Rod Dreher says the left “summoned the demon” of white supremacy. That’s classic blame-the-victim. (More)
The Squirrel asked for an extra morning off so your lowly mail room clerk looked in the mail bag….
Dear Ms. Crissie,
Charlottesville is the kind of America that identity politics is calling into being. It’s time for straight talk about that.
On the Right, the story is fairly straightforward. Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and their ilk have to be condemned in no uncertain terms, and marginalized. The president’s coy rhetoric, dancing around these people for fear of alienating them, has to end.[…]
Today, I am aware of young white men who attend comfortable middle-class churches, but who identify as white nationalists. I doubt very much their parents or their pastors know. But it’s happening. These aren’t young men who have been downtrodden by society; that would at least give some sort of social and economic rationale for their race radicalism. These are relatively privileged young men. Why do they find no anchor in the church? Why is the god of racial nationalism more appealing to them than the God of the Bible?
Finally, we on the Right have to start speaking out without fear against identity politics – and calling out people on the Left, especially those within institutions, for practicing it. The alt-right has correctly identified a hypocritical double standard in American culture. It’s one that allows liberals and their favored minority groups to practice toxic identity politics – on campus, in the media, in corporate America, on the streets — while denying the possibility to whites and males. By speaking out against left-wing identity politics, and by explaining, over and over, why identity politics are wrong and destructive, conservatives strengthen their position in chastising white nationalists on the Right.
But none of this will matter at all as long as the Left refuses to oppose identity politics in its own ranks. As I keep saying here, you cannot have an identity politics of the Left without calling up the same thing on the Right. Left-liberals who want conservatives to stigmatize and denounce white nationalism, but conservatives who do so will be sneered at by white nationalists as dupes and fools who advocate disarmament in the face of racist, sexist forces of the Left.
When the Left indulges in rhetoric that demonizes whites – especially white males – it summons the demons of white nationalism.
Rod in LA
We agree that it’s time for “straight talk” about identity politics. Alas, your attempt fails miserably. In framing white supremacy as a supernatural force that possesses white men – “summoning the demon” – you ignore the centuries-long history of white identity politics in the U.S. As we replied in a comment at your article, with some additions:
Slavery and the 3/5ths compromise, the Fugitive Slave Act, the Trail of Tears, and the Missouri Compromise were white identity politics.
The segregation manifestos of Confederate states, declaring their right to enslave black people, were white identity politics.
Plessy v. Ferguson’s “separate but equal” infamy was white identity politics.
The U.S. Military Academy’s and Harvard College’s refusals to admit black students until 1870, and many state universities’ refusal to admit black students for almost another century, were white identity politics.
The Ku Klux Klan, the 1898 Wilmington Coup, and the “Whites Only” signs of Jim Crow were white identity politics.
The Lost Cause myth, embodied in Death of a Nation and Gone with the Wind, were white identity politics.
The segregation of the U.S. military, which ended only over howls against “using the military for social experimentation,” was white identity politics.
The segregation academies of the 1950s-1970s, and the birth of the Religious Right in objection to President Carter’s closing off their tax exemptions, were white identity politics.
The murders of civil rights activists, and white police and prosecutors’ refusal to investigate and charge the killers until decades later, were white identity politics.
Bull Connor’s fire hoses and the beating of John Lewis on the bridge in Selma were white identity politics.
Objections that a social safety net can’t work in the U.S. because, unlike Europe, the U.S. “has too many minorities” were and still are white identity politics.
Richard Nixon’s ‘Southern Strategy’ was white identity politics.
The “war on drugs” that specifically targeted and still targets young black men for arrest and imprisonment, was and still is white identity politics.
Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” and “young bucks” were white identity politics.
An all-white jury acquitting five white LAPD officers of beating Rodney King was white identity politics.
New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies and Joe Arpaio’s racial profiling were white identity politics.
Sarah Palin’s “Real America” of rural, white communities was white identity politics.
Rush Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro” and “Moochele” remarks were white identity politics.
The “birther” movement, the assault on ACORN, the persistent, repeatedly-debunked myths about New Black Panther voter intimidation and the knock-out game were white identity politics.
Steve King’s claim that “For [every one immigrant] who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there who weigh a hundred and thirty pounds—and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling seventy-five pounds of marijuana across the desert” was white identity politics.
The conservative love-fest for George Zimmerman and smearing of Trayvon Martin a “thug” and would-be rapist, the Ferguson D.A. concealing the admissions of Darren Wilson and smearing of Michael Brown as “a monster,” and the right-wing transformation of 12-year-old Tamir Rice into a 6’2″, 250-pound “menace” were white identity politics.
Claims that the Confederate Flag and public monuments to men who committed treason are about “heritage, not hate” are white identity politics.
And yes, howls about “illegal immigrants taking over our country” and “we need to preserve our culture,” breathless warnings of “sharia law” and “a taco truck on every corner,” the God-King refusing to condemn the bombing of a mosque in Rochester, MN because “it might have been Muslims,” and the NRA refusing to defend the Second Amendment rights of Philando Castile because “he had marijuana in his system” … these too are white identity politics.
White identity politics is not a supernatural force that has seized the minds of vulnerable young white men. It is not some “demon” that was “summoned” by women and people of color demanding an equal place among “We the People.” White identity politics has been a constant theme through our nation’s history. It seems recent only because, for most of that history, white men called it simply “politics.”
We further note that your blaming the left for white supremacy and violence is an old and pernicious anthem. White supremacists in the civil rights era insisted that “our blacks were happy until agitators stirred them up” and claimed that lynchings, cross-burnings, and church bombings were merely “white people standing up for themselves.” Indeed that refrain is as old as abusive men insisting they had to hit their wives because “she wouldn’t shut up.”
We conclude that your call for “straight talk” about “identity politics” is nothing more than a demand that women and people of color sit down, shut up, and accept white male supremacy … or face the consequences.
Photo Credit: The Agora Institute (YouTube)