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Afterword: White Nationalism, Trolling Humor as Propaganda, and the “Renaissance” of Christian Racism in the Age of Trump

  • Robert Hornback
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)

Abstract

The Afterword builds on the book’s argument that Renaissance nationalism was frequently proto-racist—a kind of Christian nationalism allied, paradoxically, to racist constructions of a pan-European whiteness—and, vice versa, that proto-racism was itself both “Christian” and part of pan-European nationalist movements. Inattention to this early formation of racism has obscured the legacy of this ideology, blinding us to the resurgence of the uncannily similar “white nationalism” that President Trump has exploited through nativist demagoguery and anti-politically correct humor aimed at minorities and immigrants. Jeering Trumpist laughter is Hobbesian, declaring supremacy over others, making it the clearest expression of white nationalism in America today. Trump’s tactics and message alike closely follow white nationalists’ use of “comedic packaging”—the alt-right meme culture of trolling, bullying, insults, digital blackface, and the vitriolic cartoons that act as a gateway drug to white nationalism. In white nationalism, Renaissance understandings of “nation” in terms of race and religion are prominent. Like early modern nativists, modern white nationalists construct nationality in ways consistent with early definitions of “nation” via Biblical senses of “the heathen nations, the Gentiles” (OED 2a) and “Birth, nativity; inborn nature or [moral] character” (OED 9). Metaphysically racist modern white nationalists remain opposed to what they perceive to be the influence of non-Gentile immigrant Strangers. Theirs is a European “identitarian” ideology that emphatically embraces Christendom, though not Christian behavior.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Hornback
    • 1
  1. 1.Oglethorpe UniversityAtlantaUSA

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