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Home/Rod Dreher/Coming Race Crack-Up?

Coming Race Crack-Up?

Neoracist grifter Ashleigh Shackelford: an unintentional recruiter for white supremacists

An Asian-American reader who is a regular correspondent writes:

I don’t know if you follow Karlyn Borysenko. If you don’t, she’s an “organizational psychologist” who, though politically liberal, disassociated herself with the Left a year or two ago and has since become, if not a conservative, a prominent anti-leftist voice on social media. If you don’t follow her on Twitter or YouTube, I suggest you do, she’s full of insight and wit and nobody’s a better foil against the Left than a former leftist.

Recently, she began sounding the alarm about the emergence of White supremacy in America. Now, we all know President Biden has cited White supremacy as the greatest national security threat to the U.S. We all also know this is politically-motivated and is effectively a means of ensuring ideological uniformity in the country. Using things like Critical Race Theory (CRT), the Biden administration is trying to guarantee that proceeding generations will, without the slightest bit of skepticism, come to accept Democratic Party platforms and left-wing ideologies as the norm in this country. We’re already kind of there, if you ask me.

However, reading her threads makes me wonder if White supremacy will become a bigger concern going forward. Up front, I have to say this should concern everyone on the Right – it plays directly into the hands of the Left. If you want to convince people that White supremacy isn’t the biggest problem in America, what you absolutely don’t do is become the monster you claim doesn’t exist. But certain elements of the Right don’t get this. Either they’re just that cynical or stupid. Whatever the case may be, this isn’t good for us and it’s not good for the Right.

Here’s Borysenko sounding the alarm. The entire thread’s worth reading, but I want to bring your attention to these three tweets:

The reader continues:

Keep in mind – opposition to CRT isn’t limited to Whites. It’s actually a rather diverse movement:

https://campusreform.org/article?id=17673

While there’s no denying that anti-Whiteness is a core element of CRT, couching opposition to it strictly in terms of that limits our ability to fight CRT. It not only threatens to displace the hard work done by these ethnically/racially-diverse parents to fight CRT, but also totally misunderstands why CRT and leftism in general has went on such an incredible winning streak: it exploits the history of our country, which undeniably involves abhorrent racism, and because it continues to exploit the sensitivities of people, including Whites, to racism.

But it didn’t do this at the point of a gun (though that looks set to change real soon). It did it surreptitiously and subversively. “Soft” power is always more effective than “hard” power, which is what the Right doesn’t understand. It’s always trying to use the most blunt tools and language possible and effectively exposing their position before they have a chance to take a shot. If what Borysenko is saying is true, then what’s going to happen is that the Right will sell the case of White supremacy as America’s greatest national security threat for the Biden administration. Everyone, including White leftists and independents/moderates, will go along with it and we’ll have lost the fight completely.

Bear in mind – I’m not saying the Right needs to tell lies in order to win. That’s another sure way to hand the Left a victory. But the Right needs to prepare for the long struggle and focus on winning hearts and minds. Any other approach will lead to failure.

To be sure, even if Borysenko’s nightmare scenario comes to pass, I don’t see the White supremacists going on the offensive. Rather, I see them doing more of what they’re doing now – withdraw, isolate themselves, and prepare to defend their people and way of life. But this is precisely what balkanization is and exactly what we’re all trying to prevent. Besides, do you think our ruling class will leave them alone? Of course not – be it the State, ANTIFA, Black Lives Matter, whatever, they won’t leave these people alone. They’ll go after them and blood will flow. It’s what’ll happen because that’s what always happens. Maybe we’re all ultimately meant to live among our own peoples, how ever we’ve been divided. But something about that isn’t all that assuring.

For example, where do I go? I’m not White nor Black. I hear from lots of emigres, particularly from Europe and Asia, who are thinking about heading back to their homelands. But I’m already in my homeland. Blood and soil is real, Rod. Even the Left knows it, which is why they’re fighting so hard for this land – because they think it’s theirs and that “their people” have spilt blood for it. So what do you do when everyone else thinks this land belongs to “their people?” Humans cannot survive on their own, they can only survive within some form of society. The only part of society I see myself belonging to are the seemingly dwindling few who recognize the incredible danger this country’s in because of the Left, but don’t want to see an authoritarian reactionary regime from the Right emerge, either. But, one day, we may be outnumbered and become enemies of all.

As a man without community, this keeps me awake at night.

I don’t follow Karlyn Borysenko, so this is news to me. And yes, if this is happening, it is beyond alarming — and it’s not at all surprising. If you’ve been reading me for any time, you know that I have been yelling foryears that all this insane neoracist crap from the Left was bound to call up white-power demons from the Right. You cannot have one without the other. Both make us blind with hatred. Tribalism is the normal condition of human societies. If this were to happen in America, God forbid, we would only be reverting to the historical norm.

In Spain last week, I was telling one of my interlocutors that America managed to achieve something pretty spectacular in the bloody history of mankind: a society that actually made good on the idea that race should not matter, and that one stands equally before the law. By “made good,” I don’t mean “eliminated racism.” We will never eliminate racism this side of Paradise, I’m afraid, for the same reason that we will never eliminate sin. I once visited an intentional community in which everyone was the same race, and held to the same religious faith, but which had become informally divided into two camps, based on true microdifferences (if I told you what they were, you would laugh, but these were super-serious there). This is human nature. We are tribal creatures.

But in America, we have gone farther than any other nation to fight back against this stuff, and to make progress on Dr. King’s dream. You don’t believe me? Go to France, or any European country with a sizable Muslim minority. Many of these Muslims are unassimilable. Partly it’s a function of the rigidity of those native societies, and partly its a function of Islamic attitudes (I spoke to someone else in Spain who has had direct experience of the contempt many Muslim immigrants have for the natives). Whatever the causes, and in whatever proportion, the point is that America has been much better at assimilating migrants from the world over. This is an incredible achievement. The melting pot concept is not perfect, but it has largely worked. Whenever I am back in my hometown, and I see blacks and whites eating together at the same table in restaurants, as if this was perfectly normal, I sometimes recall that in the year I was born there, 1967, this was not only impossible, it had only recently become legal. 

People who say there has been no meaningful progress on race are pig-ignorant of history. But so are people who think that white power is a relic of a distant past. It was kind of traumatizing to learn as a teenager that some of the white men I grew up respecting as solid citizens had been Klansmen in the 1960s. I have written before about a white near-riot that occurred on the courthouse lawn in my hometown in 1963, when a lone black pastor registered to vote. The fact that this knowledge would genuinely shock white kids of my generation, and subsequent generations, is testimony to how dramatic the break with that shameful past was. But the fact that it is so close in history also means that it isn’t as irrecoverable as we would hope.

Glenn Loury is right:

This would be a catastrophe, and the end of America as we know it. And yet, should we be surprised that it might be happening, per Karlyn Borysenko? You cannot tell people over and over and over again that they are evil by virtue of their skin color without provoking this kind of reaction. You want to seed a white power movement? Keep doing things like this:

You want to see a white power movement? Then keep pumping comments like this from a Truthout interview with Robin D.G. Kelley, a black man who holds an endowed chair of History at UCLA:

Reparations carry their own contradictions, which we can save for another conversation. Certainly, how we proceed with repair depends on how we remember. But reparations are easier than decolonization, which is the answer to the question of where do we go, how to exit. In the United States, where the structure of colonial domination is completely shrouded in liberal multiculturalism, neoliberal homilies about freedom, colorblind discourse that undergirds criminalization and white supremacy, enabling 400 years of state-sanctioned serial murder to continue with impunity, power cannot be unseated merely through violence. (Of course, the very utterance of the word impunity reveals a contradiction, in that the point of law for the colonized is not protection but containment, discipline, and in some cases, genocide.) But we have no choice if we want to save the planet and free ourselves from liberal humanism. Decolonization, however, requires the abolition of all forms of oppression and violence. It means disbanding the military/police, opening borders, opening the prisons, freeing the body from the constraints of inherited and imposed normativities of gender and sexuality. It means ending war entirely, and that means the end of America as we know it.

This isn’t just talk. Last week, Eric Garcetti, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, announced that George Soros — of course — has expressed interest in funding a reparations program. I doubt this means that Soros is going to distribute his billions in reparations; I rather suspect this means that Soros is going to use his money to create a mechanism by which the monies of others are extracted to pay reparations. Never, ever forget what Czeslaw Milosz said in The Captive Mind (quoted by me in Live Not By Lies) about the foolishness of believing that intellectual radicalism won’t affect the Real World™:

It was only toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy.

You want to seed a white power movement? Then keep allowing peer-reviewed journals — in this case, the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association— to publish racist garbage like this excerpt from a recent paper (that seems to have been pulled since I first saw it a couple of weeks ago):

If you have had any exposure to German medical propaganda of the 1920s — that is, of the pre-Nazi era — the word parasitic will jump out at you there. This is the very same word German physicians and academics began to use to describe Jews. As we know, they eventually went beyond that. This kind of language, though, used by elite specialists, helped condition Germany to accept the Holocaust.

No, I don’t believe in the “white genocide” garbage. Whites in America are not a small and vulnerable minority. To the contrary, today whites are a majority, and will be a plurality for decades to come. But whites are, on balance, a heavily armed minority. What I worry about is interracial violence. If you aren’t worried about this too, you have not paid enough attention to history.

Why don’t white liberals speak up against this demonizing language? Why don’t normie conservatives? I think Milosz has their number. From Live Not By Lies:

In his writing about communism’s insidiousness, Miłosz referenced a 1932 novel, Insatiability. In it, Polish writer Stanisław Witkiewicz wrote of a near-future dystopia in which the people were culturally exhausted and had fallen into decadence. A Mongol army from the East threatened to overrun them.

As part of the plan to take over the nation, people began turning up in the streets selling “the pill of Murti-Bing,” named after a Mongolian philosopher who found a way to embody his “don’t worry, be happy” philosophy in a tablet. Those who took the Pill of Murti-Bing quit worrying about life, even though things were falling apart around them. When the Eastern army arrived, it surrendered happily, its soldiers relieved to have found deliverance from their internal tension and struggles.

Only the peace didn’t last. “But since they could not rid themselves completely of their former personalities,” writes Miłosz, “they became schizophrenics.”

American liberals — and some normie American conservatives — are stoned on the pill of Murti-Bing. They don’t see what’s happening all around them. They take the pill to avoid dealing with the bleeding obvious: that this leftist neoracist philosophy our corrupt elites have embraced is going to destroy our society by legitimizing racial tribalism.

Once white supremacy manifests itself openly, in large numbers, it’s probably going to be too late to stop it. We on the Right have a particular responsibility to speak out against it when we see it. No, I don’t believe any single one on of us has the capacity or the responsibility to monitor every corner of the Internet to denounce every single manifestation of it (nor do I believe all on the Left have a parallel responsibility on their side). Whataboutism is tiresome on both sides. But we do need to be conscious of it, and not hesitate to denounce it when we see it. I appreciate my Asian reader drawing my attention to Borysenko on this issue.

That said, people on the Left have the more important job, because while white supremacist rhetoric may flourish on the fringes, open neoracist discourse dominates American elites. Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo have done more for white racialist consciousness than any right-wing figure. If you are on the Left, please, I beg you, get out of your bubble and realize how the kind of racial rhetoric that has been completely normalized in your circles sounds to those who don’t exist within them. Critical Race Theory is the acid that will dissolve America, no question. If you want to keep this country together, and make it possible for us to live peaceably together, and continue the long, slow work of making progress towards loving each other more perfectly, then you had better fight CRT, whatever your politics. We on the Right who want to keep white supremacy down had better find ways to collaborate with good-faith liberals who oppose CRT. The country itself is at stake. It really is.

Back in 2017, when I wrote a series of posts about then-Texas A&M philosophy professor Tommy Curry, a radical black man, I drew attention to Curry’s rhetoric endorsing revolutionary violence against whites (for example, in this post). The Chronicle of Higher Education published a long piece sympathetic to Curry, making me into a white conservative villain who drew hatred onto Curry by the act of — wait for it — quoting publicly what he has actually written and said. This strategy was so revealing about how many on the Left think: believing that to be alarmed or offended by a left-wing person of color talking about how black folks may need to think about killing people who look like you, in the name of racial justice, is itself an act of racism.

This is the kind of elite moral idiocy that is feeding the odious white supremacy movement. I will end by repeating this quote from my Asian-American reader:

The only part of society I see myself belonging to are the seemingly dwindling few who recognize the incredible danger this country’s in because of the Left, but don’t want to see an authoritarian reactionary regime from the Right emerge, either. But, one day, we may be outnumbered and become enemies of all.

Well, reader, for what it’s worth, there will be two of us. I imagine there were people like us in pre-Civil War Spain too. But in the end, not enough to matter. It can happen here too.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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