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Donald Trump's favorite catchphrase 'America First' has dark ties to the Klu Klux Klan

Donald Trump's favorite catchphrase 'America First' has dark ties to the Klu Klux Klan

The President does not seem too concerned with the phrase's long, twisted, and tainted history which is peppered with pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist sentiments.

"We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First." This was the centerpiece of President Donald Trump's inauguration address in January 2017. The summation of his entire political and governing philosophy, it highlighted two words that have been front and center throughout his presidential campaigns: "America First." The President does not seem too concerned with the phrase's long, twisted, and tainted history which is peppered with pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist sentiments.



 

 

"It was a Republican campaign slogan in the 1880s, which means it appeared much earlier than most people think. But it didn’t become a national catchphrase until President Woodrow Wilson used it in 1915. He was using it to try to keep America out of the first World War. But he was kind of doing a tap dance because he wanted to placate the isolationists, although he was himself an internationalist," Behold, America author Sarah Churchwell explained to Vox. "But then the phrase gets taken up in the name of isolationism almost instantly, and it is quickly connected with other ideas that were also on the rise at the time, especially the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. It became linked to anti-immigration movements, and sympathizers of fascism, and was popularized by Charles Lindbergh."



 

 

According to the fact-checking website Snopes, Lindbergh—the famous American pilot who lead the 'America First Committee'—openly displayed pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic tendencies with his use of offensive stereotypes and assertions that Jews posed a threat to the US since they wielded supposed influence in motion pictures, radio, the press, and the government. "The undercurrents of anti-Semitism and bigotry that characterized the America First movement — including the assumption that Jews who opposed the movement had their own agenda and were not acting in America's best interest — is fortunately not a major concern today," said Jonathan A Greenblatt, ADL CEO.



 

 

"However, for many Americans, the term 'America First' will always be associated with and tainted by this history. In a political season that already has prompted a national conversation about civility and tolerance, choosing a call to action historically associated with incivility and intolerance seems ill-advised," he added, referring to Trump's repeated usage of the phrase. Meanwhile, as Churchwell mentioned, many Trump critics identify the notorious slogan with the infamous white supremacist hate group, Klu Klux Klan.



 

 

The phrase even appears in Klan literature as part of a longer credo, "America first, last, and forever," or it's variant "America first, last and always," as a KKK speaker was quoted saying in the Binghamton, New York Press and Sun-Bulletin in 1923. Another version of the slogan also appeared in an "Imperial Proclamation" submitted as evidence during a Congressional hearing on the Klan's activities in 1921 which said: "[The Klan] stands for America first—first in thought, first in affections, and first in the galaxy of nations. The Stars and Stripes forever above all other and every kind of government in the whole world."



 

 

"If you’re in an anti-immigrant and xenophobic debate, then 'America First' will kind of magnetically accrue those anti-immigrant sentiments. Put America first, native-born people first," said Churchwell. "It connects back to the nativism of the 1840s and 1850s, and it sounds broadly anti-immigrant. In a moment where people were very concerned about waves of immigration, which was a big motivating force for the KKK, it was only natural that America First would become a rallying cry for nativists and racists."



 

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