Commentary: White Supremacy Is Like Manna to the Left

by Roger Kimball

 

Since the world has not heard enough about “white supremacy” lately, I thought I would say a few words about this neglected subject.

Please don’t turn up your nose and say “but ‘white supremacy’ is just a malignant fiction, a fantasy conjured up by the Left in order to beat up on conservatives, Trump supporters, etc.”

This is true. “White supremacy” is in this respect like “climate change”: a bugbear, a horror tale utterly without substance but scary – Oooo so scary! – nonetheless. In Through the Looking Glass, Alice scoffs when the White Queen tells her that she is more than 100 years old. “I can’t believe that!” says Alice.

“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

The whole “white supremacy” meme is a bit like that. The number of real, honest-to-goodness, card-carrying, union-affiliated “white supremacists” is vanishingly small. They could be crowded into a middle-school gymnasium in a small town with room left over for the cheerleaders and a popcorn machine. The idea that white supremacists or the ideology of white supremacism represent a threat to American society is preposterous. Everyone knows this, the pathetic commentators on CNN and MSNBC just as much as the gesticulating clowns running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Yet they keep screaming about “white supremacism,” hoping, I believe, that if they keep repeating the mantra, their incantation will bring the longed-for object into being.

A Religious Fervor

Indeed, it is one of the signal ironies of the campaign against the phantasm denominated “white supremacism” that the people shouting the loudest against it say they abominate everything about white supremacism – “racism,” Donald Trump, etc. – when, in fact, they crave its advent with a fervency that makes St. Theresa look blasé.

You see this every time there is a public act of violence. When the news breaks you can discern a sharp intake of breath on the part of the Confraternity of Leftist Pundits. “Please Comrade God,” you can almost hear them pray, “Please let the perpetrator be a pasty-faced, Trump-voting, Christian white guy.”

Usually, it isn’t. But every now and then their prayers are answered, as they were, sort of, just recently when some wacko who doesn’t like Mexicans murdered 22 people in El Paso. Central Casting is going to have a hard time making the chap in question out to be a “white supremacist,” however, since he was just a mix of nasty congeries of bizarre ideas. But at least he was white. So was the Dayton, Ohio, shooter, who murdered nine people, but he had the misfortune to be a registered Democrat and avid Elizabeth Warren supporter and espoused various left-wing causes, so the less said about him, the better.

Pop quiz: who is James T. Hodgkinson? Can you say without Google’s help? Stumped?

He was the fellow who, in 2017, went to a congressional Republican baseball practice and shot five people, including Steve Scalise, a congressman from Louisiana, who nearly died. You don’t hear much about Jimbo because he was an avid Bernie Bro and Trump-hater. Doesn’t fit the narrative, you see, so (if I may invoke Lewis Carroll again) he has been transformed into a Cheshire cat creature, disappearing bit by bit from the public record.

From Two-Minutes to an Endless Loop of Hate

Here’s another irony about the whole “white supremacist” wheeze. The politicians and their mascots in the commentariat keep screaming about “hate,” but it takes but a moment for anyone to see that the vast majority of hatred is emanating from the supposed opponents of “white supremacism.” So it is that ready-made presidential candidate impersonator “Beto” O’Rourke compares Donald Trump’s campaign events to Nazi rallies or Joaquin Castro, manager of his brother Julián’s presidential campaign, publishes the names of Trump donors and invites the public to harass them.

Readers of Nineteen Eighty-Four will remember the daily ritual in which the inhabitants Oceania are required to watch a film depicting the hated Emmanuel Goldstein, enemy of the state. In Orwell’s novel, the hate-fest was only two minutes long, whereas the supposed anti-white supremacist fanatics have their propaganda on an endless loop.

Back in May, PJ Media’s Sarah Hoyt put her finger on what the rallies against “white supremacism” are really all about when she noted that “We Don’t Have a Problem with White Supremacy. We Have a Problem with Leftist Supremacy.” Bingo. “The left is obsessed with white supremacists,” Hoyt observed, “the way that children are obsessed with Santa Claus, and for more or less the same reasons.” Santa doesn’t exist, but the presents pile up every December 25 because the right people have a stake in perpetuating the myth of his existence.

Another curious feature of the hysteria over the made-up tort of white supremacism is that its very frenetic quality, instead of highlighting its disingenuousness and absurdity, tends instead to function as a sort of camouflage. Parsing the psychological dynamics of this phenomenon would doubtless take us into deep waters – I’m not at all sure I can explain it – but the Freudians would probably explain in terms of the idea of projection: concealing one’s own unpalatable impulses from oneself by attributing them to another.

Perpetuating the Noxious Myth

There are two reasons that anti-Trump ideologues love the fairy tale of white supremacism. One revolves around the word “white.” Incessantly repeating “white” helps to create a semantic nimbus of racialism. You don’t even need to accuse anyone of particular impermissible acts. All you need to do is utter their names in conjunction with the phrase “white supremacist” and little flecks of racial suspicion adhere to them like iron filings coating a magnet.

Donald Trump is quite right when he denies being racist. He has taken many positions on many issues over his career, but never has he displayed any racist attitudes. (The same can be said, by the way, about the spurious charge that he is anti-Semitic.) But the charge of white supremacism is so precious to anti-Trump stalwarts because it enables them to inject the smudgy ink of racism into a discussion where it is totally out of place. As American society becomes ever less racist, any possible shards of racialist thinking are gathered up like manna for grateful consumption by those who have a stake in perpetuating the noxious myth that America is a uniquely racist society.

The unstable edifice of racial accusation can be kept upright only by constant pressure, like those inflatable toy castles at children’s birthday parties. Turn off the machine pumping in the air and the plaything collapses in upon itself.

The acolytes of white supremacy – by whom I mean not the relatively few who actually espouse it, but the great many who claim to have uncovered it everywhere – are right that the motor of their heart’s desire is hatred, but once again the hatred resides not in the objects of their obloquy but rather in themselves. In this respect, they are unconscious followers of the Roman poet Martial. “Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare / Hoc tantum possum dicere: non amo te.” My unauthorized translation:

I do not like thee, Donald Trump.
Don’t ask me why, you have me stumped.
But this I know, you awful frump:
I do not like thee, Donald Trump.

– – –

Roger Kimball is Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion and President and Publisher of Encounter Books. Mr. Kimball lectures widely and has appeared on national radio and television programs as well as the BBC. He is represented by Writers’ Representatives, who can provide details about booking him. Mr. Kimball’s latest book is The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine’s Press, 2012).
Photos “End White Supremacy Protestors” by Molly Adams CC2.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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