Can the Right Escape Racism? White identity politics has been partially suppressed before. Here’s how it could happen again.

More from Ross Douthat on the problem of white nationalism/supremacism in US conservatism:

Last week I wrote a column that simultaneously argued that conservatism has a problem with white-nationalist infiltration and that liberalism, influenced by the revival of racial chauvinism in the Trump era, is increasingly tempted to smear mainstream conservatives as racist.

The response was varied, but a common critique from the left was that any defense of individual conservatives from the charge of racism is basically irrelevant to the underlying structural reality that the Trump era has exposed — which is that the American right’s coalition is founded on racism, endures because of racism and has no future as a morally decent force unless it is essentially refounded, its racist roots torn out.

One of the more temperate versions of this argument was offered by New York magazine’s Eric Levitz, taking on my own essay and a column by Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner calling for conservative institutions to make themselves inhospitable to white identity politics. Such calls are well and good, wrote Levitz, but they wildly understate the challenge:

“… racism has been fundamental to American conservatism, and the G.O.P. in particular, since the mid-20th century realignment of the parties — even as its purportedly defining tenets have proven to be negotiable, from small government to antagonism toward autocrats to reduced deficit spending. None of this precludes the existence of nonracist conservatives, to be sure. It just makes them some of the least influential people in their movement, and renders their claims to broader relevance akin to shouting into a void.”

Levitz goes on to catalog various conservative policies, from border detention camps to voter-ID laws, that reflect the deeper-than-Donald-Trump influence of racism on the right. He argues that the various conservative factions have consistently made their peace with racism and racist policies since Richard Nixon, not just since 2016. And he suggests that since “the Republican Party would collapse without support from racists,” there is probably no path to a nonracist G.O.P. that doesn’t involve the total defeat and total reconstruction of the party.

Levitz is right that there is considerably more racism on the right than Republican Party elites wanted to believe pre-Trump and that the elite has conspicuously failed to confront its more overt and toxic forms — which is part of how we ended up with a birther as the president of the United States. In the longer view, he’s also right that white identity politics has been important to the conservative coalition since the 1960s, when the strategic and policy choices that the Nixon-era Republican Party made — in effect, rallying voters who opposed the Great Society’s vision of racial redress — ensured that a lot of racially conservative and racist white voters would migrate into the G.O.P.

‘We won’t back down’: Young right-wing activists agitate across Europe for an idealized past – Canada – CBC News

Interesting profile of the white supremacist movement and key players in France, similar to the likes of Robert Spencer and the like in USA:

They are traditionalists with a YouTube channel, nostalgic nationalists who text and tweet.

Young, white and European, they call themselves Identitarians, right-wing activists agitating across the continent against immigration and Islam and for a future rooted deep in an idealized past.

“I’m a product of my time,” says Pierre Larti, a spokesman for Génération identitaire (GI), the French branch of the movement. “But I know the difference between what is good in this era and what isn’t.”

Larti is buff, squeaky clean and, at 27, already part of the old guard of the movement.

Issy stickering

Génération identitaire uses of range of strategies to get its message across, from Greenpeace-style shock tactics to postering and stickering in like-minded neighbourhoods. (Michelle Gagnon/CBC)

After a long day and a meeting that ran late — Larti works in HR at a yogurt factory — he travelled more than 50 kilometres to lead a low-tech, late-night postering and stickering campaign in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a suburb just outside Paris.

“I’ve lived in this multiethnic society and seen its ravages, the dangers it poses for us, for the French. We’ve become passive, too accepting,” Larti says.

“We accept the veil in the public square. We accept burkas. Little by little, we accept everything. We accept that France now has more than 2,500 mosques.

“We accept one or two attacks a year,” he pauses and then asserts: “I cannot accept that.”

Source: ‘We won’t back down’: Young right-wing activists agitate across Europe for an idealized past – Canada – CBC News

The Difference Between Racial Bias and White Supremacy | TIME

Always find John McWhorter’s pieces interesting and relevant, and his valid point that the left has to guard itself against the very same criticisms it makes of the right:

Among too many these days, the term “white supremacy” has become, of all things, a kind of hate speech.

Of course, the meaning of words and terms always changes and always has. “Audition” once referred to hearing and only gradually came to refer to hearing someone try out for a singing part on stage, upon which the term was extended to any kind of tryout at all. Like “white supremacy” has, terms have a way of coming to refer to less extreme manifestations of what they first referred to—”terrible” once meant truly horrific and now can be used about getting stuck in traffic.

But words can be more than words. The N-word, the F-word referring to gay men and the C-word referring to an anatomical part are slurs, tools for injury, not just dictionary terms. We also all understand that a word or term or reference can be a dogwhistle. “Law and order” can have a racialized meaning, for example.

The term “dogwhistle” is even an example, in that we typically use it in reference to the right wing. However, white supremacy is now a dogwhistle itself. A leftist contingent is now charging any white person who seriously questions a position associated with people of color as a white supremacist. The idea is that if you go against a certain orthodoxy, then it isn’t only that you disagree, but that you also wish white people were still in charge, that you want people of color to sit down and shut up.

This is hasty and unfair. David Duke is, indeed, a white supremacist. The alt-right is, indeed, white supremacist. For one, they openly say so. Are there some whites who are more codedly white supremacist, even if they don’t quite know it? One assumes so—but the rhetorical brush is being applied much too broadly. After all, if whites accept anything a person of color states, is this not a new form of condescension? These days, the term “white supremacy” is being used not as an argument but as a weapon.

“White supremacist” is a new way of saying “racist” while stepping around the steadily increasing awareness that that word, too, is being wielded in sloppy ways. Writing “white supremacist” is a way of making the reader jump, in the way that “prejudiced” and “racist” once were. What handier way of driving your critique home than implying that your target would have broken bread with the Confederacy, stood at the school doors at the behest of Orville Faubus, or today would be happy to sip coffee at conferences with well-spoken alt-righters?

Of course, no one means precisely that—but educated people cannot lecture the world on how words must be used carefully, that we must understand words’ larger resonances, while casually throwing around a term that calls to mind black men hanging from trees. Never mind that it’s mean.

More to the point, the left sinks to the level of the right with its own dogwhistles, intolerance and exaggerations. This is not a call for the left to suppress their anger or lie down with the right as the lamb to their lion. Criticism is vital, and not always in emotionless tones. However, we must avoid the mores of the sandbox. Nietzsche’s point, that too often punishment is rooted in a desire for revenge rather than correction, is relevant.

If you make a claim that someone desires that white people be in charge and muzzle the opinions and opportunities of people of color, you should be able to prove it. No, the fact that psychological tests reveal subtle racial biases in whites does not justify calling any white person’s questioning of the views of a person of color a white supremacist. That’s an athletic jump from the subtle to the stark, from the subliminal to the egregious.

It is tragic how ordinary that jump is becoming—it isn’t only the famous being paintballed this way. My Columbia colleague Mark Lilla has presented an argument that the extremes of identity politics should be pruned in favor of a class-based politics in order to further the goals of liberals and the left. Katherine Franke of the Columbia University law school has tarred him for this as, well, you can guess. This is the quintessence of linguistic violence.

To use “white supremacy” as a battering ram is, in the end, as uncivilized as anything offensive to liberals scrawled on a wall or spewed into a comments section. Criticism? Of course. Recreational abuse? One is to rise above it.

The Canadian roots of white supremacist Richard Spencer

Avery Haines of CityNews interviews white supremacist Spencer and research by Barbara Perry on white suprematism in Canada:

So what does Richard Spencer’s ideal world look like? “I hope that one day all Europeans can be united. That we could revive something like the Roman Empire. Having a state that is for us, that is always going to be for us. Jews have such a state. It’s called Israel. There are many Muslims who are attempting to build such a state, a caliphate. We really need to think of ourselves as a civilization and a people.”

Spencer says it was on a TTC bus, when he lived in Toronto, that he looked around and realized he was the only white person. “It’s not the kind of place I want to live. I don’t want my child or my grandchild to be in a situation where they feel alone, where they feel that everyone around them doesn’t trust them. Being a minority is very difficult. We have recognized this when we look at other minorities, and yet we, as white people, seem to want to become minorities in our own homeland. It’s a very odd thing.”

Profile pieces on Richard Spencer come under criticism for mentioning his looks and his charm. But, like many notorious leaders of the past, he possesses a disarming charisma that can normalize his beliefs.

Barbara Perry has conducted one of the only large-scale research papers on the white supremacist movement in Canada. She says Richard Spencer is the new-and-improved white supremacist, the kind who has a charm that is dangerous. “There is not much difference in the rhetoric or ideologies. The difference is how they present that in a way that appeals to more people and isn’t as frightening as the black-booted neo-Nazis. They carry that same thread of white nationalism, very often anti-Semitism, homophobia. The difference is they are couching that in a much more professional presentation.”

Perry’s research, conducted through the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, has identified more than 100 hate groups operating in Canada, most of them in Quebec and Ontario. But she says the strength of the movement isn’t from the size of the rally, but the online hits. “We saw much more online chatter leading up to and after the election. Newcomers [are asking] what are these people saying, what is the message they are sending, do you they have answers for why my life seems to have gone awry?”

Perry says the legitimizing of the alt-right south of the border has definitely migrated north. “It’s really facing us head-on now. It’s spilled over. It’s a porous border. Especially when we are talking about language and speech.” Perry believes it’s important to shine a light on these views and to talk about them. Her research students are doing workshops in schools right now to educate teens about right wing extremism. “The students are lapping it up. They are appalled and shocked but also very engaged and want to know what can they do.”

Richard Spencer and I Skype for about half an hour. He talks about how he wakes up in the morning feeling not hateful toward others, but hopeful for his “big dream.” He claims not to incite violence and believes it is the immigration policies of the U.S., U.K. and Canada that will lead to “blood and tears.” “I have no problem dealing with individuals,” he says. “But do we really trust each other? Do we really love one another? I am afraid the answer is no.”

I ask him what his mum and dad, who are somewhere in the house getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, think about his views. He pauses and says: “They think I’m a bit crazy, just like the rest of the world, right? They are okay with it, in the sense they are not going to reject me. I’m sure they, like the rest of the world, are saying, “Oh, what is Richard doing?”

Source: The Canadian roots of white supremacist Richard Spencer – Macleans.ca