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Balkanization & Back To Blood

Politico has a fascinating story from Minnesota, about the fight splitting up the foundation started by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone’s family and supporters.  [1] A majority of the board of Wellstone Action, which trains progressive activists, kicked the senator’s sons off the board. Why? They cared too much about rural poor white people. Excerpt:

Founded after Wellstone’s death in a plane crash in 2002, Wellstone Action has trained thousands of progressive candidates, campaign operatives and community organizers throughout the country, with alumni serving in local and state offices and in the U.S. House. In 2016, the last year for which tax filings were available, the group reported providing training to 2,135 data and digital strategists, 723 nonprofit leaders and community organizers, and 854 aspiring political leaders.

David Wellstone and other Democrats close to his father began objecting last year to what he described as Wellstone Action’s abandonment of disaffected Democrats in the rural Midwest — the rural poor were an early focus of the late senator — with an increasingly narrow focus on gender politics and people of color.

“I said, ‘After Trump, we’ve got to figure out how we are going to go back after those Democrats that we lost,” David Wellstone said. “We can do all the stuff we do. We do great stuff on communities of color, we’re doing great stuff on gender identity politics. But we need to do some of these other trainings. … Nobody wanted to have a discussion about that.”

Read the whole thing.  [1]

Serious question: how many people think that having a truly liberal, non-identity politics is possible anymore? On this day in which Tom Wolfe’s death was announced, I’m reminded of this passage from his final novel, Back To Blood. The speaker is a character named Edward Topping IV, a white American who, in Wolfe’s fiction, is editor of the Miami Herald:

“Everybody… all of them… it’s back to blood! Religion is dying… but everybody still has to believe in something… So, my people, that leaves only our blood, the bloodlines that course through our very bodies, to unite us. ‘La Raza!’ as the Puerto Ricans cry out. ‘The Race!’ cries the whole world. All people, all people everywhere, have but one last thing on their minds – back to blood!”

The novel (which is not very good, or at least not the part I read until I gave up from boredom) is about ethnic cultural conflict in contemporary Miami. Tom Wolfe built his entire career as an observer of status in American life. I wonder what he thought of what was going on in Trump’s America, and how we were dividing over race and other identity markers. Look at this headline from an essay in The Forward today: “Intersectionality Has Abandoned Jews. Should We Abandon Intersectionality?” [2] If the emerging left-wing politics has no role for poor, rural, and working-class white people, and a diminished role for Jews, will they turn to the Right? What about white gays, as the gay rights issue fades among Republicans (the GOP leadership already doesn’t care about it, and it’s going to become a non-issue as older Republicans die off).

If thinking about American politics this way makes you uncomfortable, well, I think it should. But progressives — the kind of progressives who kicked Paul Wellstone’s sons off the Wellstone Action board for caring more about economics than identity politics — are driving this train. David French writes: [3]

Linker’s essay reminds me of a recent Remnant podcast [4] with Jonah Goldberg and Michael Brendan Dougherty. I’m paraphrasing, but Michael made the point that the Left is simultaneously crowing about the decline of the white voter while scolding any white voter who racializes their politics. A message that essentially declares, “Ha! White people your time is over!” and “It’s racist for you to care” is unsustainable outside progressive academies or corporations. [Emphasis mine — RD]

The answer isn’t for politics to strive to ignore race. To ignore the role of race and racism in American history (or the American present) is to ignore reality. But I can think of few developments more destructive than doubling-down on racial identity as the defining strategy for coalition-building. Given the fact that American demographics are hardly changing at the same rate in every community, this is a recipe for Balkanization and division far more than it’s a recipe for Democratic dominance.

Another serious question: what are the meaningful forces in American culture that push back against racial balkanization and other forms of identity-politics balkanization? Can they be strengthened?

A final question: It is a Noble Lie that America only started practicing identity politics recently. Our politics have always had a strong racial and ethnic element. Sometimes they were nakedly present (e.g., Southern segregationist Democrats’ appeals), but more often they were submerged in the peaked waves of meringued rhetoric like Woodrow Wilson’s speeches about how ethnicity doesn’t matter in America. Is it better to be honest, or will we miss the Noble Lie when it is gone?

UPDATE: A view from across the Pacific, from reader Seoulite:

To frame this in terms of race, with a view from an outsider:

The US originally was a white empire with black slaves which became a white dominated multi-ethnic empire. Until now this has been relatively stable because: 1) there was one undisputed majority group, and 2) economic and political ascendancy allows people to look past a lot of grievances. Like an indebted gambler who’s still on a winning streak, those niggling problems seem like far away things to be tackled some other day.

Now that whites are no longer the undisputed dominant group (at least in the mind of the people, not yet in reality), the empire is starting to fracture as do all multi-ethnic empires. Think of what is holding China together: 1) economic prosperity, 2) the relentless dominance of the Han Chinese. If the economy was seriously faltering or Beijing started giving an equal voice to any and all identity groups, how long do you think the country would hold together?

So in answer to your questions Rod:

1) non-identity politics is no longer possible because there is now a feedback loop. Identity politics grants one power, which means more people in power are identity politicians, which strengthens identity politics, and so on. Heck, many groups aren’t even really in the game yet. Whites haven’t yet taken the field in earnest under this new paradigm. Nor have East Asians, or those from the Subcontinent. Let alone black Africans. It could also be argued that hispanic identity politics is still nascent, as the conversation in America is still dominated by black-white history. This identity politics thing has barely even begun.

2) The meaningful forces that could have held the US together were civic nationalism and Christianity.

We have already begun to see some groups reject civic nationalism outright (#NotMyPresident, #TakeAKnee, pulling down statues, renaming buildings, Founding Fathers were racist, etc). It clearly does not have the power to unite people anymore. Or those who previously rejected it no longer feel the need to keep quiet.

The Church, as you’ve said many times, is weakening. The only religion that could hold the US together would be a muscular (Islam-style) Christianity that strongly rejected racial identity while enforcing Christian identitarianism. This of course would be rejected out of hand by atheists, liberal Christians, and any others who believe that multi-faith, multi-ethnic empires are sustainable. It is far too late for any of that.

As I’ve written above, this has barely begun. The legacy of slavery narrative is still so loud that other conflicts are being drowned out, but as time goes by this black vs white history of America will be replaced by a multitude of voices. I’m thinking of the political battles between Asians and Hispanics in California. Or Hispanics and Blacks in California. Or Muslims and whites in Michigan. The list goes on and on.

The story of the American Dream requires prosperity and American exceptionalism to unite people. If the USA is no longer #1, what is this American Dream and why would an immigrant from North Africa care who died in the civil war and what they blasphemed about one nation under a false god?

141 Comments (Open | Close)

141 Comments To "Balkanization & Back To Blood"

#1 Comment By JonF On May 16, 2018 @ 2:48 pm

Re: So you agree with Jesse that WWC hate minorities so much that they’ll reject things which would benefit them if they also benefit others?

I would mot go that far– it would be presumptuous. However something very strange happened in our politics in the late 20th century and I think it requires much closer attention and analysis than it gets from either the Right, who portray the Working Class as a bunch of pious neo-prudes (they most assuredly are not), nor from the Left which think they all have Klan hoods in their closets (no, they definitely do not). And after all, I come from these people (Dad a truck driver step-sister a tool and dye maker), well, the Michigan subspecies of them at least. And even so I have never seen a convincing explanation for what happened politically between 1960 and now. I don’t buy into either Social Conservatism or Racism as the one-size-fits-all exegesis. And it matters– in a very, very bad way, it will– likely– matter a great deal.

#2 Comment By EarlyBird On May 16, 2018 @ 3:07 pm

We need to demand that our political leaders restore the socio-economic pact which helped so many Americans succeed during the 20th Century.

The elites – those who dictate to our government no matter which party is in power, who get richer no matter what happens to the economy – are thrilled that the hoi polloi are fighting over gender pronouns and the definition of an “assault rifle.” If it wasn’t for these distractions, we’d have time and energy to recognize that the great majority of Americans’s economic future is imperiled by Darwinian capitalists.

One way to reaffirm an American identity is to point to this reality.

Both Bernie and Trump pointed to the fact that the system is rigged against the little guy. Trump won, and then quickly became a Reaganite with his massive tax cut for the uber-rich. Bernie had terrible answers, but he certainly knew the right questions to ask.

#3 Comment By Some Wag On May 16, 2018 @ 4:00 pm

City neighborhoods aren’t large enough to make possible a viable ethnostate. They frequently change national identity from one generation to the next. There are no ethnicities in the US with viable claims on national territory. The country is basically monolingual, even taking into account Latinos. The US can’t Balkanize because it’s not the Balkans. This is badly overwrought, the premise of massive ethnic conflict and standardized Idpol in place of all other politics in America quickly runs itself out of social science straight into dystopian sci fi and wish fulfillment for ethnonationalist fantasists.

#4 Comment By WorkingClass On May 16, 2018 @ 5:13 pm

The coalition of the fringes is busy institutionalizing racism against whites and sexism against men. Perhaps turn about is fair play. But what if white men refuse to look at their shoes as they shuffle to the back of the bus?

Consider the red and blue electoral map depicting county results in the 2016 election. An archipelago of blue in a sea of red. Now change blue to black and red to white. It’s not like white men have no place to go. The second wave of white flight will carry whites past the suburbs and out of the metro altogether.

#5 Comment By Brendan On May 16, 2018 @ 5:44 pm

The route forward is precisely along the opposite path: fragment the “white” identity so that they can no longer dominate anyone else,

In other wordsL “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, my white descendants have got to go!”

The white hatred here is intense. I feel very vindicated in my views reading trash like this. I for one will never capitulate to what you want and what people like you want.

#6 Comment By Seoulite On May 16, 2018 @ 6:09 pm

All of the data that I have seen indicates that the Red vs Blue and city vs rural divides are much greater than the racial/ethnic ones in America today. I regularly hear people dehumanizing the Other in this context, but I periodically go years without hearing similar speech about another race/ethnicity.

Hector already gave one response to this but there’s another point to be made. I think you are right, and I overstated it. However, I do think that ‘Republican’ is synonymous in more than a few people’s minds with ‘old white people’ or more broadly ‘stupid white people’. I mean, look at the outrage caused by Kanye saying black people don’t have to be liberals.

@Roger II

I was responding to Adamant’s proposed solution for those worrying about the future of America, which was quite literally have children and find a hobby to pass the time.

More broadly, it is not unusual on this blog and elsewhere to hear people say that this culture produces materialistic and hedonistic people. I don’t know if mixed families are more like to do that, but if people are raised without strong traditions and heritage (multiculturalism clearly isn’t strong enough for this) then I think meaninglessness and hedonism are indeed the result.

I’m sure you and those around you have tried not to do this, and I applaud you. You will also be aware, no doubt, that mixed kids often have identity issues as they grow up. That may well be the fault of the current political climate, and is certainly not an argument against mixed families.

Do you really believe that blood and race have that much meaning?

I look around the world, and I say yes. America and Western Europe are the exceptions , not the norm.

@Siarlys

I bet he doesn’t live in the neighborhood. Up close, anyone can see a mix of hard working courteous families and good neighbors, with a certain percentage of rude inconsiderate people, people with a chip on their shoulder, and outright thugs. The percentages may differ, the tolerance may differ, but you lose the notion that this or that racial group are “all like that.”

I agree with this. Racism on an individual level between people who live together for a long time would seem to be really quite rare, especially in today’s America. However, I think people utilise different psychological frames in different contexts. For example, I think it is perfectly possible for a white person in America to know and love individual black people, but have some negative and stereotypical views of black people as a whole group. I’m not saying it’s right or just, but I think it’s psychologically tenable.

Here’s another example. Here in Korea you can hear perfectly nice, reasonable people casually express racism towards Chinese people as if it were common knowledge and common sense. Now, when these people meet an individual Chinese person, I think they will treat them much better than that. Why? One reason could be that a different framework is running in their head and, illogical though it is, the individual is not seen as part of the same category as the group.

That may why these discussion oscillate so often between neighbourhood level anecdotes and statistical national group averages.

#7 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 6:09 pm

“Another serious question: what are the meaningful forces in American culture that push back against racial balkanization and other forms of identity-politics balkanization? Can they be strengthened?”

During the great Hormel strike of the middle 1980’s, a white Hormel worker speaking in the hall of the big NYC union, District 65, admitted that he used to use the “N” word all the time, but that traveling around the country on behalf of the the strike and meeting black workers who showed him nothing but solidarity had changed his outlook and his ways. So, in answer to Rod’s question, I’d say class struggle and solidarity, even if one can question just how meaningful they both are in American culture right now (and I say this as someone fully cognizant of the mixed bag of labor history when it comes to race). The teacher and public employee fights in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma offer some real hope in this regard.

The Trump re-election campaign, by the way, is targeting Minnesota and Colorado as states that went for Clinton by narrow margins and could be picked up by him in 2020. There’s also been some chatter that Minnesota could be the GOP’s next Wisconsin, union-busting included. Christ, the myopia of the current Democratic, Clintonite “left” is just stunning.

Oh, and taking money from the Ford and Soros Foundations!!! Sure, just invite the vipers into your bed, why don’tcha!

#8 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 6:45 pm

Jesse says: “Many of the poor rural people won’t vote for us as long as the programs we offer them are also offered to people unlike them.”

Wrong. Demonstrably wrong. The whole history of social programs over the last 50 years is that programs that are open to ALL are politically popular and hard to get rid of. Social Security, Medicare (for all old people) and the VA (for all veteran) are the preeminent examples of this. Programs that appear to help only some “other” people, or are made out to look like they only help “other” people, are not popular and can be gotten rid of. Income-based programs like welfare are always underfunded and on shaky political ground. This is one reason why centrist Democrats and their love for “means-testing” social programs have always been more popular on the editorial and opinion pages than at the ballot box.

Bernie, New Deal Democrat in fact if not in name, WOULD have beaten Trump in the electoral college. I’m not sure if he would have beaten Trump outright among white working class voters, rural or otherwise, but he sure would have done better than Clinton.

#9 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 6:47 pm

Some Wag says: “City neighborhoods aren’t large enough to make possible a viable ethnostate.”

There’s a whole generation of American Maoists that never seemed to learn that lesson.

#10 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 6:56 pm

yenwoda says: “I’m generally pro-labor, but card check always struck me as an issue where the opposition had a good point re:coercion and privacy, with NLRB certified secret ballots being a reasonable system.”

The problem is that there is a billion-dollar industry that exists simply to prevent unionization, to take advantage of the current rules to delay and delay and delay union recognition votes while harassing and firing the most visible union activists in the workforce and browbeating and threatening everyone else with “We’ll shut down the plant/call center/store/distribution center and move it to X “Right to Work” state or Y country (with state tax incentives for the former and federal ones for the latter) if you ‘vote’ the wrong way.”

Personally, I think workers and unions need to break the law if they are going to start winning fights. They can make dropping legal charges and penalties part of any settlements, private sector or public. Screw the Taylor Law!

#11 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 7:07 pm

Thomas Hobbes says: “‘Noah172 says:
Interracial mating has been part of Latin American culture since the conquistadors arrived. Most Latin Americans are mestizos (‘mixed’). Still have racial divides in culture and politics (and lots of inequality, violence, corruption).”

“Indeed, this suggests that ‘race’ has nothing to do with it. Human nature will always find a way.”

You accept the first part of Noah’s statement while sliding right on by the second, qualifying part. There absolutely is racism in Latin America against people who are more “Indian” or native-looking than folks with more “white” or Spanish blood. Hell, there’s a whole cottage industry in the anti-Cuban Revolution milieu devoted to proving that Cuba “still” has an anti-black racism problem and that not nearly as much progress has been made along those lines as the government and the Revolution’s supporters claim, with some of said supporters responding that yes, there still is a problem, and that the opening up to capitalism is what’s responsible for any backsliding.

#12 Comment By Ready for the Apocalypse On May 16, 2018 @ 7:12 pm

Hector sez: “The route forward is precisely along the opposite path: fragment the “white” identity so that they can no longer dominate anyone else”

We’re way past the point where the white identity can be fragmented. We don’t really have German-Americans or Irish-Americans like we used to: instead we have Americans of German or Irish descent – often in the same person. The only thing that could “fragment” white Americans would be mass immigration from Europe, and that’s not gonna happen.

Nationalities are usually created out of the melding of different ethnicities: e.g. Celts + Saxons + Danes + Normans = English. A “White American” identity could come about the same way, and arguably is already happening, ironically due to the decline in immigration from Europe (as well as other pressures).

#13 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 7:17 pm

Anne says: “Post-60s Republican politics HAS been a form of identity politics. The focus on culture war depends on it. Whose identity is supposedly threatened from all sides by all those minority groups supported by Democrats? From what I can tell it’s a rare white bird they call the ‘Judeo-Christian.'”

Jesse Helms was the preeminent example, but Jerry Falwell went straight from anti-civil rights organizing to opening up white-flight educational “academies” and then the culture wars.

#14 Comment By VikingLS On May 16, 2018 @ 7:20 pm

“I would mot go that far– it would be presumptuous. However something very strange happened in our politics in the late 20th century and I think it requires much closer attention and analysis than it gets from either the Right, who portray the Working Class as a bunch of pious neo-prudes (they most assuredly are not), nor from the Left which think they all have Klan hoods in their closets (no, they definitely do not).”

It’s very telling that in this story of yours you are bothering me, who has NOT come CLOSE to suggesting the working class are pious neo-prudes, but you are leaving Jesse, who has put quite bit of energy now into saying the WWC are motivated by racial resentment, alone.

JonF why aren’t you going after Jesse, the guy who is actually making the fallacious argument you’re suggesting?

This is incredibly annoying.

#15 Comment By JonF On May 16, 2018 @ 7:37 pm

Re: . The second wave of white flight will carry whites past the suburbs and out of the metro altogether.

Oh? And how will they live? The current population trend is still the same one we have seen for a very long time: Migration out of the rural areas and toward the cities. This is why so many rural areas are slowly dying. Like it or not, jobs are mainly in urban areas (which include suburbs). That’s where population will continue to cluster and grow. Outside of a few rural areas that serve as resorts or host major government facilities or are just close enough to cities to function as exurbs (and eventually become suburbs) very few people can make a living in the country. And I do not see anything on the horizon, not even catastrophe, that is going to change that.

#16 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 7:38 pm

According to Wikipedia, Sweden has gone from less than 2% of its population being made up of immigrants in 1945 to under 7% in 1970, but that population being mainly European (Finnish workers, for instance, and some of them went home). Refugees from Yugoslavia appear to have been the biggest portion of the refugee community up until the early aughts, with the shift to non-Europeans with lower educations only becoming a majority of the immigrant population in 2008.

If that’s roughly the case, my response would be that any pressure on Swedish, and European, social democracy and social welfare pre-date mass third world immigration as the global war on labor and on the “welfare state” dates back to the late 70’s and really took off in the 1980’s, from Reagan’s US and Thatcher’s UK, sure, but also including social democratic and labor parties turning right from Spain and Portugal to Scandanavia and Latin America. I’m not saying mass immigration doesn’t exacerbate the situation, but it has not been a necessary preexisting condition for the launching of attacks on social welfare systems and working class living standards.

#17 Comment By Thaomas On May 16, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

At Seoulite:

“We have already begun to see some groups reject civic nationalism outright (#NotMyPresident, #TakeAKnee, pulling down statues, renaming buildings, Founding Fathers were racist, etc).”
What? Those are EXPRESSIONS of civil nationalism,

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 16, 2018 @ 9:30 pm

Here in Korea you can hear perfectly nice, reasonable people casually express racism towards Chinese people as if it were common knowledge and common sense. Now, when these people meet an individual Chinese person, I think they will treat them much better than that. Why?

When you are talking about “the enemy” across a small body of water, an enemy you only encounter in person when one army or the other crosses a defended border, it is easy to think like that. When you meet an individual in person, its much harder. Even a Lakota and a Blackfoot could forge a friendship in the unlikely event that they actually had an opportunity to get to know each other. And who could forget the Doonesbury series about Phred the Terrorist and BD getting lost in the jungles together? “Man, what I wouldn’t give for a bowl of my mother’s rice right now.” “Amazing. I didn’t know commies had mothers.”

We don’t have to fragment “white” identity. We just have to throw it away, like the filthy rag it is. And all of us who have pale complexions can go right on living without it.

#19 Comment By connecticut farmer On May 16, 2018 @ 10:33 pm

Could it be that humankind was never meant to be One Big Happy Family, sitting around the campfire and chanting kumbaya? Could it be that what we call “tribalism” is possibly an expression of what biologists might call “mammalian territoriality” and as such may be so deep rooted within the human psyche, if not within the genetic code itself, that it becomes as natural as breathing? The history of mankind, and for all I know mankind’s pre-history, has been marked by war and conflict, conflict and war–and there’s no end in sight.Is what’s being played out now, not only in America but throughout the world, simply an updated version of what was going on in the Great Rift Valley two million years ago? If all this is true, then are we deluding ourselves if we think that there are any solutions? Or are we doomed to endless cycles of war/conflict, punctuated by brief periods of peace?

Just asking.

Just asking.

#20 Comment By Seoulite On May 16, 2018 @ 11:27 pm

@Thaomas

my point is that they are rejections of symbols of the once-unifying ‘civic religion’: the office of the Presidency, the flag, the great men of history, the Founding Fathers.

@Siarlys

You made my exact point. Did you read the rest of my comment?

We don’t have to fragment “white” identity. We just have to throw it away, like the filthy rag it is. And all of us who have pale complexions can go right on living without it.

You keep pushing this, and I will keep telling you that it’s a dead end. Some people already think that whites (and whites alone) have unilaterally disarmed in this ‘struggle’. You won’t convince them.

#21 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 11:57 pm

Ready for the Apocalypse says: “Nationalities are usually created out of the melding of different ethnicities: e.g. Celts + Saxons + Danes + Normans = English. A ‘White American’ identity could come about the same way, and arguably is already happening, ironically due to the decline in immigration from Europe (as well as other pressures).”

This is probably exactly what is going on with the second and third generation Hispanics, Asian-Americans and Arabs/Middle Easterners in response to all of the anti-immigration rhetoric from the Republican Party. All ethnic groups that the GOP had some success with in earlier days, by the way, as recently as the Bush Administration (Muslims, too). Lord knows there’s enough tension between Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, Mexicans and the rest, but there’s nothing like undifferentiated hostility from the outside to forge a group identity among disparate groups.

If the heat from the outside is hot enough, it doesn’t even require a political left trying to forge an overarching identity, like activists of the Asian/Pacific-American Movement tried to do, and somewhat succeeded in doing at the cultural level, back in the 1970’s and 80’s. The fight over 1986 immigration reform (Senator Alan Simpson!) brought some of those groups together, and anti-Asian violence could do the same, like the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin, mistaken for Japanese by a couple of white autoworkers.

#22 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On May 17, 2018 @ 12:10 am

Noah172 says:
Interracial mating has been part of Latin American culture since the conquistadors arrived. Most Latin Americans are mestizos (‘mixed’). Still have racial divides in culture and politics (and lots of inequality, violence, corruption).

I said:
Indeed, this suggests that ‘race’ has nothing to do with it. Human nature will always find a way.

cka2nd says:
You accept the first part of Noah’s statement while sliding right on by the second, qualifying part. There absolutely is racism in Latin America against people who are more “Indian” or native-looking than folks with more “white” or Spanish blood.

I think you misunderstood my statement. I did not mean nature will always find a way to make babies. I meant that human nature will always find a way to create tribalism even when everybody is the same mixed race. The latin american countries I know something about (there’s a lot that I know little about so this probably can’t be generalized) don’t care about actual parentage/heritage they just care about skin tone for making their tribal distinctions.

Neither becoming a white ethnostate nor interbreeding beyond ethnic recognition will resolve our national tribal issues/polarization. Our main tribal conflict is between groups with the same skin tone/race.

#23 Comment By Hound of Ulster On May 17, 2018 @ 12:45 am

I think a civic nationalism that takes pride in the inherent heterogeneity of being ‘American’ (people from Central and South America, and the Caribbean also use that word to describe themselves, and while not direct relations are very much cousins of people from the USA in both spirit and a shared cultural experience of colonialism, revolution(s), debates over ‘who’ is the ‘nation’ immigration, and the legacy of race-based slavery) can replace the highly racialized idea of Americanness that prevailed before 1965 and has been contested since. There are no ‘white’ Americans, no ‘black’ Americans, no ‘yellow’ Americans, no ‘brown’ Americans, and very few purely ‘red’ Americans. There are only Americans: rougher, simpler, more violent, more enterprising, less refined. We are new people born of the New World, but ideally without the pathologies of the Old World from which most, but not all, of our ancestors came from. Alas, we have our own pathologies to deal with, and the last thing we need is European style ethnonationalism piled on top of the legacies of slavery/segregation, genocide against the native population of these lands, and religious bigotry that we have inherited from our American ancestors.

A propositional civic nationalism that gives protection and liberty in exchange for absolute loyalty to the universalist principles embedded, however imperfectly, in the US Constitution could be a formidable binding force bringing together the disparate American population. Whichever faction can make the case for during this wrenching transition away from the ‘white’/Protestant super-majority Republic will govern the country for a hundred years. I don’t think Trumpian ‘conservatives’ will be that faction, but neither will the ‘identity politics’ radicals. Both will be found wanting for one reason or another.

It is going to be interesting, and not a little bit surprising, as to what comes next.

#24 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On May 17, 2018 @ 1:45 am

Seoulite says:
Hector already gave one response to this but there’s another point to be made. I think you are right, and I overstated it. However, I do think that ‘Republican’ is synonymous in more than a few people’s minds with ‘old white people’ or more broadly ‘stupid white people’. I mean, look at the outrage caused by Kanye saying black people don’t have to be liberals.

There’s no doubt that peoples’ entire identity is tangled up in their tribal affiliation as well as their perception of who the Other is and why they’re bad. The idea that whites vs everybody else is the dominant tribal boundary is pretty silly though, 59% of registered Democrats are white and only 69% of registered Republicans are white ( [5]).

It’s definitely true that people identify a certain kind of white person with Republicans. It’s also true that people identify a certain kind of white person with Democrats ( [6]). There are actually a whole bunch of tribal signifiers that white people use to establish their tribal identity – whether they belong to the red or blue tribe. Scott Alexander made a quick summary for his article on tribalism that I like to link because i agree with most of it ( [7]), though I’m a bit less enamored with the definition of the tribes in it:

The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

Interestingly, you’ll note that there are no typical working class traits in the blue tribe list except for “liberal political beliefs”. This is probably a big part of the Democratic parties increasing struggle with the working class despite their push for health care, minimum wage increases, support for unions, etc.

VikingLS and others periodically complain that a lot of people from the blue tribe follow Rod’s blog and comment here. I suspect that one of the big reasons for that, other than his excellent moderation of comments, is that Rod, despite being a raging conservative, has a number of blue tribe traits that make him more relatable and understandable to lefties.

#25 Comment By muad’dib On May 17, 2018 @ 7:12 am

[NFR: I get the feeling you think that the only reason anybody ever voted Republican is because of this garbage. Come on, be serious. If you can manage it. — RD]

That garbage, has you call it, has been pumped into the American Political system for the last forty years. The people [8] aren’t idiots throwing money out the window.

Does media bias affect voting? We address this question by looking at the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting. Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, we investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. We find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gain 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News. The results are robust to town-level controls, district and county fixed effects, and alternative specifications. We also find a significant effect of Fox News on Senate vote share and on voter turnout. Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican. We interpret the results in light of a simple model of voter learning about media bias and about politician quality. The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, or a permanent effect for voters subject to non-rational persuasion.

Let me phrase differently: Not all Republican voters are White racist, but all White racist are Republican voters.

[NFR: Then you agree with the corollary: not all Democrats are non-white racists, but all non-white racists are Democrats, right? — RD]

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 17, 2018 @ 9:54 am

I meant that human nature will always find a way to create tribalism even when everybody is the same mixed race.

That’s probably true. But we can get rid of the more irrational stuff, like the artificiality of “white supremacy” concocted to preserve the profits of a handful of mercantile capitalists and large scale agricultural elites, find more significant ways to group ourselves, keep the rivalry down to a dull roar, somewhat short of incessant warfare and constant duels, and maybe even find ways our specialization can be turned to mutual benefit.

All ethnic groups that the GOP had some success with in earlier days, by the way, as recently as the Bush Administration (Muslims, too). Lord knows there’s enough tension between Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, Mexicans and the rest, but there’s nothing like undifferentiated hostility from the outside to forge a group identity among disparate groups.

Muslims I know in Milwaukee turned out for George W. Bush in 2000 based on moral issues. By 2004, they were all building ties to state and local Democrats, and lukewarm supporting John Kerry.

I once heard a Puerto Rican in California refer to “these Mexican n*****s.” Yes, various varieties of Latinos despise each other, and often can’t even understand each other’s Spanish.

English had some substance to it by the time it emerged as a nationality… “white” just doesn’t have it. Its a granfalloon as Kurt Vonnegut used to write.

#27 Comment By JonF On May 17, 2018 @ 10:24 am

Re: The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

OK, so let me take the Blue Tribe test:

1. “Liberal political beliefs” is too vague and general. Get back to me with specifics.
2. “Vague Agnosticism”: Um, no. Definitely not on that page.
3. “supporting gay rights” – Yes, but then :fay rights” are nothing more than human and civil rights applied to gay people.
4. “thinking guns are barbaric”. Not really. Never owned a gun, nor did my father (except as a GI), nor his father. But I come from a subculture where Hunting Season was right up there with Christmas. I have no issues with responsible gun owners, who include many friends with hunting and sport weapons. In other words, I’m on board with “Field and Stream”, but not with the “Soldier of Fortune” nuttery of the NRA.
5. “eating arugula:: Guilty,. I love tasty salad greens, and have four arugula plants flourishing in my garden right now (along with romaine lettuce and spinach)
6. “drinking fancy bottled water” Not so much. Generally I drink tap water with a slice of lemon or lime in it at home. and if I buy bottled water when I am out, it’s usually the cheaper sort.
7. “driving Priuses” Nope. I drive a Jeep.
8. “Reading lots of books” – Yep, very very much so.
9. “feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it”- for me this is Not applicable.
10. “getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots” – Well, I loathe bigotry, but in real life I also loathe drama queenery, so I usually avoid being “conspicuously” upset about anything
11. “marrying later” – I do not see myself marrying at all
12. “constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America” – Nit a matter of their being civilized– but rather of said countries doing a much better job of keeping their Owning Class from immiserating their working class. Just say no to oligarchy, Ayn Rand and social Darwinism.
13. “and listening to “everything except country” – Some country I’ll tolerate. I really dislike hard rap, and am not partial to the broader hip-hop genre in general. Outside sacred and classical music, give me music I can dance too (or imagine myself dancing too)

#28 Comment By George Hoffman On May 17, 2018 @ 10:25 am

Would a feminist icon such as Hillary Clinton have voted for GWB’s Iraq War resolution? was the question I asked myself during her run for President as a registered Democrat from Ohio. Well, having actually witnessed war during my tour of duty as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I knew the vast majority of victims in war are always defenseless women and children that I saw in the villes. But my fellow baby boomers are trapped in this myopic nostalgia for the turbulent sixties when they manned the barricades against the war. Yet GWB’s Iraq War resolution eerily reminded me of LBJ’s Gulf of Tonkin, and it was obvious just as illegal and criminal as the war I saw as a naive, young man. But from the sixties came the the culture war that Pat Buchanan cited in his speech at the Republican convention in 1992 in Houston, Texas. Or perhaps a better lesson would be: never vote for candidate for president of either party who hails from Texas where pistol-packing hombres have a strong penchant for frontier justice for voters. The Buffalo Springfield once opined, “Nobody’s right / If everybody’s wrong.” On my first day back in the “world” as I hurried through the crowded concourse at the Seattle Airport to catch my connecting flight back to Cleveland, three longhairs walking toward me stooped in front of me in my dress blues and a duffel and over shoulder. Then they kicked their heels, gave me the Nazi salute, shouted “Sieg Heil!” amd they laughed at my public humiliation and casually walked away quite pleased with their expression of free speech. But most baby boomers in the Democratic Party are trapped in this nostaglia for the turbulent sixties when they manned the barricades against the war. Yet they have no moral qualms about sending young men and women in the volunteer armed forces off to war as if it were an away game on the high school football schedule, of course, when it is politically convenient and advantageous to remain gainfully employed as senators and representatives. I would also include fellow Vietnam veterans such as John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and John McCain who are just as craven as Hillary Clinton. They learned nothing from the war or perhaps had an attack of historical aphasia when they voted for the Iraq War resolution. So I say, a pox upon both their houses. So I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Ohio primary and sat out the election since both candidates were equally unqualified and would be a disaster for this country in their own unique way given their individual corruption. And that “basket of deplorables?” They are also frozen in their own myopic parallel universe about making America great again. So we live in an era as Matthew Arnold observed in his poem, “Stanza from the Grande Chartreuse,” where we are “(wandering) between two worlds, one dead, / The other powerless to be born.” We are in the midst of an opioid crisis, because of the collapse of values similar to what Russia experienced after the demise of the Soviet Union when the Berlin Wall fell. Norman Mailer said that we didn’t really win the Cold War as so much outspend the Soviet Union, because we had a much larger GNP and the economic shock of the 2008 meltdown took much longer to rippple through the country. But ironically the fall of Saigon in April, 1975, marked and coincided with the beginning of our decline as both a military and industrial superpower. It just took longer. But the chickens have come home to roost. So, in the fading autumn of my old age, T.S. Eliot may just be right that this all will end with not with a bang but with a whimper. Specious Ideology has marched us into a historical cul-de-sac and decadence reigns supreme as we go through the motions of this charade of the democratic process.

#29 Comment By simon94022 On May 17, 2018 @ 10:50 am

No ethnic hatred in America is as deep or abiding as the contempt economically well off/culturally progressive whites have toward all other white people (collectively, “Cletus”)

#30 Comment By VikingLS On May 17, 2018 @ 10:58 am

“VikingLS and others periodically complain that a lot of people from the blue tribe follow Rod’s blog and comment here.”

The American Conservative used to be a place where there was internal conversation going on on the right, one I felt was important. When all these liberals followed Rod in here it turned into a lot of left / right talking past each other. I obviously have a bias, but I think that’s much worse from the liberals here, many of whom genuinely seem puzzled that liberal positions and ideas are given primacy here.

And let’s be honest, do you think we’re well served by comments like this:

“Let me phrase differently: Not all Republican voters are White racist, but all White racist are Republican voters.”

Or the new old classic

“but her emails!” every time Trump does something questionable, as if we can just take for granted that a Clinton presidency would have been better for EVERYBODY.

I agree that Rod has many interests and tendencies that he shares with liberals, but not all conservatives are rednecks or bankers.

#31 Comment By VikingLS On May 17, 2018 @ 11:03 am

Sorry that should be “many of whom genuinely seem puzzled that liberal positions and ideas aren’t given primacy here.”

#32 Comment By VikingLS On May 17, 2018 @ 11:21 am

On another note, whether or not white people identify as white, other groups are going to identify you as white. It’s not something you can simply throw away because it’s not up to you.

#33 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On May 17, 2018 @ 12:57 pm

JonF,
They’re just a list of identifier traits, few specimens will have all of one and none of the other (and there are many sub tribes). Also, if you are a friend of Rod Drehr you are almost certainly not fully subsumed by your tribal identity. I’m not terribly happy with this list for either tribe, I just really like the article it’s from so it was easy to find.

#34 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 17, 2018 @ 12:59 pm

[9], your post was excellent, but it really needs paragraph breaks. As it stands, too many people will find it too difficult to read.

#35 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On May 17, 2018 @ 1:52 pm

VikingLS says:
The American Conservative used to be a place where there was internal conversation going on on the right, one I felt was important. When all these liberals followed Rod in here it turned into a lot of left / right talking past each other. I obviously have a bias, but I think that’s much worse from the liberals here, many of whom genuinely seem puzzled that liberal positions and ideas aren’t given primacy here.

That sounds like it could’ve been great, but also kinda like something that could’ve been an echo chamber/safe space. Was there much constructive input from conservatives of the non-paleo variety (I obviously wasn’t here then)?

I’m generally very weary/mistrustful of the myopia of within tribe exploration/debate, it has actually pushed me to abandon most liberal news sources completely. The fact that advocates of a white ethnostate and members of antifa can talk to each other here about religion and gay marriage in a generally civil way is quite unique, impressive, and worth maintaining imo.

And let’s be honest, do you think we’re well served by comments like this:

“Let me phrase differently: Not all Republican voters are White racist, but all White racist are Republican voters.”

I’m not sure, probably in moderation? I think periodic reminders of how the other tribe views your tribe are beneficial and should be explored to the extent that they can be talked about in good faith (you may feel that does not constitute good faith). I often see here statements about how whites are under a constant barrage of attacks for their whiteness. I have mentioned before that I really don’t get where that is coming from, but the fact is that there is a large number of people that feel this way so I should make an effort to understand why if I want reduce the amount of people who feel this way (or if I just want to understand my fellow man).

On another note, whether or not white people identify as white, other groups are going to identify you as white. It’s not something you can simply throw away because it’s not up to you.

This is certainly true. Do you see most “anti-white” rhetoric coming from non-whites? Most of what I see labeled as “anti-white” is in fact coming from white liberals.

#36 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 17, 2018 @ 3:34 pm

On another note, whether or not white people identify as white, other groups are going to identify you as white. It’s not something you can simply throw away because it’s not up to you.

It takes a bit of conscious effort, which in the short run is indeed counterintuitive, but there is sunshine beyond the storm clouds.

Viking can be a bit thin-skinned sometimes, but he’s often right about the liberals here. (One time we agreed was when a liberal said that liberals are less likely to kill for their ideology than conservatives, and I pointed out several historical examples of how thousands of communists slaughtered by liberals could testify to the contrary.) This IS a conservative blog sponsored by a conservative magazine. Rod has welcomed diverse points of view, including criticism, but none of us who differ on certain points should expect he’s going to simply AGREE with us. I view TAC as an effort to restore intelligence to conservative thought, and I’d rather have an appreciative conversation with intelligent conservatives than the current dominant brand.

Do you see most “anti-white” rhetoric coming from non-whites? Most of what I see labeled as “anti-white” is in fact coming from white liberals.

Yup. Its their inherently racist way of ostentatiously showing off how anti-racist they are.

#37 Comment By VikingLS On May 17, 2018 @ 6:18 pm

“It takes a bit of conscious effort, which in the short run is indeed counterintuitive, but there is sunshine beyond the storm clouds.”

No, it’s not up to you whether you’re white. PERIOD. You can yourself identify as white or not, but other people are STILL going to see you as white. Pretending otherwise is well, pretending.

I would absolutely love it if we could just tell people like Ta-Nehsi Coates that he needs to stop talking about whiteness because it doesn’t exist. He’s not going to.

“That sounds like it could’ve been great, but also kinda like something that could’ve been an echo chamber/safe space. Was there much constructive input from conservatives of the non-paleo variety (I obviously wasn’t here then)?”

Back then a long thread was maybe 15 comments, not the 100s that Rod gets. I understand he’s good for the site. There definitely was input from the non-paleoright. Was it constructive? In my opinion most of it was stupid, but we needed to have those conversations.

So many taboos have been broken on the right with the rise of Trump that I am less concerned about this now than I used to be.

#38 Comment By VikingLS On May 17, 2018 @ 6:21 pm

“This is certainly true. Do you see most “anti-white” rhetoric coming from non-whites?”

Oh and yes, actually, I do. Most of it seems to be coming from what, I think, is a loud minority of blacks.

#39 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 18, 2018 @ 2:23 pm

No, it’s not up to you whether you’re white. PERIOD.

Its not up to YOU either Viking. Don’t talk nonsense. What’s not up to me is what exact complexion may skin came out as, although we all have the option to use bleaching or darkening agents, to spend more or less time in the sun, with or without sun blocker, etc. etc. etc. I’ve often wondered why the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan don’t picket tanning salons for facilitating good Christian white young ladies making themselves a little less “white.”

Nor is it up to me how other people view me or react to me, in this or any other respect.

What IS up to me is whether I live, act, speak, in a manner that recognizes, complies with, or defers to the artificial racial identity known as “white” — which was only made up about 500 years ago, for the most sordid, venal and opportunistic motives. As I said, what if they gave a “white race” and nobody came? Someone has to start the process, just as a single piece of gravel has to start an avalanche.

I would absolutely love it if we could just tell people like Ta-Nehsi Coates that he needs to stop talking about whiteness because it doesn’t exist.

Me too. Can you arrange an introduction? Meantime, I have to settle for telling people I work with who are 95 percent people of visible African descent, “Ain’t nobody white except lepers and albinos.” Haven’t experienced any push back. The most nationalistic (and light-skinneded) fellow worker was pushing me to run for shop steward. (He also showed a hilarious comedy video in the break room called “N*****r” only without the asterisks. It feature a blind man of visible African descent who grew up in a boarding school for blind children and had written six viciously racist best-sellers because he never got a look at his own skin.)

On the whole, if you can’t handle someone offering a markedly different point of view than your own, while retaining your sense of how and why you believe what you do, its time to reconsider whether you were right in the first place.

#40 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On May 18, 2018 @ 4:56 pm

VikingLS,
Thanks for replying.

“This is certainly true. Do you see most “anti-white” rhetoric coming from non-whites?”

Oh and yes, actually, I do. Most of it seems to be coming from what, I think, is a loud minority of blacks.

Interesting, what kinda area and cultural region are you in (my memory is you are somewhere in the non-deep south) and what are the local demographics?

The only place I’ve encountered a strong anti-white rhetoric from blacks is borderlands next to black ghettos. I’ve never spent any serious time in the south other than the New Orleans area though, so I don’t have much experience of the part of the US that is supposed to have the most racial animosity and be the most conservative.

I would absolutely love it if we could just tell people like Ta-Nehsi Coates that he needs to stop talking about whiteness because it doesn’t exist.

I don’t read TNC much (because his writing seems quite turgid and repetitive to me), but in what I have read he actually seems to agree with Siarlys – that “people that think of themselves as white” are the problem rather than melanin deficiency (he repeated this phrase a number of times whatever the last article of his I read was).

#41 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 18, 2018 @ 6:53 pm

in what I have read he actually seems to agree with Siarlys – that “people that think of themselves as white” are the problem rather than melanin deficiency (he repeated this phrase a number of times whatever the last article of his I read was).

I wouldn’t have expected that from what has been showcased here, but its hopeful news if true. Coates has either been reading Dreher’s blog or, more likely, James Baldwin, who first introduced the concept in print. Baldwin wrote at about the same time ‘it is no longer important to be white, thank God, and soon it will no longer be important to be black.’ A bit optimistic, but pointing in the right direction.