Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Monday refused to walk back statements he recently made defining white nationalists as nothing more than your average patriotic “Americans.”
During an interview on CNN, the senator repeatedly insisted that white nationalism is not a form of racism, telling newly-minted anchor Kaitlan Collins that stating otherwise is simply “some people’s opinion.”
On the first episode of her new primetime show, Collins pressed Tuberville on whether he believes white nationalists should be able to serve in the U.S. military, harkening back to comments he made this spring downplaying the racist ideology.
“If people think that a white nationalist is racist, I agree with that,” Tuberville said.
“A white nationalist is someone who believes that the white race is superior to other races,” Collins replied.
“Well that’s some people’s opinion,” Tuberville pushed back.
“It’s not an opinion,” she interjected. “What’s your opinion?”
“My opinion of a white nationalist — if somebody wants to call them a white nationalist — to me, is an American. It’s an American,” he said. “Now, if that white nationalist is a racist, I’m totally against anything that they want to do, because I am 110% against racism.”
He then went on a long rant about how “identity politics” is ruining the country and “Democrats ought to be ashamed” of it.
Collins, once again, pushed back saying her question wasn’t about identity politics.
“It is identity politics,” he argued. He then added, “If you’re going to do away with most white people in this country out of the military, we got huge problems.”
Collins tried to explain that people aren’t advocating for booting “people who are white” from the military, but simply questioning whether avowed white nationalists should be allowed to serve.
Tuberville then responded that they were simply people with “different beliefs.”
“Now, if racism is one of those beliefs, I’m totally against it,” he added. “I am totally against racism.”
Collins once again stated that a white nationalist is racist.
“Well, that’s your opinion. That’s your opinion,” Tuberville said. “If it’s racism, I’m totally against it.”
This isn’t the first time the Alabama Republican made similar comments. In fact, Collins’ question was a follow up to a disturbing comment the senator made in May to a public radio station in Birmingham.
During the radio interview, Tuberville was asked whether white nationalists should be allowed to serve in the military.
“They call them that. I call them Americans,” Tuberville responded.
His comments quickly received staunch criticism and condemnation, which led him to tell reporters that his comments had been misconstrued.
But when given a second chance by Collins to elaborate, Tuberville still insisted there is a difference between a white nationalist and a racist.