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WNRI radio host John Dionne identifies himself as a white nationalist on the air



“I would consider myself white nationalist,” said WNRI radio host John Dionne. “I consider white nationalist as somebody that’s proud of being American, proud of our country’s heritage. That’s what a nationalist is. Proud of America.”

John Dionne, who hosts a radio show every weekday on WNRI in Woonsocket, identified as a white nationalist on the radio Monday. Dionne is a former Woonsocket City Council President, director of human services and of public safety, and has been the “head” of 11 different civic organizations. In 2014 Dionne was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, and an athletic track has been named in his honor.

Dionne made his comments while talking about the second anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where white nationalists rallied and turned violent, resulting in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. At that time, President Donald Trump blamed the violence on both the white nationalists and the counter-protesters, saying that there were good people on both sides of the issue.

Dionne began his Charlottesville comments defending President Trump:

“I think on Charlottesville, what happened was, I can see, if you’re reading many of the comments, like at the end, there are some people yelling, chanting, ‘The Jews won’t replace us.’ You know, the problem you have with something like this is, let’s supposing I went to that rally, okay? And whatever side, I clearly would not want to take down Robert E Lee‘s statue, whether I’d fight about, I certainly would not.

“But if I’m standing – Let’s say I’m standing there, with my wife or I’m standing there with you, okay, and somebody next to us starts chanting that or says that – It doesn’t mean that we agree with the person, because we happen to be in the same group. We’re all there for different certain reasons. That’s wrong, okay?

“And I think that the President was trying to say, okay?”

Dionne then transitioned from a defense of the President to a declaration that he considers himself a white nationalist.

“The people that are defending – In the article they called them white nationalists. Well I would consider myself white nationalist. I consider white nationalist as somebody that’s proud of being American, proud of our country’s heritage. That’s what a nationalist is. Proud of America.”

Dionne then returned to his defense of the President, before taking a call:

“It doesn’t mean that I would fight and say some of the things that other people would be saying. I mean, it’s really something. Listen, he’s got a daughter and grandchildren that are Jewish. He’s not going to say that. That’s ridiculous, for crying out loud. That’s unbelievable. That these liberals, so out of – The progressives – I keep on using the word liberals – It’s not liberals. I consider myself somewhat liberal in many, many aspects, okay? A conservative liberal. [laughs] If you can understand that.”

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WNRI also employs John DePetro, a radio shock jock known for making outrageous comments on the air.

This story will be updated once I hear back from the station manager at WNRI.

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading.

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