the towns where they grew up have a more heightened awareness to ethnic and economic changes in their neighborhoods.

"Because they can remember neighborhoods, churches, schools, and other institutions from their childhoods, they have more fixed markers from which to measure change, and they are more likely to have experienced a decline in their own cultural centrality and influence in the community as it has changed," he said. "So, for example, if they see the Baptist church from their childhood being converted to a Catholic church that holds mass in Spanish, that’s a pretty visible change."

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