May 21, 2008

The Ron Paul campaign, which crossed many ideological lines to draw together an inspiring coalition, was a great moment of hope for American politics. If all it did was to make a best-seller of a book that touts real conservative principles, the whole adventure might well have been worth it. I”€™m not sure if we”€™ve just been through a “€œGoldwater moment,”€ which helped crystallize a new and winning coalition that will someday sweep away the cynical hacks who now dominate the conservative movement. (Even if it does, remember that it took from 1964 to 1979 for Goldwater’s heirs to oust Rockefeller’s.)

And one of the lines the campaign danced around was race. The infamous newsletters, which the Libertinians over at Reason tried to turn into the Dreyfus Affair, have largely been explained. But they haven”€™t been quite explained away, because the issues underlying them still fester”€”as the debate over race on this site between Justin Raimondo and Marcus Epstein, and the recent attack by VDare on Lew Rockwell help make plain. The fact is that there are fundamental issues at stake here. It’s helpful to lay them out”€”and to do so in a way that excludes the genuine extremists, and points to a reasonable common ground.

To that end, let me lay out some cold, hard realities:

Paleocons preoccupied with race have a certain point. A country which once had a solid Euro-American majority, and enjoyed great stability by the very fact that it lacked large-scale racial conflict, is being Balkanized through mass immigration. This is the direct result of federal immigration policy, which Ted Kennedy helped rig to favor poor countries marked by large extended families. This promises a world of trouble down the road (perhaps not the “€œrivers of blood”€ warned of by Enoch Powell, but that remains to be seen). What’s more, I”€™d like to hear it explained to me why members of one ethnic group, any ethnic group”€”even those evil, despicable, radioactive subhumans known as white folks”€”should rejoice at being displaced, and reduced to minority status. As I once said to gasps of horror at a D.C. forum where I debated neocons, “€œBeing part of a minority kind of… sucks. Just ask a black person how he likes it. Why should I wish that fate on my own grandchildren?”€ Dead silence, as my name was crossed off the invitation list….

Because they have been marginalized from the centers of “€œdecent”€ debate, many paleocons have given in to the temptations that come with living on the fringe. They”€™ve adopted fringe ideas, unhealthy enthusiasms, bad intellectual habits, and many of the ugly attributes of racialists of other races. Funny as I think the idea is, the one thing I”€™d find more repulsive than the Congressional Black Caucus would be a Congressional White Caucus. Should we really envy the sad solidarity of skin that would lead a black attorney to somehow feel a kinship with O.J. Simpson, Tupac Shakur, or Jeremiah Wright? Do we want our daughters to go to Princeton and turn out like Mrs. Obama? Would it make us happier to go around calling each other “€œbrother?”€ Let’s all try it for a few weeks and see.

Among the unhealthy enthusiasms, I think, is the talk about supposed racial variations in IQ. I”€™ve read all the arguments about why it’s important to debunk “€œenvironmental”€ explanations of varying educational outcomes”€”to fight the false charge that “€œresidual racism”€ explains the different test scores achieved by varying groups. The IQ argument, some insist, could stem demands for still more affirmative action, and an ever more intrusive federal bureaucracy designed to frustrate the freedom of contract and freedom of association.

But I”€™m just not convinced. I think that in our post-Christian society, which cheerfully disposes of those humans whom it has dehumanized (tens of millions of fetuses, but I expect that others will be next), it might well be dangerous to throw around studies that attack even an exaggerated egalitarianism. People sense this”€”especially liberals, who are never far from offering free tubal ligations or euthanasia tablets. So it scares them, as it should. Please don”€™t convince me that it’s okay to send those people into internment camps. Please. Don”€™t.

Those of us who see equality before God as fundamental look at IQ tests and shrug, to ask instead, “€œAre those people in a State of Grace? If they have inborn debilities, what is our duty to them in charity?”€ Were this the standard response, such subjects would not be radioactive. As it stands, in our society, it’s positively uncivil to ordinary members of various ethnic groups to cite aggregate results of “€œobjective”€ tests which suggest that (by our current, neopagan standards) they are fundamentally less human, and expect them to receive such news with equanimity. It doesn”€™t help when people step up and seem to defend the likes of Margaret Sanger, who lobbied for (and got) laws in a dozen states that sterilized or castrated people who didn”€™t test well. We are already, in so many ways, reviving Nazi bioethics throughout the West (selective abortion, frozen embryos, stem cell research that amounts to cannibalism”€”the list goes on and on) that sometimes I wonder, “€œWhich side won World War II?”€ In fact, the high-tech vitalism which the Nazis paraded too openly went underground for a few decades, but now it reigns supreme.

The answer, as Justin Raimondo rightly asserts, to most of these racial conflicts lies in removing the U.S. government from the business of managing inequality and suppressing racially “€œimpure”€ thoughts. We once had a massive bureaucracy devoted to suppressing pornography, and a raft of laws shoring up the sanctity of the family”€”back when “€œfamilialism”€ was the consensus American ideology, as Allan Carlson argues. As that consensus deteriorated, it was replaced by another; every country needs a religion. (And like General Eisenhower, it usually doesn”€™t care which religion that is.) The civic religion of anti-racism rose up at precisely the same time that premarital chastity and marital fidelity were falling out of fashion.

The Civil Rights movement was the Great Awakening of this new religion, and when it came to power, its adherents changed the laws. Just as pornography moved from the fringes of society to the center, open expressions of racial intolerance slunk off to the same sort of fever swamps that once held the pimps and purveyors of fetish photographs. Restricted clubs disappeared, and “open marriages” flourished. The same posh sort of person who might once have taken his date to see Birth of Nation, now dragged her to see Deep Throat. Klan rallies were “out,” swingers’ parties were “in.” (There’s a nostalgic TV series debuting next season which celebrates that grim artifact of the 70s.) The word “€œabortion”€ was once an obscenity, while “€œnigger”€ was a word that a devout Catholic lady like Flannery O”€™Connor would use in the title of her short story.

As the government ceased to regulate porn and collect alimony from adulterers, it began to regulate racist speech and punish people for discriminatory hiring. Black people were much less likely to be treated with open contempt”€”and young girls began to face the routine expectation that they “€œput out,”€ and resort when necessary to “€œeasy”€ abortions. Sometimes, I think that the Kingdom of Hell decided to shift its resources from one kind of temptation to another”€”as if Screwtape had sent a memo to all his tempters, telling them to transfer their energies from the adrenal gland to the crotch.

The only answer to any of this is a modified libertarian one: In a secular society such as ours, which has no established church, the duty of the federal government is to maintain order, and defend individual rights. Period. And these rights must be narrowly defined, lest the government invent one “€œright”€ after another (Roe v. Wade’s “€œright to privacy,”€ anyone?), the better to bloat its bureaucracy and grasp more administrative power. As consistent libertarians rightly argue: You don”€™t really have a “€œright”€ to an absolutely unbiased decision by someone who’s hiring you or renting you an apartment. It may well be a personal sin, and it’s surely a bad business call, to deny a job or a rental to an otherwise qualified person because of his race. But it’s hardly the business of Washington, D.C., to monitor the moral lives of every citizen. Giving the government that power only encourages one group”€”or a coalition of groups”€”to use it against the others. Right now, as a white and heterosexual male, I am one of the only people in America not protected by anti-discrimination laws. Do you think that’s an accident?

Making the case against massive federal bureaucracies designed to monitor and control every hiring decision in America, and stop frightened homeowners from being cautious about people to whom they rent (in the face of all too real crime statistics) is both principled and politic. It can appeal across racial lines, precisely because it is not racially motivated. What has absolutely no future in America, because it shouldn”€™t, is a real identity politics for whites, which would happily employ a bloated federal government to enforce its own vision of society”€”if only it could get its pink, white-knuckled fingers around the whip.


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