Left and Right use race as a way to divide America

Summary: Once again the tide of factionalism threaten to wash over America. Again race is the divider — given a new lease on life by the GOP’s great betrayal of its principles in the 1960s, a bomb now detonating as the Democrats’ abandon their long goal of a color-blind society in favor of a race-based one. The 1% watches and laughs. We are on a path to an ominous future, but can still step off it.

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The Founders feared “factionalism” above all the many risks to the Republic. Our generations might prove them right, as leaders of both Left and Right seek to divide us to gain power for themselves — stoking hatred in their communities of the evil genocidal others. Here is a look at some of America’s social arsonists.

Let’s start he analysis with “How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power” by Thomas Chatterton Williams, an op-ed in the NYT.

“Amazingly, despite his near godlike status within white liberal circles, in the collection’s finest essay, “The Case for Reparations,” originally published in The Atlantic in 2014, Mr. Coates worries that “today, progressives are loath to invoke white supremacy as an explanation for anything.” It is a jaw-dropping sentence if you take even a moment to consider the current discourse in progressive circles. …

“In ‘The First White President‘, Mr. Coates’s blistering jeremiad {he says that} “White tribalism haunts even more nuanced writers,” …training his sights on The New Yorker’s George Packer. This was an incredible accusation to which Mr. Packer was forced to respond. …For having the temerity to defend himself, Mr. Packer was accused on social media of ‘excusing racism’ and ‘whitesplaining.’ Such logic extends a disturbing trend in left-of-center public thinking: identity epistemology, or knowing-through-being, somewhere along the line became identity ethics, or morality-through-being. Accordingly, whiteness and wrongness have become interchangeable — the high ground is now accessible only by way of ‘allyship,’ which is to say silence and total repentance. …

 “The most shocking aspect of Mr. Coates’s wording here is the extent to which it mirrors ideas of race — specifically the specialness of whiteness — that white supremacist thinkers cherish.

“This, more than anything, is what is so unsettling about Mr. Coates’s recent writing and the tenor of the leftist ‘woke’ discourse he epitomizes. Though it is not at all morally equivalent, it is nonetheless in sync with the toxic premises of white supremacism. Both sides eagerly reduce people to abstract color categories, all the while feeding off of and legitimizing each other, while those of us searching for gray areas and common ground get devoured twice. Both sides mystify racial identity, interpreting it as something fixed, determinative and almost supernatural.

“For Mr. Coates, whiteness is a ‘talisman,’ an ‘amulet’ of ‘eldritch energies’ that explains all injustice; for the abysmal early-20th-century Italian fascist and racist icon Julius Evola, it was a ‘meta-biological force,’ a collective mind-spirit that justifies all inequality. In either case, whites are preordained to walk that special path. It is a dangerous vision of life we should refuse no matter who is doing the conjuring.

“…what ostensibly anti-racist thinkers like Mr. Coates have lost sight of, is the fact that so long as we fetishize race, we ensure that we will never be rid of the hierarchies it imposes. We will all be doomed to stalk our separate paths.”

Note how the extremes of both left and right often use the same language. For example, seeing themselves as threatened by genocide (threats existing only in their imaginations). As in this statement by Enoch from”Birth of a White Supremacist: Mike Enoch’s transformation from leftist contrarian to nationalist shock jock” by Andrew Marantz in The New Yorker (it’s a scary article).

“’We’re here to talk about white genocide, the deliberate and intentional displacement of the white race,’ he said. ‘Have we heard this conspiracy theory of white privilege? This is a concept that was brought to us by Jewish intellectuals, to undermine our confidence in ourselves.’”

Here is a powerful article about America sliding towards third-world levels of factionalism: “How Not to Marginalize the Alt-Right” by Dan McLaughliun at National Review.

“Coates is a figure of enormous cultural power, the most enthusiastically praised political writer in American history. He has used that position of power and privilege to promote a vision of America in which individuals mean nothing and race is everything …. Yet the irony of the fires he plays with continually escapes him. In his ‘amulet of whiteness‘ essay, Coates angrily accused Trump and his supporters of evaluating Obama’s policies solely through the lens of Obama’s race: …

“Whatever the merits of this charge as applied to Trump or some number of his supporters — and surely there are those who think this way — Coates is the worst possible messenger for this complaint, and he seems oblivious to his own role in promoting the very thing he denounces. Coates in his own writing makes clear that he himself always saw Obama as the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. In his most recent book, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, Coates literally refers to Barack Obama’s presidency as “We”; the color of Obama’s skin causes Coates to treat everything Obama did as the work of All Black People in general. …

“Having pushed this perspective into the political debate for eight years, Coates and {Jamelle} Bouie are now shocked, shocked that some of Obama’s political opponents might see things their way. The malignancy of the Coates/{Richard Spencer} ethos of irrepressible conflict between two monolithically antagonistic races as a pervasive element of American society is shown in Coates’s willingness to court violent revolution, ranging from his 2014 efforts to compare the Ferguson riots favorably to the violence that led America into war with Britain to telling Vox recently that he sees our society headed for something like the Terror of the French Revolution …

Even imagining that world, Coates makes ample space for tragedy. When he tries to describe the events that would erase America’s wealth gap, that would see the end of white supremacy, his thoughts flicker to the French Revolution, to the executions and the terror. ‘It’s very easy for me to see myself being contemporary with processes that might make for an equal world, more equality, and maybe the complete abolition of race as a construct, and being horrified by the process, maybe even attacking the process. I think these things don’t tend to happen peacefully. For Coates, even hope can be covered in blood.

“Even with his signature ‘fade to vague’ move at the end, what Coates is dog-whistling here is not hard to understand. If you were designing rhetoric to inflame people who feed on fever dreams of ‘white genocide,’ you could hardly aim your words more precisely than this. What Coates perhaps unintentionally pursues, and what Spencer eagerly seeks, is to ‘heighten the contradictions’: delegitimize the center-right and center-left (mainstream conservatives are always the first target), so that nothing remains but the extremes, who share the same philosophy and differ only in who gets the spoils after the bloodletting stops.”

Squabbling to keep the 1% in power

See the Leftists clash: read Ta-Nehsi Coates’ attack in “The First White President” vs . George Packer’s response at The Atlantic. See them squabbling to keep the Democrats a minority party, fueling factionalism so that the 1% can continues to rule. See how well they’ve succeeded (maps from the WaPo).

Red America

Blue America

The Foundation
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The Third Law of Psychohistory

Psychohistory is the the merging of psychology and history to better understand the past and predict the future (see Wikipedia). Its origins go back to 1919. It was popularized in Isaac Asimov’s 1951 science fiction novel Foundation.

It is an embryonic field, inchoate at best. When eventually these social scientists formulate laws, one of them might look something like this.

“For every action there is eventually an equal and opposite reaction.”

Which is why the Right’s embrace of racism in the 1960’s and the  Left’s focus on race (and gender) have set in motion a self-reinforcing cycle (positive re-enforcement). While useful for these factional leaders, they keep us divided and so weak — unable to successfully challenge the 1%.

This is unlike the politics of class, which could unite us against the 1% — forming an alliance like the progressive-populist which created the New Deal.

For More Information.

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also see all posts about the far-right, about the far-left, about racism, and especially these…

Our history can help us understand what we can do.

John Adams by David McCullough. The cover shows Adams at 80, not the fiery young man who helped drive the Revolution or the mature man who led America through some of its vulnerable early years.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Joe Meacham. The first populist, showing we can accomplish.

John Adams by David McCullough
Available at Amazon.
An American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
Available at Amazon

 

18 thoughts on “Left and Right use race as a way to divide America

  1. Once again, you have hit a nail on the head. While i am not quite sure exactly how the Republicans have embraced racism (I wouldn’t mind seeing that one), I do agree that the vilification of non preferred victims is doing great damage to our society.

    Blaming all those alive today for the ills of prior generations, the issue of “intersectionality” in the creation of a hierarchy of victimhood (e.g. a black woman transsexual beats a black woman beats a white woman beats a gay man, etc…) leaving the remnants of the population to be forced to wallow in their supposed “privilege.” Even an individual who feels no particular antipathy towards “people of color” is now tarnished with the proven bogus “implicit bias” by the progressive machinery. However people can wake up from this nightmare. Another great article- “an open letter to Ta Nehisi Coates” in Commentary magazine nicely describes much of what i have been feeling, and have believed, and is worth a read. it is similar in tone and concept to Williams article. (“An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates” by Jason D. Hill in Commentary)

    Sadly, if you say these things and are white, you are reduced to a characterization of “whitesplainin'” and if you are black you are reduced to being an Uncle Tom, or an Oreo, or worse (there are other similar posts out there by a number of black writers stating such). Martin Luther King, as well as luminaries such as Booker T Washington, wished for nothing more than to be treated like men, judged on their character not by the color of their skin. How far have we fallen from that height. B T Washington even warned about falling pray to “race baiters,” and yet those words have been ignored or forgotten. I cry for our nation, for the potential it has, and for what it was becoming- not perfect, but ever evolving, and now slowly revolving around the base of the toilet being flushed down the drain…

    1. And i apologize, but should add also a comment, with a qualification, on the divisiveness of the extreme right ( I hesitate to say “alt-right” since that term has been coopted to mean all the worst things, when it was merely at its origin, an attempt, like the tea party, to change the dialogue). The ultraright/neo-nazi/white supremacist movement also is abhorrent.

      Now the qualification: though i suspect that while there is still racism in our society, and perhaps these people feel that they have more free rein to run about shouting racist garbage, that the numbers of these folks is actually small, and has not changed much over the past decades. They are there, they have been there, and they will likely never go away. When the antifa groups realize that they are chasing a bogey-man, they will turn to the nearest other targets- conservatives and Jews (the one group that all extremists seem to be able to agree on). No wait, they have already started that. And sadly that is where we are at. Thanks for posting. Barry

    2. Barry,

      “on the divisiveness of the extreme right”

      Left and Right are somewhat symbiotic at this point, feeding off one another. Often with similar language and logic. It’s yet another example of the extremes against the middle that increasingly characterizes US politics. More about this at a later date.

      “and has not changed much over the past decades”

      I’d like to see survey data on that. My guess (guess) is that racism (overt or private) decreased from 1960 until very roughly 2010 — and is now bouncing back. I don’t know how far the infection has spread.

      Also — I edited your comments, adding paragraph breaks to make them easier for others to read. Big blocks of text are difficult to read on a screen.

    3. Barry,

      “While i am not quite sure exactly how the Republicans have embraced racism”

      The GOP made a conscious decision after the Civil Rights bills to attract those — esp in the South — that opposed it. The great upheaval followed — southern states flipped from Blue to Red. It didn’t just happen.

      “How far have we fallen from that height. B T Washington even warned about falling pray to “race baiters”

      Sad but true. The key point of this post, which I’ll discuss in a later post, is that this isn’t the working out of ideology. It’s about political power. Making race (and gender) the center of political movements is effective for the leaders of those movements. Not so much for their people. That’s the key to understanding factionalism, and one reason (perhaps the reason) the Founders hated and feared it.

      Yet this political reality is almost totally ignored in this debate. Which is yet another sign of the senescence of American politics.

    4. > and if you are black you are reduced to being an Uncle Tom, or an Oreo, or worse

      Yep, I’ve experienced this personally lately, but only online. These people have been stuck in their little internet thought bubbles for so long, liking the smell of their own farts, that they’ve forgotten that saying this is how you catch a beating.

       

    5. Rando,

      I used to read Coates. I lost interest in him when he called for reparations. I didn’t see the brilliance of this as a bid for political leadership. I saw only that it was a divisive dead-end for Black Americans. To their leaders the former is more important than the latter.

  2. Interesting. Now it is clear to me how today’s bizarre campus unrest, the BLM uprisings, and the NFL protests all link directly to the rhetoric of people such as Coates. Knowing this, it is almost impossible to give these activists any credit or respect whatsoever.

    1. Meissner,

      Left and Right, all political movements are led by people seeking opportunities. They exploit our weaknesses, pander to our fears, represent our dreams. The rise of Black separatists/exclusionists (not a great label) and white nationalists are somewhat symbiotic phenomena — their similarities showing the brotherhood of Americans.

      In other words, blame our weakness — not the leaders who exploit them (i.e., the inevitable workings of the Great Circle of Life, as in the Disney films).

  3. The common thread I’ve noticed is not the political “Left or Right”. Using that language focuses on the micro and not the macro. The bigger picture is the ingrained ideology of Progressivism deceptively prevalent in leaders of both political parties. In general, it doesn’t matter where you look for Progressives, the cornerstone of their ideology is to lie, cheat, and steal in order to achieve their purpose.

    If the idea of individualism were prominent and taught in our education systems, Progressives would lose political power. Without the tribalistic forces of separatism, the Progressive ideology could never succeed.

    1. yahtahei,

      “The common thread I’ve noticed is not the political “Left or Right”. Using that language focuses on the micro and not the macro”

      I don’t understand. Left – right is a one dimensional representation of the entire political spectrum (the political equivalent of factors like temperature in physics). Can’t get more “macro” then that.

      “The bigger picture is the ingrained ideology of Progressivism deceptively prevalent in leaders of both political parties.”

      I believe you are using a idiosyncratic definition of progressivism. Standard def used today is here. Like all political labels, it is somewhat amorphous –and changes over time. It is a movement on the Left.

      “Without the tribalistic forces of separatism, the Progressive ideology could never succeed.”

      That’s a unique definition of progressive. The focus on individuality is an aspect of progressive ideology today that distinguishes it from populism, which focuses more on group identity and solidarity (very much us vs. them).

  4. “That’s a unique definition of progressive. The focus on individuality is an aspect of progressive ideology today that distinguishes it from populism, which focuses more on group identity and solidarity (very much us vs. them)”

    I suggest reading “Progressive Democracy” by Herbert Croly.

    Expressing support for individuality in public is necessary for Progressives to increase their appeal. Being observant of the direction and outcomes of their policies is much more revealing. Centralized planning/control in one form or another is always their go-to solution on any issue. Which contradicts the concept of individualism.

    Regarding ‘Populism’:
    Def: support for the concerns of ordinary people.

    I suppose one could refer to populism as “group identity.”

    “Many observers have noted that populism is inherent to representative democracy; after all, do populists not juxtapose ‘the pure people’ against ‘the corrupt elite’?” – Cas Muddle, Political Scientist.

    I think in today’s vernacular the corrupt elite would be considered “the swamp”… :)

  5. Mr. Kummer,
    I will consider your suggestion, thank you. I will also consider one of the headings in your article above: “Our history can help us understand what we can do”

    Political Progressive history began in the late 1800’s and has been a prominent political philosophy since in the early 1900’s.

    1. yahtahei,

      ‘Political Progressive history began in the late 1800’s”

      But it does not mean the same today as it did in 1880. This is why people often say today’s liberals are not “real liberals”, or conservatives are not “real conservatives.” Political movements change their nature, just as words change their meaning (read an annotated “Hamlet”), and even species evolve. Life is change. There are few constants.

  6. Barry Newman, I had read the Jason Hill letter. At the time I was completely unfamiliar with him and Coates. What an inspiring rebuttal it was to this simple minded undereducated naturalized citizen! It struck such a chord.

    Regarding other comments on this post; as always, dammit, they resort to blaming the Joos.

    Lastly, Larry, your opening paragraph has been broadcasted.

    1. Longtrail,

      “they resort to blaming the Joos.”

      It’s a pathology in western civilization with even longer roots than racism against Africans. Oddly, I wonder if its origin is a historical accident — the early Christian Church’s need to differentiate itself from Jewish rebels against Rome.

      “Lastly, Larry, your opening paragraph has been broadcasted.”

      I don’t understand what that means.

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