Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Race Hustlers Are Destroying America

A new book underlines the desperate straits of the nation qua nation.


The Unprotected Class: How Anti-White Racism Is Tearing America Apart, Jeremy Carl, Regnery, 256 pages.

The latter decades of the Ottoman empire are occasionally held up as a golden age of pluralism and tolerance; in some respects, they were, particularly after the British put the kibosh on the lion’s share of the Arab slave trade. The empire’s non-Turkish, non-Muslim populations were organized into millets, or “nations,” governed by the laws particular to their religious and national groups. Armenians, Syrian Christians, Greek Orthodox, a variety of Jews, Arab Catholics—all were able to practice their religions and participate in public life with relative impunity under their own leaders, who answered to the sovereign of the sublime House of Osman, sultan of sultans, khan of khans, kalif, padishah, etc., who generally had more pressing concerns than micromanaging the affairs of the millets.  


The problem was that the Ottoman state didn’t end up doing the things we expect states to do very well at all. Inefficient revenue-collection techniques and the marginalization of the Silk Road as a central trade route sent the fisc into a long period of decline. The farther-flung polities notionally under the suzerainty of the Sublime Porte did more or less whatever they wanted, including committing various violations of the rights of the millets. (The Iraqi Jewish Sassoons, the great trading dynasty of the 19th century, fled Baghdad for British India because of the depredations of the Mamluks, who were so independent as to wage occasional wars on the central government in Istanbul.) Various Western powers exploited the independence of the millets to meddle in Ottoman internal affairs under the guise of “protection.” This administrative and fiscal chaos meant that the sultan had difficulty doing things like fielding a modern army, which became a serious, even thematic weakness in the First World War. 

The aftermath is well known: the last-ditch Ottoman efforts to modernize and homogenize, which featured what are characterized as the first modern genocides; and the failure of those efforts, which led to the collapse of the empire. The secularism, nationalism, and official monoculturalism of the modern Republic of Turkey, particularly the enforcement of Turkish language use irrespective of ethnic background, were ultimately a reaction to the failure of the millet system. The unified nation-state is the way we moderns have balanced the particular and the universal in human society. It hasn’t been perfect, but it has worked. 

In one of the characteristic backwards steps from more sophisticated to less sophisticated political systems in the past 60 years, the Western world has moved away from nationalism and embraced milletization, particularly in the face of mass immigration. Western milletization has some peculiar twists, though. First, it is everywhere inflected through the peculiarities of American racial dynamics, even in places where those dynamics are almost unintelligible. (Why were there Black Lives Matter marches in Sweden, where there is no history of African slavery and blacks make up less than 1 percent of the population?) Second, the institutions of the nation are themselves identified with “whiteness,” which is denigrated, but those institutions are then expected to be used to dole out compensatory privileges to historically disfavored millets.

Jeremy Carl, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, has addressed the dangerous oddities of the American millet system in The Unprotected Class: How Anti-White Racism Is Tearing America Apart. His argument is that, thanks to the civil rights regime as codified in 1964, America has undergone milletization that is totalitarian—it affects every aspect of public life—and incomplete—as applied, it does not address protections for the declining share of the population that is identified as “white.” His remedies focus on dismantling the legal structures of affirmative action and disparate impact.

It is not a comfortable book to read, but it is important. The central contradiction in our system—treating the characteristics of the American nation, from the Constitution to the English language, as manifestations of “whiteness,” and the consequent direction of institutional power inward against the institutions themselves—threatens the very substance of our shared public life. (The traders in identity politics agree with George Lincoln Rockwell that America is a white nation—they just think that is a bad thing, and use it as cover for attacking America itself.) Carl argues that, while a future in which Americans’ primary identification as American is desirable, the slide toward such conspicuous multicultural success stories as South Africa cannot be arrested so long as whites are a disfavored class and America itself is identified with that disfavor: “As people who, for better or worse, are soon to be just another patch in the American quilt, whites need to be able to speak up unapologetically for their own rights…. If we do not correct the course we are on, I fear we are headed for the civil strife and racial violence that has characterized so many other multiracial countries over the centuries, including, in the past, our own.”

Carl is fundamentally arguing for steps toward renewed national unity, rather than for white identity politics as an end per se: “That I am criticizing the way America has sacralized diversity does not mean I hate the diverse groups of people who call themselves Americans. It means I hate the social dynamics we are creating through anti-white discrimination, unfettered immigration, and a declining focus on cultural assimilation.” This is a worthy goal, but the very problems he identifies make it doubtful that this disclaimer will save him from the usual accusations. They also make implementing solutions difficult. The traders in identity politics, even when they are in power, no longer exactly think of themselves as part of the American body politic; if enough people follow them, there won’t be an American body politic left. 

“Being a nation is a baffling thing; for it is wholly subjective,” Enoch Powell, himself a strenuous opponent of the color bar and race-based disparity of legal rights and privileges, wrote, “they are a nation who think they are a nation: there is no other definition.” It may be too late for our shared subjectivity.