In the Daily Beast, Asawin Suebsaeng reports on one heck of a white nationalist convention. The most intriguing guest: one Tila Tequila, known for reality-TV appearances and general scandalousness. Suebsaeng reminds that Tequila “has dabbled in casual anti-Semitism and pro-Nazi declarations over the years, to the point where she has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League.” (Yup.)
It’s not surprising that someone with an anti-Semitic past would pop up at a white supremacist gathering. What is surprising is this remark by Tila Tequila to the Daily Beast:
“‘And I think that’s why I’m also invited here because I bring a little bit more diversity to the movement.’”
Diversity. To the movement. The movement being white nationalism.
What does one do with this information? My first thought was that we can probably now stop wondering What It Means that Trump both embraces white supremacists and has Jewish family members. White supremacy not only lets in but parades token members of otherwise-hated groups. Tequila’s given name was Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen. She’s identified at various points as lesbian and bisexual, and had a famous relationship with a female socialite. She is, in other words, someone who’d be referred to on the left as a queer woman of color.
But I had a second thought, too! (It’s amazing what the female brain is capable of.) And it’s that we shouldn’t, when analogizing, assume that American ethno-nationalism, in 2016, would look like the early-mid-century European variety. The demographics are different, as — and this bit’s more recent — is the emphasis on facts. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the country where an actor born Carlos Irwin Estévez is a leading face of white male bigotry lands on a different definition of racial acceptability than did Nazi Germany. So maybe Tila Tequila is being feted on the alt-right because she suggests they’re not as racist as they… seem? claim to be? my head is spinning. Or maybe, if it’s convenient to the right people, she’s just white.
Phoebe Maltz Bovy edits the Sisterhood, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her book, The Perils of “Privilege”, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2017.
This story "Tila Tequila and ‘Diversity’ on the ‘Alt-Right’" was written by Phoebe Maltz Bovy.