Who’s a ‘White Nationalist’? Readers Weigh In

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
In northern Wisconsin recently: two deer, same species, different hues. Read on to learn what they have to do with the campaign. (Reader photo, with permission.)

Yesterday I mentioned a social-media analysis showing that 35 percent of active Trump supporters on Twitter (versus less than one-tenth of one percent of Clinton supporters) followed prominent “white nationalist” Twitter feeds, like @DrDavidDuke.

Now readers respond. First, what I’ll simply call a dissent, from a reader in South Carolina:

Your article on White Nationalists is disgusting and irresponsible and does not even rise to the level of journalism.

I am a Trump supporter and surprisingly NOT a Russian bot, a white nationalist, or an anti-Semite. I vote for Trump not because I think he’s a great politician, but because I cannot allow Hillary Clinton destroy America with her failed and deadly policies.

I vote for Trump to keep Hillary out. Plus, it is obvious to me and many others that Trump cares deeply about America as a country—Hillary cannot say the same.

Quit reducing patriotic Americans who cannot abide the thought of Hillary Clinton in the White House to ridiculous stereotypes. We are people who love America and do not wish to see it destroyed by her harmful policies. Disgraceful piece of work. I will no longer be reading the hate-mongering that goes on at The Atlantic.

Noted. After the jump, a different sort of response from a successful advanced-tech entrepreneur in the industrial Midwest who sent in the photo at the top of this item.


The reader in Wisconsin writes:

That something like “white supremacy” as conscious action would still exist is incredibly sad ...

But sometimes when I hear of “white nationalist” groups or other peculiar views of human diversity, I think about how strange it would be to have “brunette supremacists” or “green-eyed supremacists” or something equally ridiculous. How about “freckled nationalist”?  I feel particularly aggrieved by people born in July, so perhaps an “October supremacist” group would be an appropriate response.

This time when I read your latest post I couldn’t help thinking of a white deer I saw recently near a place in Wisconsin where we have a small log cabin in the woods. I felt really lucky to see her since I had heard of many sightings this summer nearby.

When I saw her, she froze in position as if I wouldn’t notice—like any other (color) deer would. The part I marvel at is that she seems entirely unaware she is white and easily visible!  

If only we could all be that way.

What I do love about this photo, as the reader suggests, is the obvious-once-you-point-it out unselfconsciousness of the white deer, who imagines that she is as camouflaged as the practically invisible one in the rear. This has larger implications about self-perception and real-vs-imagined differences, which I will leave to each reader to fill in.

Offered for the record as samples of opinion in this varied land, nine days before the election.