Whiteness is the crisis

A lot of times, when governments do horrible things, they can point to some kind of crisis. Maybe there is a war or insurgency going on. Maybe they are in the midst of an economic collapse. Maybe there is a major crime wave underway. In those kinds of circumstances, government officials feel entitled and even obligated to take extreme measures to get things back to normal. Sometimes they use the crisis to do something they wanted to to anyway, as with the Iraq War, but sometimes they are acting out of genuine fear and panic.

What we are seeing at the border today is not like that. The U.S. is in a state of undeclared war around the world, as it almost always is, but there is no substantial foreign threat to the U.S. mainland and no attempt to even claim that there is one. There are still economic problems, most notably wage stagnation, but unemployment is very low, the stock market is still booming, and the Global Financial Crisis is ten years in the rearview window. There is no evidence of an increase in attempted undocumented border crossings, nor of any crime wave associated with undocumented immigrants — just the opposite, in fact, as immigrants commit fewer crimes per capita than good old native-born Americans. Nor are we coming off a period of lax enforcement of immigration law, as Obama (shamefully, in my view) stepped up deportations to an extreme degree. And yet here we are, witnessing children, even infants, being torn from their parents for what amounts to a minor misdemeanor.

From any reasonable viewpoint, this policy is completely gratuitous cruelty. Yet from the unreasonable viewpoint of the racists in charge of our federal government there is an emergency underway: the U.S. is in danger of losing its white identity. Whites are in danger of losing their hegemony — in spite of the fact that this group of scam artists only took power as a result of a cruel technicality in the Electoral College, a racist institution created by the racist American Founders in part to make sure the slave states got the same benefit from the Three-Fifths compromise in presidential elections as in congressional representation, after an election in which racist voting restrictions suppressed non-white turnout. Despite these formidable advantages, they continue to cry fraud, as though the very fact that non-whites or naturalized citizens were able to vote at all is evidence of a criminal conspiracy.

In their own minds, they are under siege, and white supremacy under siege is responding as white supremacy always has, with a campaign of dehumanization and terror. It is no accident that separating children from their families was also a distinctive trait of the slave trade, because it helps to ensure that only whites enjoy the benefits of stable families and “legitimate” kinship structures — and therefore only white culture will be regarded as fully human and worthy of emulation. To most Americans, the spectacle of cruelly abducting children reflects badly on those doing it, but for the target audience of supporters, the fact that the victims would expose their children to such a thing only proves that they are unfit parents. And since these children presumably come from a Third World hellhole, providing them with TV and video games should impress them sufficiently to make them forget all about those worthless, careless parents. After all, the only reason they wanted to come to the U.S. was to freeload off all our cool stuff, right?

It is wrong to think that people first dehumanize the other and subsequently oppress them. In reality, it is the reverse — the very fact that they are being oppressed shows that they are subhuman, that they somehow deserve their punishment. Publicly treating people this way, refusing to apologize, openly gloating about it and gaslighting those who object — all this dehumanizes the victims and, by association, all those who are deemed to show the same racial characteristics. It transforms the members of a culture famous for its fierce family loyalties into reckless parents, the most hardworking and determined people on earth into lazy grifters trying to scam us with their false claims of victimhood — and then actually transforms them into victims, as if to say, “I’ll give you something to cry about!” And there’s nothing a certain segment of the American population hates more than a victim, no one who deserves to suffer more, in their view, than someone who presumes to stake a claim to our pity or compassion. From a million recliners across this nation, a million Thanksgiving uncles are yelling, “Fuck you, loser! Get a job, and some human rights!”

This is how people are treated when they flee the violence of their homeland. This is the fury rained down on those who dare to make a dangerous journey to do ill-paid work that is integral to our economy and that no American wants to do. This is how our illegitimate rulers, installed in defiance of the popular will and hated by most Americans, treat people who are trying their best to provide for their families — by destroying their families. More than that, they are simply failing to keep track of their children, as though it never occurred to them, as though they were dogs at the pound. And now those children are subject to arbitrary violence and rape in facilities run by people who chose to work for a government agency well-known for its racist culture.

The unelected president continues to claim that this is the Democrats’ fault, a claim that news agencies continue to treat as empirical and falsifiable. Yet what is Trump really saying when he says the Democrats are to blame? Does he really expect us to believe that they passed a law mandating his behavior, which we can read off the Congressional Record? Doubtless many of his followers are foolish and ignorant enough to believe that, but only because of the libidinal charge of the real message: the Democrats made us do this because they are trying to destroy white America. They are the party of minorities, the party who wants to welcome immigrants, the party that celebrates when they read of demographic shifts that will render whites a minority in their own goddamn countries, the party that — insult of insults! — subjected white America to the indignity of a black president for eight long and painful years, a president whom his successor has done everything in his power to portray as an illegal immigrant himself.

It doesn’t matter, from this perspective, that Obama — in a gambit every bit as cynical as Trump’s purported “strategy” to use the child-separation policy to force Democrats to the negotiating table — chose to give the right what they ostensibly wanted by deporting more immigrants than all previous presidents combined. They were never going to take yes for an answer from the abomination that causes desolation, the living embodiment of the end of white dominance. If only Obama really had been all that they feared, if only he had really struck at the sources of their power and destroyed them for good! But he insisted on being reasonable and kind and reconciling and allowed the entire country to be gerrymandered out from under him, so that the worst man on earth could destroy his legacy.

That is the great failing of Obama — that he didn’t realize that white supremacy was the state of emergency in which we continue to live, that he was incapable of bringing about the real state of emergency that would bring it to an end. And the failing of all of us is that we never forced him to do it, never forced him to recognize that the country was being stolen out from under us, that we never fully recognized that demographics will not save us from a dedicated white supremacist movement pushing every lever in the slavers’ Constitution to its uttermost limit.

So many of us still think that the law and the Constitution will save us, when it was written by them and for them. If revulsion at the presidency of the worst person in the world temporarily removes them from power, The Resistance will feel vindicated and happy that things are “back to normal.” And doubtless it will be better in many ways, or at least more tolerable and less embarrassing. But the ongoing emergency of a country founded on racist principles, a nation built on genocide and the unique historical crime of race-based chattel slavery for life, will continue to grind on, and it will be rude to talk about it. We need to look forward, not backward — because to look backward, to really look backward, is unbearable.

9 thoughts on “Whiteness is the crisis

  1. I thought when I was reading it that it needed to have a much wider audience; far better than the opinion and analytical pieces that I have been reading elsewhere recently. Hopefully I will be able to re-read it soon.

  2. I have been reading this blog pretty regularly since 2012. ( I was late to the party!) This is one of the most powerful things I have read. As has been stated, I wish this can find a bigger audience. Thanks for all you do!

  3. “From any reasonable viewpoint, this policy is completely gratuitous cruelty.” which is pretty much the point. Trump got nominated and then elected at least partly through the televised use of gratuitous cruelty (belittling other Republican candidates; mocking the disabled; stalking Kilary Clinton) in part because it plays well on television (maybe the only thing Neil Postman ever got wrong). Following all this from north of the border what I’m hearing more and more form what I take to be “the left” is that your current government (if not your entire constitution) is fundamentally illegitimate and I can only wonder: Where do you go from here?

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