Elsewhere on our site, Ken Masugi writes about Donald Trump’s impressive speech last week in Milwaukee which, in addition to addressing the important question of law and order, also did not flinch from the question of Republicans and race.
When Trump has not been accused actually of being a despicable racist, he’s accused instead of seeking deliberately to appeal to white racists with his campaign. But debating the merits of this charge begs a more important and relevant question: If those people are drawn in, what do they hear? What is Trump actually saying on matters of race and, if people heed what he says, will they be inclined to be more or less racist? I submit that racists (of all varieties) giving Trump a fair hearing will be inclined to see that their racism is less justified than they previously believed. They may even see that race–something that can’t be changed, in any event–is not the source of their troubles and, instead, find a more rational object at which they can direct their legitimate frustrations and correct them. In short, if they pay attention to what Trump has said in Milwaukee and elsewhere on the campaign trail, they may rethink their views. As I have argued on occasion, Trump has unconventional methods for getting people to reconsider fundamental questions.
A follow up to these questions is this: What has Hillary done to make racists less racist? Moreover, what is she doing to quell the various forms of racism coming from too many of her own supporters on the Left?
In addition to remembering that racists come in flavors other than vanilla, it important to remember that there exists more than one kind of vanilla. There is the ordinary variety, of course. And though the specter of this type of racist regularly is trotted out for public contempt and scorn, mainly to stir up fears about the party he is likely to support, he is a laughingstock and the butt of jokes. His ignorance is demonstrable. To the extent that he has any following at all, it has long been confined to the fringes. His sense of “superiority” is so clearly rooted in a real fear of his inferiority, insecurity, and social impotence that it is only worth fearing him when he can, with justice, lay claim to something that is an affront to his actual human dignity or rights.
Unfortunately, not in Trump, but in the Left–we find people happy to give a just claim to him and then to use him and his example as a cudgel against those who dare call the Left’s outrages outrageous.
But, there is also a more sophisticated and condescending type of white racist. This is the kind who thinks so little of non-whites and their capacity to be his equal in citizenship that he feels compelled to defer to them in everything. He does not do this to make some kind of cosmic adjustment to the scales of justice or because he feels the shame of past wrongs. He does it out of a sense of his own superiority and a firm belief that unassisted by his generosity of spirit, minorities could not compete. He believes that he is born so superior and privileged vis a vis other men, that he must make amends for this terrible whim of fate. He is a self-loathing but superior sonofabitch. He condescends and in his condescension feels even more superior as he is lifted up in status and power in return for wearing the hair shirt. He cares not for the good of those to whom he condescends, except insofar as they can make him feel benevolent and superior.
Let me ask you: Which kind of racist is more dangerous? The dumb racists or the clever ones?
And let me ask further: Where else could the dumb racists go? They are not sophisticated enough to keep up with these sophisticated racists of the Left. They are not going to be elevated to hero status for their self-loathing superiority. Naturally, they are drawn to Republican candidates who, at least, don’t (or didn’t used to) tell them they deserve to die. Were conservatives as concerned during the Romney race as some seem to be now about their presence on the Right? We renounced their views, but we did not spend inordinate time worrying about their influence. We dismissed their skewed understanding of the universe, but we did not dismiss their votes. Nor ought we to have done. Votes are votes and they all count.
See the first paragraph in this speech for an example of how Lincoln dealt mercifully but candidly with the ignorance of such voters. He did not renounce them. But if you read carefully, you will see that he also did not give any succor to their point of view. Indeed, he planted the seeds to replace it with a better crop. Of course, this has not prevented some leftist historians and intellectuals from asserting that the Republican party and Lincoln with it were racists. But no serious person on either side of the political divide takes those criticisms to heart because they are so demonstrably false.
If stupid racists on the right are in ascendancy today, I would submit that this is due mainly to the outrageous nature of today’s Left in terms of PC culture–to say nothing of how naked is their wish to commit cultural (not racial) suicide. These facts are so evident and so undeniable in their urgency today that old-style racists think they have found a vehicle in which they can take a ride to respectability. They’ve latched onto a real example of injustice and they are (understandably, from their point of view) going to do what they can to milk it. We should be careful about assigning blame when we wonder who is facilitating this.
The way to undermine this old kind of white racism is to take away the injustice of leftism and lead people away from the path of cultural suicide. Take away their claim to just anger. Then they will slink away when it becomes clear that America’s greatness and the greatness agenda is intended for all American citizens who choose to embrace it. As Trump put it in Milwaukee:
I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and hatred and oppression in all of its forms, and seek a new future of security, prosperity and opportunity – a future built on our common culture and values as one American people.
But what solution is there to the problem of sophisticated white racists on the left who fan the flames of anti-white racism in people of other colors for the sake of ruling them and owning their votes? People genuinely concerned about the dangers of racism ought to be more concerned about these racists than they are about these good ‘ole boys who will go back to their funny hat wearing circles when there is no longer anything legitimate for them to hang those hats or their hate upon.