The New Antiracism Is the Old Racism

What will be the future of the mass hysteria spawned last summer? No one knows. 

But its destination, if unchecked, will be ethnic tensions and sectarian strife at best akin to those in Brazil and India—or at worst Lebanon, Syria, and Rwanda. 

Until just a few years ago, racial differences, according to polls, were more or less receding. Intermarriage between racial groups is at historic highs. 

But by 2014-2015, with the birth of Black Lives Matter, its courting by the Obama Administration, and the emergence of the electronic social media mob and cancel culture, such progress seems to have ended. We have ceased seeing race as increasingly incidental, rather than essential to who we are. 

The benchmarks of the Black Lives Matter and affiliated woke movements are overt racism, systemic untruth, and the hypocritical privilege of their elite architects.  

We are now well beyond the race-based set-asides of the last 50 years, predicated on the evolving concepts of proportional representation and disparate impact. These multitrillion-dollar endowed Great Society principles eventually mandated that admissions and hiring reflect the proportional ethnic and racial makeup of the population. 

All that is now ossified and considered not enough. In its place is a damnation of all things “white” with a new definition of diversity as simply all those, without any other affinities, who claim to be bound proudly together by being nonwhite.

Antiracist Racism

Indeed, it is startling how abruptly our frenzied elites have renounced assimilation (a word now banned by the Biden Administration in matters related to immigration). Integration is also passé‚ at least for those not rich.

Ironies abound. Recently, in the state of Washington, something called the African American Reach and Teach Health Ministry (AARTH) adjudicated vaccination appointments on the basis of race only. I suppose if a 75-year-old indigent white widow showed up, she would be turned away on the basis of her “unearned privilege”—or the organizers say could be put on a “standby list”?

Black intellectuals now use the stereotypical language of the old Jim Crow segregationists. Some vie in an apparent contest to see which woke trailblazer can be crowned the most overt racist antiracist. 

So Elie Mystal writing in the Nation lectures the country that “White people haven’t improved; I’ve just been able to limit my exposure to them.” Would Mystal like to explain the consequences for the country at large, if everyone followed his own example and “limited their exposure” to racial groups that they felt “haven’t improved”? To “improve” whites, would Mystal advise genetic reengineering or more mundane mandatory reeducation camps? 

Damon Young, a senior editor of The Root and an occasional New York Times contributor, adds, “Whiteness is a public health crisis. It shortens life expediencies, it pollutes air, it constricts equilibrium, it devastates forests, it melts ice caps, it sparks (and funds) wars, it flattens dialects, it infests consciousnesses, and it kills people”  

Note the telltale verb “infests.” 

Substitute “Jewishness” for “whiteness,” and it would not be inflammatory to say that Young’s piece would have been normal fare for Der Stürmer circa 1935. Obviously, if whiteness is destroying all aspects of natural and human life, then what should be done about such an infestation—other than destroying the existential toxin’s source?

Almost daily we read that requiring an ID to vote, in the manner of cashing a check, getting a vaccination, or boarding a flight, is white-perpetuated Jim Crow racism. The new farm bill will not allow strapped white farmers to apply for help. The city of Oakland will not extend aid to poor whites in a new pilot program. Note in the latter case there is no pretense of “white privilege” other than in minority-majority Oakland the absurd assumption that impoverished whites there are more privileged than poor nonwhites.

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), in late Robert Byrd racialist style, recently vowed to block confirmation of white nominees. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) urged street violence if the Derek Chauvin trial verdict did not fit her preconceived ideas of the proper convictions. Millions of Americans now listen to their children and grandchildren come home, as if they were released from Manchurian Candidate camps, as they recite their teachers’ Medieval puppet-show versions of evil white people creating a toxic America—that millions of non-white people in the world strangely seek to immigrate to.


No movement can exist for long when it is based on utter untruth. The New York Times’ crackpot “1619 Project” could not convince any sane person to redefine the founding of the United States—not politically, not structurally, not militarily, not socially. And it didn’t even try.

Lincoln was not an evil racist, but willing to wage a civil war to destroy slavery even at the slaughter of nearly 700,000 Americans. The framers included the three-fifths clause in the Constitution not to perpetuate slavery, but as a desperate compromise to avoid a civil war with slave states or an utter disunion of the colonies at their founding—while still not fully rewarding the dehumanization of slavery by letting it be used to enhance the South’s political power. 

Any unarmed suspect shot by the police warrants a thorough investigation and, where proper, legal consequences for any convicted police offender. But Black Lives Matter has told the country that unarmed blacks are being murdered systematically by police, in an environment of racial hatred perpetuated by whites. 

In 2019 the leftwing Washington Post suggested that 13 unarmed African Americans had been fatally shot in confrontations with police. That figure is proportionally double the black percentage of the population, but less than the percentage of blacks arrested each year. 

Data is often warped for political reasons. But in a country where 6,000-7,000 African Americans are fatally shot each year by other African Americans, in cities where often the mayors, the district attorneys, and the chiefs of police are African American, it is not a sustainable proposition to swear black America’s existential threats come from police harvesting of innocent young African Americans—not when families are disintegrating, drug use is normative, fathers are absent, crime is spiking, schools are corrupt, and no one is offering any help other than the failed policies of the last 60 years.

If one peruses the FBI data on those arrested for “hate crimes,” one does not find evidence of a toxic and deadly white majority preying on “the Other.” Whites are proportionally underrepresented as a group in committing such racially motivated violent crimes. Blacks, in contrast, are overrepresented. They commit them at about double their rate of their percentages in the population. 

The media systematically has warped the news cycle to inflame racial tensions and to fuel progressive agendas that suffocate without the oxygen of hysteria. From NBC’s editing of George Zimmerman’s 911 call and the Ferguson lie of “Hands up, don’t shoot!,” to editing out the knife in the hands of Ma’Khia Bryant, who was poised to stab her target, we live in a woke wonderland. 

The woke hyped the first few hours (and sometimes days and weeks) of the Duke Lacrosse hoax, the Covington kids hoax, and the Jussie Smollett hoax. Whether wokeism cares whether an unarmed suspect is lethally shot by the police tragically depends on the race of the shooter and victim.  

So we knew within minutes the name and saw the photo of the officer who presumably accidentally lethally shot Daunte Wright. Fine. She is now charged with a serious crime. But we still don’t who intentionally shot unarmed Ashli Babbitt at the Capitol on January 6. We were told for weeks that officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by alt-Right Trump supporters, until he wasn’t, and the media could no longer hide that he had died of natural causes a day after the Capitol assault. A recent BLM protest in Minnesota over the lethal police shooting of an armed carjacker dissipated when it was suddenly announced the deceased was white. Is it All Lives Don’t Matter? Or support the police when they must use lethal force to protect the community? 

And on and on. 

Wealth and Privilege 

There are two class problems with the wokeists. Elite leftist minorities know little of the poor and middle-class rural whites whom they demonize—but in reality, do not patronize minorities and are more likely to ignore race entirely. And wealthy woke whites know little and care less about poor and lower-middle-class minorities whom they seem assiduously to avoid—and then virtue-signal their recompensatory guilt. 

Instead, the woke movement is largely fueled by the upper- and self-segregating classes—elites who have done well and are using race either to do even better by seeking mandatory concessions, or whites who sympathize with such agendas, or believe they will win exemption from career impairment by their virtue-signaling fides. They recall calculating czarist Russian aristocrats who felt Lenin was inevitable but still easily leveraged.

Is there some rule that says the most vocal “antiracists” of the last two months must live in homes worth over $10 million in value? When the Obamas venture out of their seaside Martha’s Vineyard spread, it is to lecture the country on racial unfairness and “Jim Crow” voting laws. When Oprah Winfrey compares slights with Meghan Markle, it is one $90 million estate holder chatting with another $14 million estate holder. When LeBron James with impunity threatens an officer on Twitter (“You’re next”), he does so from his own well-guarded $40 million Beverly Hills enclave.

None of these loud multimillionaire wokeists would defund their security details or would prefer not to live in their epicenters of “whiteness” and “white privilege.” They would no more prefer to live in an inner-city than they would in rural Kansas. 

We need a Petronius to capture the irony of self-labeled “Marxist” Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter. She is now a proud owner of a $1.4 million Topanga Canyon home, in a nearly all-white neighborhood—and busy using her Marxist market insights to create a mini-real-estate family empire. It’s funny how $100 million in corporate donations can turn Karl Marx into Milton Friedman.

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey believes his $18 million salary makes him as much an authority on the unfairness and inequity of Georgia’s voting laws as Delta CEO Ed Bastian (a mere $17 million a year) or Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at a mere pre-COVID $11 million a year. So Americans are to buy Coke, fly Delta, and watch baseball while being lectured on the need for equity by these privileged multimillionaires? That, too, is an unsustainable proposition. 

Those whites smeared for having privilege, usually do not have it; those who smear them, white and non-white, usually do. But the common denominator of wokeism is rank ignorance: ignorance that a multiracial democracy is a combustible, fragile structure, easy for the arsonist to destroy but hard for first responders to save; ignorance that the wealth fueling the thousands in the street, equity commissars, the human resources sleuths, and the professionally aggrieved is predicated on a meritocracy that ensures in a ruthless world Americans and their political and economic system can outperform the competition that has no illusions about the evils of tribalism; and ignorance that the vision of wokeness is not just racialist payback but the nihilism of the Balkans sort.  

And the odd thing is that these deluded appeasers of all this madness won’t even get to be eaten last.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

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