Left-wing academic Noam Chomsky says President Trump is not a “nationalist” because Trump doesn’t care enough about his own nation, regardless of Trump’s controversial embrace of the term this week.
Chomsky told the Washington Examiner the term is used in “all sorts of ways.” But while the term has been used to describe world leaders such as Adolf Hitler, the linguist and social analyst said he’s less concerned about that connotation and more irked by the falsity of Trump’s claim.
“I do object to the term for different reasons,” he said. “A nationalist is someone who is concerned for the state of the nation, which is far from true in Trump’s case.”
Trump called himself a nationalist on a Texas campaign stage Monday and repeated the assertion Tuesday, dusting off a term commonly used for the socially repressive, war-starting Axis governments in World War II.
“I’m proud of our country, and I am a nationalist,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “We have to take care of our country. We cannot continue to allow ourselves to be duped on military and also duped on trade.”
Chomsky, the 89-year-old advocate of libertarian socialism, has criticized Trump’s policies and temperament, calling him an “ignorant, thin-skinned megalomaniac.” But he also rebuked anti-fascism activists for lacking respect for free speech and inadvertently being “ a major gift to the Right.”
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor emeritus, who teaches part time at the University of Arizona, isn’t the first commentator to scoff at Trump’s new self-identifier. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said during a CNN appearance on Wednesday that “he’s not a nationalist.”
“He’s saying that he’s a nationalist because he wants you to be upset about it, but he’s really not a nationalist,” Scaramucci said.
John Bachtell, chairman of the Communist Party USA, said that he is concerned about Trump’s “ominous” rebranding, however, saying it’s part of “a dangerous mix and the stuff of fascism.”
“Trump is telling his base: America is the victim and under seize from foreigners of color,” Bachtell told the Washington Examiner. “His attacks are replete with lies, fear and scapegoating. He declares himself a nationalist fighting globalists, a term loaded with anti-Semitism.”
“Trump’s use of the term is ominous when connected to his other politics: authoritarianism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-communism. The content is white, Christian nationalism,” said the Communist leader, who endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton against Trump in the 2016 election.