Before his 2017 special election to the Senate in Alabama, in which he defeated accused child molester Roy Moore, Doug Jones was best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klan members who bombed Birmingham’s 16th Baptist Church in 1963, killing four girls. On Sunday morning, Jones offered harsh words for his successor, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, for spending the past week playing footsie with white nationalism. 

In an interview last Monday with a public radio station in Birmingham, Tuberville, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, was asked whether he believed “white nationalists” should be able to serve in the military. The Biden administration has made countering extremism in the military a major domestic priority in the wake of the January 6 attack; nearly one in five rioters who have been charged are military veterans. “They call them that,” Tuberville replied, referring to the Biden administration’s criticism of white nationalists. “I call them Americans.”

“He has this history of saying these things,” Jones said during a Sunday morning appearance on MSNBC. “This is a man who when he was running for Senate did not even know what the Voting Rights Act was.” Jones was referencing a moment during the 2020 campaign in which Tuberville was asked about expanding the Voting Rights Act and struggled to explain the basic contents of the law. 

Tuberville’s office attempted to clarify the comments on Wednesday, telling Alabama-based news outlet AL.com that Tuberville was being “skeptical of the notion that there are white nationalists in the military, not that he believes they should be in the military.” Speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Tuberville said, “There’s a lot of good people that are Trump supporters that for some reason my Democratic colleagues want to portray as white nationalists. That’s not true.”

Jones counted himself skeptical of Tuberville’s attempt to walk back his comments: “It’s hard to get someone to walk back and clarify when they really have no clue what they’re talking about,” he said Sunday morning. Jones added that white nationalism “has been on the country’s radar” since the deadly Charlottesville march in 2017. Numerous reports have demonstrated that the U.S. military struggles with a white nationalism problem. 

Tuberville’s remarks last week were also criticized by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who called them “utterly revolting” on Thursday. “I cannot believe this needs to be said, but white nationalism has no place in our armed forces and no place in any corner of American society, period, full stop, end of story,” Schumer said

On Saturday afternoon, Jones quote-tweeted a video of the white supremacist gang Patriot Front marching toward the U.S. Capitol building: “I damn sure hope they haven’t been listening to Tuberville and going to try and enlist!”


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