Whiteshift & The Demons The Left Summons
Is there anybody who doesn’t recognize the Buffalo massacre as a racist abomination, and the (alleged) murderer as the scum of the earth? Of course not! Is there any decent person who doesn’t deplore the racist propaganda on the Internet? No!
This is (mostly) not a blog post about that demonic act and actor, or the hateful philosophy that drove him. You can find those kinds of stories and commentaries everywhere. Insofar as they condemn him, his deed, and the ideology that motivated him, I endorse them, or at least that part of those commentaries. But this blog post is a story about how the media are exploiting this horror to forward a narrative that demonizes political actors they hate.
First, let me share with you a story about how this works, in a fairly non-political story. Check out this new 40-minute documentary from the New York Post, about the Pentagon’s secret office investigating UFOs.Remember what a huge deal it was when The New York Times revealed this thing existed? I do. I believed all of it. We had ex-government officials on the record, and besides, it was in the Times, our national paper of record. Well, it turns out that there was a hell of a lot more to the story than we knew — and a hell of a lot less — as the Post‘s documentary reveals. You’ll need to watch it yourself, but they show how that narrative was consciously constructed, leaving out the inconvenient fact that the government had also been paying, as part of the same program, for research into werewolves, poltergeists, and cryptozoology at a remote ranch owned by a rich friend and financial supporter of Democratic leader Sen. Harry Reid. Leslie Kean, one of the main promoters of the UFO story (and a co-author of the Times blockbuster), admits on camera that she left out the occult part of the program because she didn’t want it to discredit the UFO work, which she believes in.
The point here is not that UFOs do or do no exist. The point is that activists had an interest in creating a specific narrative, and it was a narrative that a lot of people — including your blog host — were eager to believe. Who doesn’t want to believe that there’s a secret X Files office at the Pentagon investigating and documenting the Truth That’s Out There™? It’s an awesome story! It confirms what a lot of us want to believe.
In that spirit, look at this:
This is just one example of a story that is everywhere in the liberal media, and left-wing social media. Today the Times uses it to go after Republicans and, in particular, Tucker Carlson — though buried deep in the story is this line:
Measuring the extent of Mr. Carlson’s influence in spreading replacement theory may be impossible.
Here is a clip from Media Matters for America, the left-wing activist organization, alleging that Tucker Carlson is an advocate of “white replacement” theory. They are quoting a 2021 Carlson segment about immigration. Transcript:
TUCKER CARLSON (GUEST): I’m laughing because this is one of about 10 stories that I know you have covered where the government shows preference to people who have shown absolute contempt for our customs, our laws, our system itself and they are being treated better than American citizens. Now, I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term “replacement,” if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.
If you change the population, you dilute the political power of the people who live there. So every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter. So I don’t understand what we don’t understand cause, I mean, everyone wants to make a racial issue out of it. Oh, you know, the white replacement theory? No, no, no. This is a voting right question. I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that? The power that I have as an American guaranteed at birth is one man, one vote, and they are diluting it. No, they are not allowed to do it. Why are we putting up with this?
It sounds to me like Tucker Carlson is complaining about mass migration bringing into the US a Democratic-friendly electorate that would weaken the voting power of conservative like himself. What’s wrong with that? Don’t liberals complain all the time about Republican moves that allegedly stand to weaken the voting power of blacks and other minorities? The only question about those complaints is whether or not they are accurate. It is perfectly legitimate for black people and other minorities to express concern over whether or not their political enemies are working to diminish their political power, and to dispossess them of their culture.
Here is another clip, with transcript, from Media Matters — again, a leftist activist group — denouncing Tucker Carlson as a racist for talking about immigration and dispossession. The transcript:
TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): You’ve got to ask yourself, as you watch the historic tragedy that is Joe Biden’s immigration policy, what’s the point of this?
Nothing about it is an accident, obviously. It’s intentional. Joe Biden did it on purpose, but why? Why would a president do this to his own country? No sane first-world nation opens its borders to the world.
Promising the poorest people on the planet that they can have endless free taxpayer funded services if they show up and break your laws? That’s not just stupid, it’s suicidal.
For generations, middle-class Americans have had access to the best healthcare in the world, but not anymore. That’s over for good. Our system cannot handle this many destitute newcomers, period. Imagine what hospitals are going to look like a year from now. How about schools?
What Joe Biden is doing now will change this country forever. So again, why is he doing it? There’s only one plausible answer. You’re not allowed to say it out loud, CNN will attack you if you do. The social media companies will shut you down. The Southern Poverty Law Center will call you dangerous, you could lose your bank account. The left has become completely unhinged and hysterical and that’s how you know it’s true. They only censor the true things.
An unrelenting stream of immigration. But why? Well, Joe Biden just said it, to change the racial mix of the country. That’s the reason, to reduce the political power of people whose ancestors lived here, and dramatically increase the proportion of Americans newly-arrived from the third world. And then Biden went further, he said that non-white DNA is the quote, “the source of our strength.” Imagine saying that. This is the language of eugenics, it’s horrifying. But there’s a reason Biden said it.
In political terms, this policy is called “the great replacement,” the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries. They brag about it all the time, but if you dare to say it’s happening they will scream at you with maximum hysteria.
How about some context: here is an archive site that presents the news report that preceded this Carson monologue. It was a report from the US-Mexico border, across which thousands of Haitian migrants were illegally trying to cross — and the Biden administration was welcoming them, facilitating mass releases of these migrants into the US population.
Is it racist to notice this? Is it racist to object to this? According to the Left, it is. And now that a lunatic white supremacist young man in New York has massacred black people, claiming to be defending his race against “replacement,” the left-wing media is attempting to silence all criticism of immigration by saying that those who notice must be in league with this killer.
Take a look at this 2015 clip from a White House event on combating terrorism. Appearing with a large group of Muslim clerics and leaders, then-Vice President Joe Biden mentions at this point that white people in America are going to be an “absolute minority” — and says that this is a good thing:
This is something that blows my mind about leftist white people today: they are so full of self-loathing that they cannot grasp that there is no people anywhere in the world, of any ethnic or religious background, that regards its own dispossession and diminishment of power as something to be welcomed! Only white North American and European liberals and progressives do this.
From that same press conference, here is Vice President Biden, in front of Islamic leaders, talking about how we need to engage those people who are “marginalized,” and therefore susceptible to being radicalized online. He was talking about isolated Muslims — and he was right about that! Watch:
But where is Joe Biden saying that we need to work on reaching out to young white men who are isolated and likely to be radicalized online, to make them feel like they are part of the community? He doesn’t exist. He doesn’t exist because the Left today — including the Democratic Party — has been taken over by an ideology that tells young white men that they are the problem with this country.
How many times over the years have I said in this space that the Left has no idea what kind of demons it is calling up by abandoning the Martin Luther King narrative on racial justice, in favor of racial essentialism? Payton Gendron, the accused mass shooter in Buffalo, is exactly one of those demons. No, I’m not saying “look what the Left made Payton Gendron do”. Payton Gendron is responsible for his own evil actions. And to some extent, so are the white supremacist websites that he frequented. But I have to tell you, I wonder what on earth the Left in this country expects, when it and all the institutions it controls — which is to say, every major institution in American life — has given itself over to a sick, racist ideology that demonizes white people — especially white heterosexual males — because of their unchosen identity (white, heterosexual, male)? You will get some fringe demons who pick up guns and commit racist acts of murder.
A country as big and as violent as the USA will always have fringe crazies who commit bigoted acts of murder. Nothing excuses it, ever. But Joe Biden was right in 2015 to say that we need to be working to keep people who are alienated, and on the margins, connected to society, so they won’t be at risk of radicalization. If you can get past the paywall, this 2015 profile by the Washington Post‘s Stephanie McCrummen, of the people that racist mass shooter Dylann Roof stayed with before he murdered black people in a South Carolina church, is a masterwork of reporting. Here’s how it starts:
The trailer where Dylann Roof found refuge is faded yellow with a thousand tiny dents. It is on the western edge of Columbia, S.C., along an unpaved road strewn with damp garbage, and it is where Roof briefly lived until the day he allegedly killed nine black church members at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
Now, a month after the June 17 shooting, the blinds are drawn at noon and the family that hosted Roof is inside, where the boom of gunfire and explosions is so loud the trailer vibrates.
“Ha ha. I just killed all them mothers,” says Justin Meek, 18, playing a video game in which blood and body parts fly across a 42-inch TV screen.
“You got enemy on the other side! Use a grenade!” says his brother Jacob, 15. “Kill yourself! Kill yourself!”
On a lopsided couch is Lindsey Fry, 19, flicking her tongue ring, eyes locked on a cracked cellphone for news about the shooting, which has lately included her boyfriend Joey, 21, the third Meek brother who lives in the trailer, which is in a town called Red Bank that the Meeks call Dead Bank.
“Wow,” she suddenly says and reads aloud what she is seeing on her phone: “The expanded scope of the investigation now includes people with whom Roof associated in the weeks before the June 17 shooting.”
She looks at Joey. Joey looks at his two brothers and his mother, Kim Konzny.
They are the people with whom Roof was associating in the weeks before the shooting, and this is the place he drifted into with little resistance, an American void where little is sacred and little is profane and the dominant reaction to life is what Joey does now, looking at Lindsey. He shrugs.
The piece is so good because it reveals what the headline calls “an American void,” a world of meaninglessness and drift, where disturbed young men can find meaning and purpose in hatred, including race hatred. This was a world that was invisible to me, and I live in a part of America where I don’t have to drive more than twenty minutes to find white people just like that. In the other direction, here is the world of black Baton Rouge, just a short drive north of where I sit writing this. This is an early video from L’il Boosie, a nationally famous rapper from my city:
How do young men of any race who grow up in these savage, violent cultures avoid turning into murderous haters? Right now in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, the murder rate is very high. It’s almost all black-on-black, especially involving young black men. Baton Rouge, which is 51 percent black, is one of the most deadly cities in America, in terms of homicide. Is this national news? No, it’s not. It’s not in part because it doesn’t fit a narrative preferred by the news media. In Buffalo, the NYT reports today:
“We don’t want to be protected after the fact,” said Marlene Brown, 58, who is Black. For more than a decade she has lived just blocks away from the Tops supermarket, where 10 people were killed. “We want to be protected and treated like we matter,” she said, “without it taking a white supremacist shooting up our community.”
She added: “Time and time again they’ve shown nobody cares about us here. It’s a pattern.”
I don’t know about the specifics of violence and culture in Buffalo, NY, but looking at data from the FBI, it is clear that if you are going to be a murder victim there, you are highly likely to be a black person. Though the race of the murderers is usually unknown, when they are known, the killers are more likely to be black. And given the general criminological principle that most murder victims know their killers, it’s not a stretch to surmise that the killers of these black people were other black people. Look at Buffalo, NY, data from the last four years it’s available:
Maybe the black woman quoted in the Times story is saying that the police only care about black people in Buffalo when a white supremacist comes along and starts killing blacks. But in 2020, Black Lives Matter marched through Buffalo to the mayor’s house, demanding that the city defund the police. Which is it? Which narrative does the Times and the people it quotes prefer? Is the problem not enough policing in Buffalo, or too much?
Our media, corporations, and cultural gatekeepers make an honest conversation about the complexities of race, violence, and crime impossible.
Poverty and cultural dislocation may not explain Gendron, the Buffalo shooter. According to the New York Post, he was from an intact middle-class family … but he was a loner at school, and had once been hospitalized for mental health issues. According to the early reporting, nobody around him knew how far down the hole into race hate he had gone. How was he radicalized? According to the manifesto he left:
Before I begin I will say that I was not born racist nor grew up to be racist. I simply became racist after I learned the truth. I started browsing 4chan in May 2020 after extreme boredom, remember this was during the outbreak of covid. I would normally browse /k/ because I’m a gun nut and /out/ because I love the outdoors and I eventually wound up on /pol/.
Was he radicalized in the same way that some young Muslims in America become radicalized: by evil men exploiting their loneliness, their fear, and their uncertainty? Was he radicalized in the same way that Helena Kerschner described herself (in this powerful essay) being radicalized into transgenderism: by being a lonely and alienated high school kid who found a community online, one that made her feel that she belonged the deeper she went into its radical ideology about body and gender? Elsewhere in the manifesto, Gendron says that he used to be a hardcore communist. Whatever else he is, this was a kid who was primed for extremism of some sort.
We know for a fact that the mental health of teenagers and young adults is in very bad shape these days. We also know that anything you could possibly hope to find is on the Internet. This would be a great time to discuss how the fabric of American society is fraying, leaving young people of all races, of both sexes, and so forth, vulnerable to radicalization online.
But we are not going to have that conversation, because the media gatekeepers have a Narrative to sell. If you are a black radical professor, you can speculate about carrying out mass violence against white people as necessary to achieve racial justice, and you can be rewarded with academic positions and accolades. It is perfectly clear to many of us that racism is a progressive virtue as long as it is practiced against white people. Judging people not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” as MLK put it, is so outdated, according to today’s Left.
Do you remember the New York City mass subway shooting? It happened on April 12, just over one month ago. The alleged shooter, Frank James, is a black nationalist who hated all white people, including Jews, and left a lengthy trail of hate messages online. Did we see a national outpouring of media examination of how the normalization of racialized discourse by progressive and mainstream institutions may have contributed to the alleged shooter’s mindset? Don’t be silly. It was just one of those things, you know. If people started to do that, the media would have jumped on it to tamp it down, in the same way it tells us all (reasonably enough!) not to connect Islamic terrorism to normative Islam.
The Frank James mass shooting — which, thank God, did not kill anybody — has more or less been memory-holed by the media. We are going to be talking about this Payton Gendron monster forever, though. They’re already trying to tie it to Tucker Carlson and to the Republican Party. Those lies don’t work anymore, though. Amazingly enough, many people are capable of understanding a news story like this without drawing spurious and hateful conclusions about entire classes of people. Me, I think Frank James probably would have done what he is accused of having done even without the broader racialized left-wing discourse about how demonic white people are. I’m not blaming Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo for the New York subway shooting. But we can see right now, all over the American media, the finger-pointing at Tucker Carlson, the GOP, and others on the Right.
One of the goals here is to force critical discussion about immigration to end. In the same way opponents of Hungarian PM Viktor Orban tried to silence his criticism of progressive oligarch George Soros by accusing him of anti-Semitism every time he brought up what Soros was actually doing in Hungary, the Left is trying to make all critical discussion of immigration illegitimate. This is how their soft totalitarian approach always works. If we don’t teach kindergartners that they might be genderfluid, you will have the blood of trans kids on your hands, you bigot!
We know this is a narrative-managing maneuver by the Left now. We know that you cannot trust the major papers, TV stations, or radio broadcasters to report fairly, and to attempt to understand the complexity of these horrific situations. We know that this is information warfare. Glenn Greenwald grasps what’s going on here:
Democratic politicians believe they should and do control the internet and dictate what can and can’t be said on it. https://t.co/1EFGlk2LZo
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 16, 2022
Read this important essay by Greenwald. Excerpts:
At a softball field in a Washington, DC suburb on June 14, 2017, a lone gunman used a rifle to indiscriminately spray bullets at members of the House GOP who had gathered for their usual Saturday morning practice for an upcoming charity game. The then-House Majority Whip, Rep. Steven Scalise (R-LA), was shot in the hip while standing on second base and almost died, spending six weeks in the hospital and undergoing multiple surgeries. Four other people were shot, including two members of the Capitol Police who were part of Scalise’s security detail, a GOP staffer, and a Tyson Foods lobbyist. “He was hunting us at that point,” Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) said of the shooter, who attempted to murder as many people as he could while standing with his rifle behind the dugout.
The shooter died after engaging the police in a shootout. He was James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old hard-core Democrat who — less than six months into the Trump presidency — had sought to kill GOP lawmakers based on his belief that Republicans were corrupt traitors, fascists, and Kremlin agents. The writings he left behind permitted little doubt that he was driven to kill by the relentless messaging he heard from his favorite cable host, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, and other virulently anti-Trump pundits, about the evils of the GOP. Indeed, immediately after arriving at the softball field, he asked several witnesses whether the people gathered “were Republicans or Democrats.”
A CNN examination of his life revealed that “Hodgkinson’s online presence was largely defined by his politics.” In particular, “his public Facebook posts date back to 2012 and are nearly all about his support for liberal politics.” He was particularly “passionate about tax hikes on the rich and universal health care.” NBC News explained that “when he got angry about politics, it was often directed against Republicans,” and acknowledged that “Hodgkinson said his favorite TV program was ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ on MSNBC.”
Indeed, his media diet was a non-stop barrage of vehement animosity toward Republicans: “His favorite television shows were listed as ‘Real Time with Bill Maher;’ ‘The Rachel Maddow Show;’ ‘Democracy Now!’ and other left-leaning programs.” On the Senate floor, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) divulged that Hodgkinson was an ardent supporter of his and had even “apparently volunteered” for his campaign. A Sanders supporter told The Washington Post that “he campaigned for Bernie Sanders with Hodgkinson in Iowa.”
Despite the fact that Hodgkinson was a fanatical fan of Maddow, Democracy Now host Amy Goodman, and Sanders, that the ideas and ideology motivating his shooting spree perfectly matched — and were likely shaped by — liberals of that cohort, and that the enemies whom he sought to kill were also the enemies of Maddow and her liberal comrades, nobody rational or decent sought to blame the MSNBC host, the Vermont Senator or anyone else whose political views matched Hodgkinson’s for the grotesque violence he unleashed. The reason for that is clear and indisputable: as strident and extremist as she is, Maddow has never once encouraged any of her followers to engage in violence to advance her ideology, nor has she even hinted that a mass murder of the Republican traitors, fascists and Kremlin agents about whom she rants on a nightly basis to millions of people is a just solution.
It would be madness to try to assign moral or political blame to them. If we were to create a framework in which prominent people were held responsible for any violence carried out in the name of an ideology they advocate, then nobody would be safe, given that all ideologies have their misfits, psychopaths, unhinged personality types, and extremists. And thus there was little to no attempt to hold Maddow or Sanders responsible for the violent acts of one of their most loyal adherents.
The same is true of the spate of mass shootings and killings by self-described black nationalists over the last several years. Back in 2017, the left-wing group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) warned of the “Return of the Violent Black Nationalist.” In one incident, “Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed Dallas police officers during a peaceful protest against police brutality, killing five officers and wounding nine others.” Then, “ten days later, Gavin Eugene Long shot six officers, killing three, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.” They shared the same ideology, one which drove their murderous spree:
Both Johnson and Long were reportedly motivated by their strong dislike of law enforcement, grievances against perceived white dominance, and the recent fatal police shootings of unarmed black men under questionable circumstances, specifically the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota . . .
Needless to say, the ideas that motivated these two black nationalists to murder multiple people, including police officers, is part of a core ideology that is commonly heard in mainstream media venues, expressed by many if not most of the nation’s most prominent liberals. Depicting the police as a white supremacist force eager to kill black people, “grievances against perceived white dominance,” and anger over “the white supremacism endemic in America’s system of governance from the country’s founding” are views that one routinely hears on MSNBC, CNN, from Democratic Party politicians, and in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Yet virtually nobody sought to blame Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Jamelle Bouie or New York Times op-ed writers for these shooting sprees. Indeed, no blame was assigned to anti-police liberal pundits whose view of American history is exactly the same as that of these two killers — even though they purposely sought to murder the same enemies whom those prominent liberals target. Nobody blamed those anti-police liberals for the same reason they did not blame Maddow and Sanders for Hodgkinson’s shooting spree: there is a fundamental and necessary distinction between people who use words to express ideas and demonize perceived enemies, and those who decide to go randomly and indiscriminately murder in the name of that ideology.
To be sure, there have been a large number of murders and other atrocities carried out in U.S. and the West generally in the name of right-wing ideologies, in the name of white supremacy, in the name of white nationalism. The difference, though, is glaring: when murders are carried out in the name of liberal ideology, there is a rational and restrained refusal to blame liberal pundits and politicians who advocate the ideology that animated those killings. Yet when killings are carried out in the name of right-wing ideologies despised by the corporate press and mainstream pundits (or ideologies that they falsely associate with conservatism), they instantly leap to lay blame at the feet of their conservative political opponents who, despite never having advocated or even implied the need for violence, are nonetheless accused of bearing guilt for the violence — often before anything is known about the killers or their motives.
In general, it is widely understood that liberal pundits and politicians are not to blame, at all, when murders are carried out in the name of the causes they support or against the enemies they routinely condemn. That is because, in such cases, we apply the rational framework that someone who does not advocate violence is not responsible for the violent acts of one’s followers and fans who kill in the name of that person’s ideas.
… But when a revolting murder spree is carried out in the name of right-wing ideas (or ideas perceived by the corporate press to be right-wing), everything changes — instantly and completely. In such cases, often before anything is known about the murderer — indeed, literally before the corpses are even removed from the ground where they lie — there is a coordinated effort to declare that anyone who holds any views in common with the murderer has “blood on their hands” and is essentially a co-conspirator in the massacre.
The attempt to blame Carlson for the Buffalo shootings depended entirely on one claim: Carlson has previously talked about and defended the view that immigration is a scheme to “replace” Americans, and this same view was central to Gendron’s ideology. Again, even if this were true, it would amount to nothing more than a claim than the shooter shared key views with Carlson and other conservative pundits — exactly as Hodgkinson shared core views with Maddow and Sanders, or the numerous murderers who killed in the name of black nationalism shared the same views on the police and American history as any number of MSNBC hosts and Democratic Party politicians, or as Pim Fortuyn’s killer shared core views with animal rights activists and defenders of Muslim equality (including me). But nobody is willing to apply such a framework consistently because it converts everyone with strong political views into murderers, or at least being guilty of inciting murder.
But all bets are off — all such principles or moral and logical reasoning are dispensed with — when an act of violence can be pinned on the political enemies of liberals. If a homicidal maniac kills an abortion doctor, then all peaceful pro-life activists are blamed. If an LGBT citizen is killed, then anyone who shares the views that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had until 2012 about marriage equality is blamed. If a police officer unjustifiably kills a black citizen, all police supporters or those who dissent from liberal orthodoxy on racial politics are decreed guilty. But liberals are never at fault when right-wing politicians are murdered, or police officers are hunted and gunned down by police opponents, or an anti-abortion group is targeted with firebombing and arson, as just happened in Wisconsin, or radical Muslims engage in random acts of violence. By definition, “moral reasoning” that is applied only in one direction has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with crass, exploitative opportunism.
Did you know that in his 180-page manifesto, Gendron described himself politically like this: “On the political compass I fall in the mild-moderate authoritarian left category, and I would prefer to be called a populist”? I know this thanks to Glenn Greenwald, who points out that this racist kid had no discernible, coherent ideology. Read the manifesto yourself: he also calls himself a “fascist,” and elsewhere “an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist national socialist,” and says that from ages 15 to 18, he was a hardcore communist. He rejects Christianity, despises conservatism, and says he got his radical ideas “mostly from the Internet.”
Gendron is a monster, plainly — but he has provided the media and left-wing institutional voices with something they can use to advance their narrative. Don’t fall for it. These are the same people who will not shut up about how evil “whiteness” is — and yet, they are shocked when some vicious, unhinged white kid surrenders himself to the demon of race hatred. The hypocrisy is galling.
There is a very, very important reason to think hard about this stuff. It’s identified by the political scientist Eric Kaufmann in his 2019 book Whiteshift, about the challenges ahead as the United States moves from a majority white country into one in which whites are a minority. In a 2019 Quillette article, Kaufmann wrote:
Whiteshift has a second, more immediate, connotation: the declining white share of the population in Western countries. Whites are already a minority in most major cities of North America. Together with New Zealand, North America is projected to be “majority minority” by 2050, with Western Europe and Australia following suit later in the century. This shift is replacing the self-confidence of white majorities with an existential insecurity channelled by the lightning rod of immigration. No one who has honestly analysed survey data on individuals—the gold standard for public opinion research—can deny that white majority concern over immigration is the main cause of the rise of the populist right in the West. This is primarily explained by concern over identity, not economic threat. I explore this data in considerable detail in the first part of my new book (from which this essay is adapted). Not everyone seeks to maintain connections to ancestors, homeland and tradition, but many voters do.
The loss of white ethno-cultural confidence manifests itself in other ways. Among the most important is a growing unwillingness to indulge the anti-white ideology of the cultural left. When whites were an over-whelming majority, empirically unsupported generalizations about whites could be brushed off as amusing and mischievous but ultimately harmless. As whites decline, fewer are willing to abide such attacks. At the same time, white decline emboldens the cultural left, with its dream of radical social transformation. The last time this blend of ethnic change and cultural contestation occurred, in fin-de-siècle America, the anti-WASP adversary culture was confined to a small circle of bohemian intellectuals. Today, the anti-majority adversary culture operates on a much larger scale, permeates major institutions and is transmitted to conservatives through social and right-wing media. This produces a growing culture-war polarization between increasingly insecure white conservatives and energized white liberals.
It’s important to have people criticizing their own group: What Daniel Bell termed the “adversary culture” spurs reform and creativity when it collides with the majority tradition. But what happens when the critics become dominant? In softer form, left-modernist ideology penetrated widely within the high culture and political institutions of Western society after the 1960s. This produced norms that prevented democratic discussion of questions of national identity and immigration. The deviantization of these issues in the name of anti-racism introduced a blockage in the democratic process, preventing the normal adjustment of political supply to political demand. Instead of reasonable trade-offs between those who, for example, wanted higher or lower levels of immigration, the subject was forced underground, building up pressure from those whose grievances were ignored by the main parties. This created a market opportunity which populist right entrepreneurs rushed in to fill.
Ethno-cultural change is occurring at a rapid rate at precisely the time the dominant ideology celebrates a multicultural vision of ever-increasing diversity. To hanker after homogeneity and stability is perceived as narrow-minded and racist by liberals. Yet diversity falls flat for many because we’re not all wired the same way. Right-wing populism, which champions the cultural interests of group-oriented whites, has halted and reversed the multicultural consensus which held sway between the 1960s and late 1990s. This is leading to a polarization between those who accept, and those who reject, the ideology of diversity. What’s needed is a new vision that gives conservative members of white majorities hope for their group’s future while permitting cosmopolitans the freedom to celebrate diversity.
Cosmopolitanism and what I term ethno-traditional nationalism are both valid worldviews, but each suits a different psychological type. Imposing either on the entire population is a recipe for discontent because value orientations stem from heredity and early life experiences. Attempts to re-educate conservative and order-seeking people into cosmopolitanism will, as the psychologist Karen Stenner notes, only generate resistance. Differences need to be respected. Whiteshift—the title of my book, as well as the word I use to describe my approach to the subject—isn’t just a prediction of how white identity will adapt to demographic change, but a positive vision that can draw the sting of right-wing populism and begin to bridge the “nationalist–globalist” divide that is upending Western politics.
We are entering a period of cultural instability in the West attendant on our passage between two relatively stable equilibria. The first equilibrium was based on white ethnic homogeneity, the second on what the prescient centrist writer Michael Lind calls “beige” ethnicity, i.e. a racially mixed majority group. In the middle lies a turbulent multicultural interregnum. We in the West are becoming less like homogeneous Iceland and more like homogeneous mixed-race Turkmenistan. But to get there, we’ll be passing through a phase where we’ll move closer to multicultural Guyana or Mauritius. The challenge is to enable conservative whites to see a future for themselves in whiteshift—the mixture of many non-whites into the white group through voluntary assimilation. (Unmixed whiteness is not about to disappear and may return in the long run, but this is getting ahead of the story, so I hope you’ll read on.)
Read the entire essay — and, if you like, buy the book. Kaufmann’s general point is that this demographic change is coming, and that if we are going to navigate it with minimal violence, we are going to have to have different ways of talking about it than what the Left is imposing on us. If we want to get through the next few decades with fewer Payton Gendrons and Frank Jameses, we need to fight back hard against the Left’s “whiteness” rhetoric, and return to old-fashioned Martin Luther King liberalism.
Last point: I slightly know a young man, now in his mid-twenties, who was a middle-class, megachurched white Evangelical. He tried to be a cool kid in his conservative Christian school, and went down the rabbit hole of racist edgelord-ism by self-radicalizing on white supremacist websites. He’s in a lot of legal trouble now, for a crime not related to race; the rest of his life is settled because of his actions. That said, I kind of know his parents, and know that there is, and was, nothing remotely racist about them. They were just average middle-class churchgoing Christians. But they had no idea what their son was up to online.
Do you? Whatever your race, religion, or whatever, how much do you know about what your young son or daughter is doing online? Maybe you should find out.