Tag Archives: white nationalism

White Panic

Charles Blow is one of the columnists for the New York Times whose essays I almost always find thoughtful and perceptive. In this one, especially, he hits the proverbial nail on the head.

Every so often it’s important to step back from the freak show of the moment so that you can see the whole circle. That has never been more important than at this moment and under this administration.

Everything that has happened during recent years is all about one thing: fear by white people that they will inevitably lose their numerical advantage in this country; and with that loss comes an alteration of American culture and shifting of American power away from white dominance and white control. White people don’t want to become one of many minority groups in America and have others — possibly from Asia, Latin America, Africa or the Middle East — holding the reins of power, and dictating inclusion and equity.

Once you see White Panic as the root of Trumpism, so many other things become clear: the imperviousness of Trump supporters to evidence of the harm he’s doing, the hypocrisy of “Christian” support for a man who has admitted to violating the values they purport to hold, the utter lack of concern for the humanitarian tragedy at the border…

Blow identifies the thread that connects so many of the issues that we’ve been confronting:

This is manifested in every issue you can imagine: the Confederate monuments fight, opposition to Black Lives Matter, intransigence on gun control, voter suppression laws, the Muslim ban, the hard line on asylum seekers coming across the southern border, calls to abolish the visa lottery, the defaming of majority black countries, efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the addition of a census question that could cause an undercount of Hispanics, the stacking of the courts with far-right judges (the vast majority of whom are white men). You name it, each issue is laced the white panic about displacement.

I have previously posted about the Cato report documenting the percentage of terrorist attacks attributable to White Nationalists; Blow references similar testimony by  the assistant director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division. Of the 850 domestic terrorism investigations currently underway, he testified that 40 percent involve perpetrators with racist ideologies.  A significant majority are self-identified White Nationalists or White Supremacists.

Just as Trump saw fine people among the Nazis in Charlottesville, he is unable to see — or more precisely, to admit and address — white nationalism and white supremacy because he is at this moment these causes’ greatest champion.

The loyal MAGA-hat wearers may tell themselves that they differ from the violent fringe, that they aren’t like the David Dukes and other “out” Neo-Nazis, but their motives aren’t all that dissimilar.

The violent white nationalists are simply the leading edge, the violent vanguard, of the teeming masses of “soft” white nationalists and white supremacists, those who use stigmas and statutes as their weapons, those who have convinced themselves that their motivations have nothing to do with American racism and everything to do with American culture.

Blow connects some important dots. As he notes, in this “iteration of America,” securing white power and delaying displacement is to be achieved “through a fundamental restructuring of the laws around which babies get born, which addictions get treated, which bodies are allowed to immigrate or seek asylum and whose voice and votes get counted.”

Did you wonder why White Supremacists cheered the news about Alabama’s draconian anti-abortion law?

As the racist Iowa congressman, Steve King, tweetedin March of 2017, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

The proposed census changes have a similar goal: If you’re losing in the game of numbers, change the way you count.

As NPR reported on Tuesday:

“Challenges threatening the upcoming 2020 census could put more than four million people at risk of being undercounted in next year’s national head count, according to new projections by the Urban Institute. The nonpartisan think tank found that the danger of an inaccurate census could hit some of the country’s most difficult to count populations the hardest. Based on the institute’s analysis, the 2020 census could lead to the worst undercount of black and Latino and Latina people in the U.S. since 1990.”

Don’t just grouse over each individual fruit of the poison tree, also focus on the root.

Right now, America is facing a moral challenge every bit as profound as the country’s earlier conflict over slavery.

Will we live up to our professed values, or–like the “Christians” who have discarded their theology in order to protect their privilege–will we elevate loyalty to our tribes over adherence to our ostensible principles?

Sending A (Hateful) Message

The New York Times recently reported on yet another outrage perpetrated by our persistently outrageous administration; the refusal to sign on to a global “call to action” addressing online hate. The call to action came in the aftermath of the horrific slaughter of worshippers in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The White House on Wednesday announced it would not sign the Christchurch call to action, an informal international pact among France’s and New Zealand’s leaders and social media platforms to combat online extremism.

The call to actionis a broad statement of intent, rather than a detailed policy proposal. It urges nations and private tech companies to address terrorist content online. Specifically it urges signers to “ensure its efficient and fast removal and to prevent the use of live-streaming as a tool for broadcasting terrorist attack.” The White House refused to sign the accord on the ground that it violated constitutional free-speech protections.

Anyone who believes that this administration gives a rat’s patootie about freedom of speech should check into a mental hospital without delay.

Of course, in its announcement that the U.S. would not be signing on, the nature of those Free Speech “concerns” was not addressed. Nor could they be, since the “Call” wasn’t a legal decree. It was and is merely a non-binding pledge, lacking any provisions for enforcement or even suggestions for regulations. It was– and is–simply an official acknowledgment of a growing problem that has been exacerbated by the total lack of internet regulation. As the Times article pointed out,

Without legally binding mechanisms or strict policy enforcements, the stakes of signing are low. So the act of not signing sends a strong message and cheapens the free-speech protections the administration claims to hold dear, using the First Amendment as a political tool and an excuse for inaction.

Trump’s sudden solicitude for the First Amendment reminded me of Nat Hentoff’s 1992 book, “Free Speech for Me but Not for Thee.”

The administration’s trepidation at intervening in the content moderation processes of social media platforms is also wildly inconsistent with the president’s own behavior on tech-platform oversight. For months, Mr. Trump has used his Twitter feed to rail against perceived social media censorship of conservatives and threatened to intervene.

Last August, he accused Googleof “suppressing” conservative voices and “hiding information and news that is good” about him after seeing an infographic on cable news from a “not scientific” study. In April, the president met with Twitter’s C.E.O., Jack Dorsey, where he derailed a conversation on public health to complain about losing followers of his personal Twitter account. Mr. Trump hinted at intervening in tech-platform moderation as recently as this month after Facebook banned a number of pro-Trump media figures for “extremism.” His response on Twitter: “We are monitoring and watching, closely!!”

As if to make its priorities regarding online freedom even clearer, just hours after declining to sign the Christchurch call, the White House announced an online tool for reporting tech-platform bias. “No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump,” it said.

Trump’a free-speech solicitude is limited to right-wingers and racists.

If there was ever any doubt that Trump’s appeal has always been grounded in bigotry, misogyny and white nationalism, we can add his refusal to sign the “Call” to the mountain of evidence that already exists.

There is a reason David Duke and his ilk claim Trump as one of their own.  For confirmation, you need only read the report in the most recent issue of the Atlantic: “An oral history of Donald Trump’s Bigotry.” It’s a devastating”in his own words” documentation of the life-long bigotry of a man whose only claim to superiority is dependent upon inherited money and skin color.

Thanks to our antiquated and undemocratic Electoral College, we are saddled with a President who repeatedly tells the world that America is now on the side of hatred and white nationalism. Trump’s “Muslim ban,” his ridiculous “wall,” his administration’s appallingly inhumane treatment of would-be refugees at our southern (but not our northern) border, his defense of the “very fine” people among the Charlottesville neo-Nazis, his disdain for “shithole” countries, his move to deny transgender individuals the right to serve in the armed forces….the examples go on and on.

In 2020, if the electorate doesn’t massively repudiate this repulsive, reptilian man and his nest of vipers and idiots, we are no longer the (imperfect but aspirational)  America so many of us thought we were.

The 2020 election will also send a message–it will tell us just what percentage of our neighbors share Trump’s ignorant and hateful attitudes– just how many are willing to vote for a sub-human incompetent because he hates and fears the same people they do.

 

This Is Scary

Speaking of collusion…

CommonDreams recently reported on evidence of “explosive” and “extraordinary” coordination between a controversial Madrid campaign group and far-right parties across Europe.

A controversial Madrid-based campaign group, supported by American and Russian ultra-conservatives, is working across Europe to drive voters towards far-right parties in next month’s European Parliament elections and in Spain’s national elections this Sunday, openDemocracy can reveal today.

Our findings have caused alarm among lawmakers who fear that Trump-linked conservatives are working with European allies to import a controversial US-style ‘Super PAC’ model of political campaigning to Europe – opening the door to large amounts of ‘dark money’ flowing unchecked into elections and referenda.

The Madrid-based campaign group CitizenGo is best known for its online petitions against same-sex marriage, sex educationand abortion– and for driving buses across cities with slogans against LGBT rights and “feminazis”.

But now openDemocracy can reveal new evidence of “extraordinary coordination” between this group and far-right parties across Europe – from Spain to Italy, Germany and Hungary.

Former United States Senator Russ Feingold, who worked with John McCain to reform political finance in the U.S., described the report’s findings as “frightening” and called on European leaders to protect the democratic process.

“Europe has an opportunity to get ahead of this and not make the same mistakes that were made here in the United States.”

During the past few years, there has been explosive growth of far-right–essentially fascist–parties here in the U.S. and in Europe.  Spain is just one example:

The Spanish far-right party Vox has pledged to build walls around Spanish enclaves in North Africa, jail Catalan independence leaders, loosen gun control laws and “make Spain great again”. The party also opposes “political correctness”, marriage equality for gay people and laws against gender-based violence.

Sound familiar?

The cited article goes into considerable detail about the global links among far right groups and the sources of their financing, but what is truly chilling is the extent of this movement and the fears that motivate its supporters.

We’ve been here before. Change can be terrifying to those who believe that their positions are being threatened. And societies today–especially western, democratic societies–are facing enormous changes.

Technology is rapidly transforming economies, and automation is threatening millions of jobs. Previously marginalized populations–women, LGBTQ citizens, African-Americans, immigrants–are demanding an equal place at the civic table. Longstanding traditions are under assault from a variety of directions–from the arts, from globalization, from liberal religions, and from growing secularization.

People–okay, mostly straight white Christian males– fear the loss of their traditional dominance ; they experience these changes as existentially threatening. That isn’t new. What is new is the ability–courtesy of the Internet– to connect with others around the world who share their fears.

Meanwhile, the rhetoric coming from Trump and his white nationalist ilk gives them permission to be far more candid about their bigotries. (You might even say that the bigots are leaving their closets and “coming out.”)

White nationalism appeals to people who are fundamentally insecure–who believe, deep down, that they can’t compete in the world that is dawning, that shorn of their traditional privilege they will be insignificant.

The problem is, that fear is powerfully motivating.

People of good will who are willing–even eager– to live in our evolving world cannot afford complacency. There’s a quote by someone whose name I’ve long forgotten, to the effect that a rattlesnake, if cornered will become so angry it will bite itself. That, of course, is exactly what happens to these people who are consumed with hate and resentment against the Other — they are biting themselves.

But the rest of us are collateral damage.

Chilling Confirmation

It sometimes seems redundant to pick on Fox News. Its function as a propaganda arm of the GOP–as the Tass of the Trump Administration–is widely recognized among Americans who aren’t part of its brainwashed audience.

The problem is, Fox is more than “merely” a partisan propaganda site. Shrugging off its bias as comparable to the liberal perspective of, say, MSNBC ignores its role in normalizing bigotry and white nationalism,  a role that makes it a far more serious and dangerous influence on American life and values than other partisan media.

A recent report in the Guardian highlighted that under-appreciated aspect of the harm done by the network. 

Eboni Williams, who co-hosted the show Fox News Specialists, says Roger Ailes founded network on fear of ‘devaluation of whiteness’

A former Fox Newshost said the network was founded for the sole purpose of “demonizing ‘the other’”.

Eboni Williams tore into her former network in an appearance on Thursday on The Breakfast Club, a nationally syndicated radio show out of New York.

“Fox has a reputation for being bigoted and racist – all for a very good reason,” she said.

Williams said the key to understanding Fox’s approach was to understand its founder, Roger Ailes, who laid out his strategy clearly in his book.

“This man very plainly, in plain sight, says that he is forming a network to speak to one thing and one thing only: the demonizing of the other,” Williams said.

Eboni is an attorney-turned-commenter who is quoted in the article as saying she had taken the job at Fox despite strong disagreement with what she saw as its conservative political agenda, because she believed she would be able to offer the network’s viewers a different perspective.

“I went there because I felt I was going to be a savior of sorts and talk to the people in the middle that still watch that network, because whether we like it or not, Fox is number one for a reason,” she said.

When she criticized Trump’s response to the Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, however, she got death threats. Clearly, she wasn’t getting through to the network’s audience.

” When I said it plain like I said it on that docket that day about Trump, the audience could no longer hear me. Thus I’m no longer being able to be any kind of effective. Thus it’s time for me to move on.”

Lest we attribute Williams’ reaction to the fact that she is black–someone who might be more “sensitive” to racial attitudes– an even more recent story, this time from the Daily Beast, should disabuse us of that excuse.

A Fox News reporter on Thursday called out two of his colleagues for sounding “like a White Supremacist chat room” when they attempted to defend President Trump’s infamous “both sides” comment about white supremacists in Charlottesville, according to internal emails reviewed by The Daily Beast.

The email discussion was triggered by Joe Biden’s announcement that he was entering the Presidential race; in that announcement, he alluded to Trump’s Charlottesville remarks. A Fox reporter named McKelway responded by sending an email to dozens of the network’s employees, saying he was “fact-checking” Biden, and  claiming that the marchers were simply protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.

It wasn’t his first attempt at disinformation.

Prior to the 2016 election, McKelway defended the alt-right on Fox News, claiming it was simply “using the same tactics that the left has used for generations now.” He further asserted that the alt-right is “much more than” an anti-Semitic, white-nationalist movement, citing Milo Yiannopoulos for his efforts in combating “the left’s obsession with… safe spaces.”

And a year before that, McKelway compared the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s statehouse to the Soviet practice of airbrushing purged dissidents out of official photographs.

I no longer wonder why certain people choose to get their “news” from Fox.

They are the network’s target audience: people who fear “devaluation of whiteness”– less politely but more accurately identified as racists.

Domestic Terrorists? What Domestic Terrorists?

One of the biggest problems facing sane Americans living through the Trump disaster is that the President’s bizarre behaviors continue to suck all the oxygen out of the room–the one thing he is demonstrably good at is grabbing media attention. As a result, we can easily miss the day-to-day mayhem being wreaked on the federal government, and the persistent undermining of that government’s capacity to discharge its responsibilities.

It’s like a roof leak that goes undiscovered until the damage causes your ceiling to collapse.

Not long ago, I came across this particular leak in America’s roof.

With the frequency of domestic terrorism rising, Trump has apparently decided that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t need its primary intelligence unit that investigates and analyzes that problem and has disbanded it. Virtually all domestic terrorism in recent years has been committed by right-wing extremists.

The Department of Homeland Security has disbanded a group of intelligence analysts who focused on domestic terrorism, The Daily Beast has learned. Numerous current and former DHS officials say they find the development concerning, as the threat of homegrown terrorism—including white supremacist terrorism—is growing.

There have been a growing number of articles focused upon the growing threat posed by white nationalists, and reports have documented that rightwing extremists have been responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in the U.S.

According to Bloomberg,

Right-wing extremist violence is a major domestic threat. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s database, it has accounted for about 73 percent of terrorist-related murders in the U.S. in the last 10 years.

 An article in the New York Times in the wake of the New Zealand mosque attack traced the connections between white supremacists  around the globe, and the growth of their movement.

Given the reality of the threat, and the obvious need to confront it, why would the Trump administration disband the effort to understand and contain these dangerous radicals?  Why is Trump so unwilling to call them out, even in the wake of horrific attacks? Why does he encourage them by minimizing the harm done by white supremacists and focusing instead on Muslims?

I think we all know–or can guess– the answers to those questions.

Let’s face it; these particular terrorists are a significant–and clearly welcome– part of Trump’s base. They are also increasingly open about the connection: Recently, a couple sporting both swastikas and a MAGA hat were spotted taking photos in front of a Holocaust Memorial in Rhode Island.

Even more troubling, large numbers of neo-Nazis and other White Supremacists–who already have several apologists among the Republican members of Congress–are running for office.

According to an article in Vox,

In 2018, an astonishing number of self-described white nationalists (including a former president of the American Nazi Party) ran for local, state, and national office in states from California to North Carolina — with the vast majority running as Republicans.

Most who candidly described themselves as Nazis or neo-Nazis lost–but several candidates with ties to white nationalists, including but not limited to Steve King (R-IA) and Matt Gaetz, won their races. A number of avowed white supremacists have declared their intent to take over the GOP, and even a superficial review of Republican officeholders makes it clear that they have already made significant inroads.

No wonder Trump disbanded the DHS unit.