In all of the U.S., a nation of well over 300 million people, there are perhaps fewer than 10,000 actual white supremacists. Language, however, creates confusion here. People reflexively equate white nationalism with racism and white supremacy, as if it were not possible for a white person to be a nationalist without subscribing to these evils. The underlying bias against whites is evident from the fact that nobody thinks in this way about, say, Israeli nationalists or Chinese nationalists. It is only in the case of white people in the West that nationalism is necessarily bad.
However many of them there are, white supremacists are marginal figures who have no political power. The same can’t be said of the cultural left, of course. It dominates academia, the media, Hollywood, and, more and more, the government.
And yet, judging by the pseudo-scholarship that comes out of the rotten academy, and by the paranoid tripe published by magazines like The Atlantic and The New Republic, you might think that white supremacy were an inescapable pestilence. Barricade the doors and board up the windows! Get on your knees and pray to God! Still, whiteness will find you, making you sick, sick unto death.
Given this constant resentment toward white people, it is a wonder that there are not more white supremacists. Last year, at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a variety of white racists and white supremacists as well as mere white patriots turned out to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park. In the clash with counterprotesters more than thirty people were injured. One person died.
As usual, the mainstream media’s coverage was biased. The simplistic story was that the rallygoers did all the wrongdoing, with the counterprotesters being blameless victims. After the exhaustive report by Timothy Heaphy of the Hunton & Williams law firm, however, it now seems clear that, as President Trump said of the events, there was in fact blame on “many sides”: the Charlottesville Police, the Virginia State Police, the Charlottesville City Council, attorneys from the city and state, and, of course, the rallygoers and counterprotesters themselves.
“People were injured in violent confrontations that could have been but were not prevented by police,” Heaphy writes. “Some of the individuals who committed those violent acts escaped detection due to police inability or unwillingness to pursue them.”
Indeed, rallygoers, counterprotesters, and observers all allege that the police stood by and watched while fights broke out in front of them.
The police also failed to keep rallygoers and counterprotesters separated.
According to Heaphy, several police officers claim Charlottesville police chief Al Thomas Jr. told them: “Let them fight for a little. It will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly.”
Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, died when a car drove into a group of counterprotesters. In Heaphy’s words, that was “the most tragic manifestation of the failure to protect public safety.”
And now it’s time to get ready for Charlottesville part 2, because Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of Unite the Right, has planned a white civil rights rally for Aug. 10–12 in Lafayette Park, near the White House. I emailed him this week to ask about the purpose of Unite the Right and of the upcoming rally. Says Kessler:
My purpose in holding the new rally is primarily to defy the will of Antifa and the Charlottesville government that using coordinated violence, doxing and harassment lawsuits to shut down 1st amendment civil liberties is a strategy that works.
I would also like to assert that white people have a right to advocate for their rights in a similar fashion to other groups without being stigmatized as “supremacists,” or attacked by violent masked vigilante groups. If it was wrong for the KKK to do it it’s also wrong for Antifa to do it.
I would also like to bring up information which has come to light, including in an investigative review by Charlottesville itself, that the violence that occurred was due to a police stand down, in coordination with Antifa, rather than by intent of the organizers themselves.
Last year’s rally was more about preserving the European-American portion of American history from the tyranny of political correctness and censorship. White Americans have a right to be proud of the legacy of our ancestors. We’ve contributed so much to global freedom and human rights. It’s a disservice, and frankly racist, to try and recontextualize the Founding Fathers and Southerners as contributing nothing to this world but slavery. Very few people actually owned slaves and we were among the first in the world to end that practice.
Unlike some others I’m not advocating for an ethnostate or what have you. I just feel that anti-white discrimination is being ignored and deserves to be confronted. We don’t live in the Jim Crow era. We live in an era of affirmative action, of minority college admission quotas, and in an atmosphere where our leaders can talk all day about how their policies help black and brown Americans, but never about how they help struggling European-Americans, even as they are projected to become an ever-dwindling minority population in their own countries.
I don’t know Kessler, but assuming he’s sincere, this seems to me a pretty reasonable statement. Still, given Kessler’s reputation, most people probably will not have much sympathy for his cause. From the videos I’ve seen, it’s plain that not everyone at Unite the Right was a white supremacist, although many were. I wasn’t there myself, and one thing I’ve learned from studying philosophy is that I cannot rightly make claims regarding matters about which I’m ignorant or cannot possibly be sure. Certainly, anyway, Kessler’s aims would be better perceived if these rallies weren’t full of racists and white supremacists.
And yet, even if they weren’t, I don’t think Kessler’s aims would be acceptable in the present climate. Kessler is quite right about the crude and indeed racist simplification of American history. In academia in particular, the notion that there is anything to the Founding Fathers and the South besides slavery is taboo in many circles. To be sure, Southern history is rather vexed on account of black slavery, but Kessler is correct, as every historian knows, that “very few people actually owned slaves and we were among the first in the world to end that practice.”
Kessler is also correct that to the dominant intellectual class, preserving a sense of pride in America, and in the West generally, is a kind of unforgivable sin. Not only that, today even the study of the Euro-Christian past is widely condemned. My friend Rachel Fulton Brown, a distinguished medievalist at the University of Chicago, has often been attacked for her efforts to keep her discipline coherent. For her many critics, the very act of studying medieval European history is a moral evil. That perspective is illustrated by the resentment-piper Eileen Joy, for whom medieval studies is a “safe space to be elitist, a safe space to be white, a safe space to be Christian, Eurocentric, misogynist.” For Joy and others in the field, medieval studies needs to become more “diverse.” It is too focused on Europe and Christianity—a criticism that is rather like maintaining that Chinese history is too focused on China and Confucianism.
Conceiving of one’s interests in terms of identity politics—whether of race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever—is inherently divisive and therefore to be avoided in a pluralist society. Once you advocate white interests, or black interests, or whatever, you will invariably come into conflict with other groups. Nevertheless, if other groups will not tolerate you, what choice do you have but to assert yourself by means of your own group? Pluralism having been ruled out, it’s either assertion or submission.
Moreover, it is true, as Kessler indicates, that for the cultural left anything less than white submission to the resentment narrative is an act of white supremacy. Universities and corporations have hiring quotas and preferential treatment practices that derive from resentment against whites. There is an insidious victim hierarchy, from which everyone but white men can benefit. Websites like Campus Reform and The College Fix regularly report on the casual, perfectly acceptable racism expressed against whites in academia. It has a huge influence on the general culture, as everything from the frequently racist New York Times to elementary-school curricula and magazines like Teen Vogue now evidence.