US Senator Tommy Tuberville changes course in ‘white nationalism’
As a result of his earlier comments, a US senator has acknowledged that “white nationalists are racists”.
During an interview with CNN this week, Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberville said it was “some people’s opinion” that white nationalists are racist.
Both sides of the US political spectrum condemned that statement.
Mr Tuberville has repeatedly declined to label white nationalists racist in recent media interviews.
Organizers that track extremist groups in the US define white nationalism as an ideology that seeks to create an ethnic state centered around white identity.
“To me, a white nationalist, if that’s what you want to call them, is an American,” Tuberville told CNN on Monday.
In addition, he said white nationalists “have different beliefs, but racism is not one of them.”
In May, the lawmaker told Alabama’s WBHM radio station that efforts to root out “white extremists” and “white nationalists” in the military were politically motivated.
Mr Tuberville responded to criticism afterwards by saying: “Democrats portray all Trump supporters as white nationalists.”
The senator appeared to backtrack on his earlier remarks on Tuesday, saying that “white nationalists are racists” in a Capitol Hill hallway.
In addition to not elaborating on his remark, he did not speak about his previous remarks.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers condemned Mr Tuberville’s comments as inappropriate and called for him to apologize.
Senator Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, told reporters that white supremacist ideologies are “absolutely unacceptable” in the military.
“White nationalism is not a matter of opinion,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat.
White nationalism, according to the New York senator, is rooted in racism.
In protest against a Pentagon policy that offers travel allowances and time off to military personnel who want abortions, Tuberville, a former college football coach, has also been heavily criticized for holding up the nominations of more than 200 top military appointments.
Despite the protest’s failure, he has vowed to continue it.