It takes little imagination at all to see how someone could hold racist views about black people in general and still have warm feelings toward Obama. The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. These reactions mirrored those of Trump voters. They are not so much arguments against a proposition as arguments that the proposition is offensive—or, if you prefer, politically incorrect. The same is true of the rejoinder that Democrats cannot hope to win the votes of people they have condemned as racist. This is not a refutation of the point, but an argument against stating it so plainly.
But the impetus here is not just ideological, but personal and commercial.
No one wants to think of his family, friends, lovers, or colleagues as racist. And no one wants to alienate potential subscribers, listeners, viewers, or fans, either. Yet nowhere did Clinton vow to use the power of the state to punish the constituencies voting for Trump, whose threats made his own rhetorical gestures toward pluralism risible. Political correctness is a vague term, perhaps best defined by the conservative scholar Samuel Goldman. What a society finds offensive is not a function of fact or truth, but of power.
It is no coincidence that Trump himself frequently uses the term to belittle what he sees as unnecessary restrictions on state force. But even as once-acceptable forms of bigotry have become unacceptable to express overtly, white Americans remain politically dominant enough to shape media coverage in a manner that minimizes obvious manifestations of prejudice, such as backing a racist candidate, as something else entirely.
follow The most transgressive political statement of the election, the one that violated strict societal norms by stating an inconvenient fact that few wanted to acknowledge, the most politically incorrect, was made by the candidate who lost. E ven before Trump , the Republican Party was moving toward an exclusivist nationalism that defined American identity in racial and religious terms, despite some efforts from its leadership to steer it in another direction. George W. These efforts led to caustic backlashes from the Republican rank and file, who defeated his immigration-reform legislation, which might have shifted the demographics of the Republican Party for a generation or more.
In the aftermath of their loss, Republican leaders tried again, only to meet with the same anti-immigrant backlash—one that would find an avatar in the person of the next Republican president. In , the political scientists Marisa Abrajano and Zoltan L. I think having the first African American president elected into the office You can't disentangle immigration without talking about race as well, so that dynamic brought to the forefront immigration and racial politics more broadly, and the kind of fear and anxiety that many voters had about the changing demographics and characteristics of the U.
In the meantime, more than a decade of war nationalism directed at jihadist groups has shaped Republican attitudes toward Muslims—from seeing them as potential Republican voters in the late s to viewing them as internal enemies currently. War nationalism always turns itself inward, but in the past, wars ended.
But the War on Terror is without end, and so that national consolidation has never occurred. Obama, as the target and inspiration of this resurgent wave of Republican anti-Muslim hostility, was ill-equipped to stem the tide. George Bush was forceful on the issue in the White House, even though he supported policies that fed it … There were no compelling voices on the Republican side to stop it, and so it just festered.
That anti-Muslim surge on the right also provided a way for some conservatives to rationalize hostility toward Barack Obama by displacing feelings about his race in favor of the belief that he was secretly Muslim—a group about which conservatives felt much more comfortable expressing outright animus. The scorched-earth Republican politics of the Obama era also helped block the path toward a more diverse, and therefore more tolerant, GOP.
In his book, Post-Racial or Most-Racial? That was not a foregone conclusion. Instead, white voters became convinced that they had elected Huey Newton. An agenda that included record deportations and targeted killings in Muslim countries abroad did little to stem the conspiracy theories. Birtherism is rightly remembered as a racist conspiracy theory, born of an inability to accept the legitimacy of the first black president. But it is more than that, and the insistence that it was a fringe belief undersells the fact that it was one of the most important political developments of the past decade.
Birtherism is a synthesis of the prejudice toward blacks, immigrants, and Muslims that swelled on the right during the Obama era: Obama was not merely black but also a foreigner, not just black and foreign but also a secret Muslim. Birtherism was not simply racism, but nationalism—a statement of values and a definition of who belongs in America. Birtherism, and then Trumpism, united all three rising strains of prejudice on the right in opposition to the man who had become the sum of their fears.
In this sense only, the Calamity Thesis is correct. H istory has a way of altering villains so that we can no longer see ourselves in them.
Sitting in his cell at Fort Warren years later, the rebels defeated and the Confederacy vanquished, Stephens had second thoughts. The real problem was the crooked media, which had taken him out of context. The same was true of the rest of the South, he wrote, which had no love for the institution of slavery. It served as a crucial text in the emerging alternate history of the Lost Cause, the mythology that the South had fought a principled battle for its own liberty and sovereignty and not, in President Ulysses S.
If a man who helped lead a nation founded to preserve the right to own black people as slaves could believe this lie, it is folly to think that anyone who has done anything short of that would have difficulty doing the same. That lie is the basis of our present trouble. It is an extremely complex lie. Most important, the overgrown branches of that complex lie have become manifest during nearly every surge in American nationalism, enabling its proponents to act with what they believe is a clear conscience.
That Southern society, like the planter aristocracy that preceded it, impoverished most blacks and whites alike, while concentrating wealth and power in the hands of a white elite. It lasted for decades, through both violence and the acquiescence of those who might have been expected to rise up against it. Americans tend to portray defenders of Jim Crow in cartoonish, Disney-villain terms. This creates a certain amount of distance, obscuring the reality that segregation enjoyed broad support among white people.
As the historian Jason Sokol recounts in his book There Goes My Everything , white Southerners fighting integration imagined themselves not as adhering to an oppressive ideology, but as resisting one. One letter out of many cited by Sokol, from a World War II veteran in , provides an illustrative example.
unexigastral.tk: American War Cinema and Media since Vietnam: Politics, Ideology , and Class (): Patricia Keeton, Peter Scheckner: Books. No other cinematic genre more sharply illustrates the contradictions of American society - notions about social class, politics, and socio-economic ideology - than .
Nor did many white Southerners accept that Jim Crow segregation was a fundamentally unjust arrangement. The formulation is surely familiar: She attested to her intimate and friendly interpersonal relationships with black people as a defense of a violent, kleptocratic system that denied them the same fundamental rights that she enjoyed. In fact, it was the subordinate position of black people that made peaceful relations possible. Like Stephens, who later denied the essence of the Confederacy as he himself had articulated it, the most-ardent defenders of Jim Crow later denied that the system had been rooted in any kind of malice or injustice.
He was responsible for the vicious beating of voting-rights activists in Selma. They thought it was in the best interest of both the races. I love white people.
I talked about the, the government of the, the United States and the Supreme Court. I talked about the Supreme Court usurpation of power.
T rumpism emerged from a haze of delusion, denial, pride, and cruelty—not as a historical anomaly, but as a profoundly American phenomenon. This explains both how tens of millions of white Americans could pull the lever for a candidate running on a racist platform and justify doing so, and why a predominantly white political class would search so desperately for an alternative explanation for what it had just seen.
To acknowledge the centrality of racial inequality to American democracy is to question its legitimacy—so it must be denied. It is not invincible. Its earlier iterations have been defeated before, and can be defeated now. Abraham Lincoln began the Civil War believing that former slaves would have to be transported to West Africa. Lyndon Johnson began his political career as a segregationist. Both came to realize that the question of black rights in America is not mere identity politics—not a peripheral matter, but the central, existential question of the republic.
Nothing is inevitable, people can change.
No one is irredeemable. But recognition precedes enlightenment. Nevertheless, a majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals.
That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront. Yet at its core, white nationalism has and always will be a hustle, a con, a fraud that cannot deliver the broad-based prosperity it promises, not even to most white people. Perhaps the most persuasive argument against Trumpist nationalism is not one its opponents can make in a way that his supporters will believe. Giving out your number may seem fairly innocuous, but it can have big consequences.
The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News.
What does this mean for those on the front lines? For most of the past two decades, American troops have been deployed all over the world—to about countries.
During that time, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have experienced combat, and a generation of officers have come of age dealing with the practical realities of war. They possess a deep well of knowledge and experience. For the past three years, these highly trained professionals have been commanded by Donald Trump. To get a sense of what serving Trump has been like, I interviewed officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees.
Among the officers I spoke with were four of the highest ranks—three or four stars—all recently retired. All but one served Trump directly; the other left the service shortly before Trump was inaugurated. Last Thursday, Donald Trump said something that, on its face, seemed inexplicably self-defeating.