In January, when negotiations over the fate of 800,000 DACA recipients broke down, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blamed the impasse on the alleged racism of President Trump and his senior advisers.
“Last night the president put forth a plan,” Pelosi told the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Let me just say what I said last night, that plan is a campaign to make America white again.” This was not only an obvious lie, but a spectacularly brazen one, since Trump’s announced plan would provide a path to citizenship not only for the illegal aliens who had benefited from President Obama’s constitutionally suspect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, all of whom are nonwhite, but for a million additional illegals, mainly from Latin America, who are also mainly nonwhite.
Trump’s general immigration plan seeks to move to a merit-based system, which would give priority to immigrants who can contribute needed skills to the country and would have a reasonable chance of success once they arrived. Giving priority to English speakers would enhance the ability of new arrivals to assimilate and succeed. To oppose such a plan on the grounds Pelosi does, one would have to believe that nonwhite immigrants don’t have skills or don’t speak English. Anti-Trump reporter Jim Acosta made the latter insinuation on CNN. He said Trump wanted only immigrants from majority-white countries like “England and Australia.” In fact, English is the official language in more than 57 countries, including such nonwhite countries as Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Botswana, as well as Caribbean nations like Jamaica and Guyana.
Pelosi’s malicious accusation was even more disconnected from reality, since Trump has never proposed excluding or expelling populations based on race, which would be the only way to “make America white again” (whatever that might mean). Yet this denial of obvious facts in order to gin up a racial indictment of what otherwise would be seen as patriotic policies has become the ever-present theme of the Democrats’ attacks on Trump’s presidency. These attacks began with his first statement on immigration during the opening presidential primary debate. At that time, speaking specifically of people crossing the border illegally, Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best . . . . They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
This warning, however factual its basis, was ineptly put by a novice politician, but its meaning was clear to any fair-minded listener. When millions of people invade a country in defiance of its laws and without passing through a vetting and citizenship process, that is a threat to the nation and its citizens—regardless of the color or origin of the perpetrators. Yet this otherwise reasonable concern was immediately turned by Trump’s opponents into an alleged attack on Mexicans for being Mexican, and more pointedly on “people of color” for being different—both blatant lies.
Race is the Trump Card
After Trump’s election, Democrats adopted the same strategy in their “resistance” to his presidential executive order temporarily suspending travel from six terrorist states. The express purpose of the order was to provide time for a proper vetting system to be put in place to protect American citizens. The Democrats’ unscrupulous campaign to frame this policy as “anti-Muslim” and “anti-minority” included suborning left-wing appeals courts to ignore the president’s clear constitutional authority, and instead invoke his off-the-cuff campaign remarks to make the case that the order was racially biased.
In fact, the same six Muslim states targeted by Trump’s order had been included in a parallel Obama immigration ban without objection from any of Trump’s Democratic and Republican critics. It was true, as the resisters claimed, that all six states were majority Muslim. But it is also true that the majority of terrorist states are Muslim, and the vast majority of Muslim states that are not terrorist states were not included in Trump’s temporary ban. The clear justification for the policy was the inability or unwillingness of the six named governments to vet potential immigrants and travelers for terrorist affiliations and allegiances. Anti-Muslim or anti-minority considerations had nothing to do with the executive order, although this was the chief and only argument of the opposition to it.
The inevitable consequence of using a blanket standard like race to evaluate immigration policy is to eliminate any possibility of designing a policy that is rational or that protects the nation’s sovereignty. It also eliminates the possibility of designing a policy that serves the national interest, since America is built on the idea of individual accountability and individual freedom. Balkanizing its community into races and ethnicities renders individuals and their characteristics invisible or secondary at best. If race is the trump card, factors like the possession of skills, adherence to the law, economic viability, language compatibility, and allegiance to the constitutional founding, are rendered irrelevant in selecting new citizens, and thus in preserving the factors that have made America what is today.
The Democrats’ support for “sanctuary cities” and “sanctuary states” is the summary statement of this race-based attitude towards would-be citizens. It prevents consideration of even the most basic question of how large an influx of individuals the nation can absorb and support, while maintaining its culture of individual accountability and freedom. For progressives, the number of individuals coming into this country and their actual behaviors are irrelevant; all that matters is their ethnicity and race—and potential for voting left in future elections. These collectivities override the fundamental consideration of the law, and thus of the entire democratic enterprise.
Abusing the Language
The attacks by Democrats and leftists on federal law, on national borders, and on the idea of assimilation into an American culture can only be understood as attacks on the nation itself. Members of the Democrats’ “resistance” employ loaded phrases like “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” in referring to the White House and the supporters of secure borders and a rational immigration policy. The clear meaning of this abuse of language is that, in the eyes of the left, an American patriotism is illegitimate; American patriotism is equivalent to “white nationalism” and is racist.
The racial politics of the Left is part of a larger spectrum of “identity politics,” which has been embraced by the Democratic Party and is better understood as “cultural Marxism.” Cultural Marxists divide the population into racial, ethnic and gender groups and arrange them in a hierarchy of alleged oppression. This perverse and divisive view of American society was, in fact, the organizing principle of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, which justified her candidacy as ending the alleged inequality of women and the mythical wage-gender pay gap. Her opponents, she said, belonged in a “basket of deplorables,” which she identified as “racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, xenophobes—you name it.”
Following her defeat, her Democratic supporters formed #TheResistance to the incoming president, whom they denounced as a white nationalist, sexist, anti-Muslim racist. A “resistance” is hardly an appropriate posture for an opposition party in a democracy, where compromise and tolerance are foundational values. This war declared on the Trump presidency was launched with a Women’s March, billed as the largest protest ever, which presented itself as a movement to defend “oppressed” groups against the incoming “white supremacist” administration that Americans had just elected.
The Women’s March was headed by Linda Sarsour, an advocate of Islam’s misogynistic Sharia law and a vocal supporter of Islamist holy war—especially against the Jews of Israel. Sarsour told the assembled marchers, “I also remember that I live in a country that was founded on the extermination of indigenous people.” This was a declaration of hate for America, approved by the protesters and typical of their speakers. It was also a libel—the perfect expression of the Left’s oppressive chain of being, in which whites, males, heterosexuals and patriotic Americans are framed as genocidal enemies of “social justice” and human progress. It was a lie equal in brazenness to Pelosi’s claim that Trump’s agenda was to make America white again. There are, in fact, more “native Americans” alive today than there were when the first European settlers arrived. It never was, nor has been, the policy of the United States to exterminate indigenous people or any racial or ethnic group.
From “Sexism” to #MeToo
The ideological miasma that has overcome the Democratic Party and the Left, was crystallized in Hillary Clinton’s claim that “sexism” rather than her own incompetence, corrupt history, and inept campaign was responsible for her defeat. “Sexism” is a bastardized term that was coined by 1960s-era radicals in a calculated attempt to appropriate the moral authority of the civil rights movement through a false association with “racism.” Only a perverse reading of history and the social relations between the sexes could lead to this absurd attempt to link the treatment of African Americans and women. But for radicals, the conflation of the two is essential to their Marxist view of the world as a hierarchy of oppressors and oppressed, of America as the great Satan on the hierarchy’s crest.
The sinister implications of this terminology are apparent on a parsing of the coinage itself. Before there was “sexism,” there were adjectives to describe specific and concrete behaviors affecting the relations between men and women: “inappropriate,” “rude,” “boorish,” “prejudiced,” “offensive,” “molesting,” and criminal, as in “rape”—to name several. These adjectives compose a spectrum of behaviors with gradations from what is merely annoying to what is prosecutable. Differentiating between offensive behaviors makes it possible to judge individual actions and motives, and arrive at a morally just attitude towards them, along with possible remedies. But once these behaviors are subsumed under the general rubric sexism all such distinctions vanish. The focus is no longer on individual behaviors—which can involve both parties—but on an alleged generalized “oppression” of women by men.
This ideological framework—abstract and collectivist—eliminates individual nuance and distinction. In the right political context, it can criminalize merely boorish and inappropriate behaviors and invoke punishments that can be quite severe. In the hysterical atmosphere created by the #MeToo movement—a by-product of the Women’s March and the “movement” that produced it—mere accusations become tantamount to guilt with chilling results, and ominous implications for a country built on “due process,” and the defense of individual rights.
In the atmosphere fostered by oppression politics, a United States senator and former comedian, a lifelong leftist and champion of “women’s causes,” was forced to resign his seat because of on-camera pranks—which were obviously pranks—performed during his stage career. A pioneer public radio host of 40 years—another leftist and Hillary Clinton supporter—has been deprived of his program, banished from his station, and erased from its radio history because of an accusation—and only an accusation—of inappropriately touching a female colleague’s back. What is important is no longer the particulars of these cases, or the character of the individuals involved, but their collective identity as—white oppressor males—and the collective identity of their alleged victims, oppressed women.
Three Pillars of Totalitarianism
The totalitarian implications of this increasingly powerful ideological trend in the national culture have become pronounced enough to have alarmed some liberals, most notably the writer Andrew Sullivan. Observing that cultural Marxism is now the required creed of America’s liberal arts colleges, Sullivan warns, “When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based “social justice” movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well. If elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large. What matters most of all in these colleges—your membership in a group that is embedded in a hierarchy of oppression—will soon enough be what matters in the society as a whole.”
In America’s universities, which are the training grounds for America’s future leaders, the victory of the cultural Marxists is already complete. In Sullivan’s words, “The Enlightenment principles that formed the bedrock of the American experiment—untrammeled free speech, due process, individual (rather than group) rights—are now routinely understood as mere masks for “white male” power, code words for the oppression of women and nonwhites. Any differences in outcome for various groups must always be a function of “hate,” rather than a function of nature or choice or freedom or individual agency. And anyone who questions these assertions is obviously a white supremacist himself.”
There are three pillars of the totalitarian outlook. The first is its totalist agenda—the elimination of private space and the abandonment of the liberal idea that there should be limits to government authority. In its place, totalitarians insist that “the personal is political.” Since the hierarchy of oppression that inspires social justice warriors encompasses all social relationships between races and ethnicities, between men, women, and multiple politically correct genders, there is no area of social life that escapes political judgment and is protected from government intrusion. Already, in New York City—to take one municipality controlled by the political Left—there are 31 government designated genders, and fines for failing to recognize them.
The second pillar is the idea of the social construction of race, class, and gender. This anti-scientific idea that races and genders are socially created rather than biologically determined is already the unchallenged premise of virtually all academic courses relating to gender and race, and informs many of the planks of the official platform of the Democratic Party. Recognizing the role of biological factors in determining gender and race would require an adjustment to reality, whereas the goal of identity politics is revolutionary and “transformative.” Removing and/or suppressing the alleged creators of genders and races will make possible the social transformation whose goal is “social justice.” The alleged creators of genders and races are the designated villains of identity politics: patriarchal and racial oppressors (white supremacists) who employ these categories to marginalize, dehumanize and dominate vulnerable alleged victim groups.
The centrality of these victim groups is encapsulated in totalitarianism’s third pillar: objectification—the elimination of individual agency and accountability in favor of group identities and oppression status. This, of course, is the inevitable consequence of collectivist ideologies which make groups primary and remove from individuals their agencies as subjects. If there is inequality its source is an invisible hierarchy of oppression, never the inequalities and failures of individuals themselves. If homicide is the number one killer of young black males, whites must be responsible because whites allegedly control all the institutions and social structures that determine black outcomes—notwithstanding the fact that the same crime statistics plague municipalities run by blacks as those run by whites. What may go on in black communities to account for these and other appalling statistics—out of wedlock births, physical abuse by parents, drug trafficking, lax law enforcement policies instituted by liberal authorities—is rendered invisible by an ideology which regards race as the determining factor regardless of individual behaviors and failings. If women are “under-represented” in engineering positions at Google, this cannot be because of individual choices made by women—to think so is prima facie sexism—but must be the work of a patriarchal conspiracy, however invisible.
Freedom at Risk
While democracy and individual freedoms still prevail in America, the injustices perpetrated by these totalitarian ideas, which have caused so much misery in modern times, will be limited. But the totalitarian march has already resulted in a kind of civil war in our political life, although such violence as exists has been mainly verbal. But consider what happened when there were no democratic restraints and these ideas became the reigning ideology of a Marxist state in 1917:“We are not carrying out war against individuals,” explained a member of Lenin’s secret police about his government’s campaign against the kulaks, or land-owning peasants. “We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. We are not looking for evidence or witnesses to reveal deeds or words against the Soviet power. The first question we ask is—to what class does he belong, what are his origins, upbringing, education or profession? These questions define the fate of the accused. This is the essence of the Red Terror.”
Similar questions have already defined the fate of the accused in our country, and the frequency of such incidents should be a warning. Thankfully, despite the disturbing influence of identity politics in our schools, in the Democratic Party, and among growing number of political actors, we are still far away from a Red Terror. But as Ronald Reagan famously warned, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
The erosion of individual freedom and individual rights, and of the idea of individual agency and accountability, is well advanced. The policies of the Democratic Party on immigration, race, women and a host of critical issues are now shaped by a collectivist, identity politics mentality. We cannot be certain where this will lead, and we should be alarmed that it has gotten so far.