This dangerous meme in US politics is over a century old

“This incredible journey We’re just getting started together,” former president Donald Trump told a rally in Ohio on September 17. In response, the crowd greeted him with a gesture unfamiliar to most Americans: hands. Their right is raised with the index pointing up. When he continued, they still held up their fingers, nodding after him. When photos of crowds of people pointing fingers high went online, Twitterati reacted with predictable outrage and confusion; is this a QAnon icon? Some white supremacy code symbols, like Is that Okay? No, that’s not it. It is a symbol of the America First movement. This midterm election season, the “America First” candidates represent a powerful new bloc of far-right candidates, among them the GOP Senate candidate. JD Vancewhom Trump was in Ohio to start with, along with the likes of former QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Green, “Big Lie” proponent Paul Gossar and Blake Masters mentor Peter Thiel.

The strong brand of this energetic America First movement is thanks to Donald Trump, who promised to “put America first” at the earliest. 2015 in a selection for The Wall Street Journal, as it often does with internet influencers, mainly Nicholas J. Fuentes of reactionary Gen Z. But “America First” is a phrase that is more than a century old, making it one of the most enduring, prominent, and dangerous memes circulating in American politics today.

According to historian Sarah Churchwell, the use of “America First” dates back to the 1880s in the years following the Civil War. The nation was looking for a way to reinvent itself, and the “America First” and “American Dream” mottos were born. Churchwell argues that they have been entwined ever since.

“America First” continued to be mentioned in political articles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but its popularity increased each time the United States considered its involvement in wars. world war or not. In 1908 and again in the 1930s, William Randolph Hearst – who admired Nazism, believed it to be superior to liberal democracy – used it in his newspapers to promote ideas thought that America had nothing to do with Hitler. As tensions rose in Europe, a student at Yale University formed the First Committee of the Americas to promote American homeland security and an isolationist international agenda. Famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was the group’s most famous member and spokesman, and for nearly two years between 1940 and the U.S. entry into the war in December 1941, Lindbergh toured the country to give performances. theory and built America First groups throughout, eventually forming an estimated 450 chapters with 800,000 cumulative paying members.

This movement would collapse after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but after its attack it left not only the consequences of isolationists but also racist views. openly racist, anti-Semitic and fascist. “America First” became a rallying cry for white American superiority.

In the 21st century, America First has been reborn again – as a meme that has changed hands so many times that very few people know its provenance. On the first day of Trump’s presidency, he declared, “A new vision will govern our land. From this day on, it will just be America first. America above all. This phrase has been widely used in the Trumpian right by figures such as Alex Jones, Andrew Breitbart, and many others. But when it comes to Generation Z audiences, one influencer can be credited with turning America First into a meme war — Nicholas J. Fuentes.

Fuentes, who once described himself as both “incel” and “a devilishly handsome 17-year-old naughty with a gritty personality, a head full of hair and some balls,” began his career with a broadcasts on his high school television station. During his first semester at Boston University in 2016, he became known on campus for rallying in support of Trump’s anti-immigration policies and opposing the “multicultural movement in America.” . A ruthless debater, he rose to fame taking on the position of student union president of BU and a host of popular right-wing influencers on YouTube. When he landed his own show on the Right Side Broadcasting Network, he called it America first.

Fed up with “the great globalist lies concocted over the last 25 years,” Fuentes used his platform to attack politicians on all sides. He loathes established Republican leaders, who he considers “bad” compared to Donald Trump, the “George Washington of this century.” He was also dismayed by right-wing leaders whose violence had destroyed Right-wing Solidarity (which he attended) and subsequently undermined public perception of contemporary white nationalism. America. The aftermath from UTR has proven that clearly, even with Trump in office, mainstream America can still destroy you for its racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism.

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