|White Nationalism: A Symposium|
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 10, 2003
Carol M. Swain, a professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University, has just published her latest book, The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration. She argues that white nationalism is on the rise and offers many suggestions for defusing its appeal. Among other things, she recommends that her fellow African-Americans desist from supporting affirmative action and slavery reparations.
Is the end of race-based affirmative action a constructive step toward creating a better racial climate in America? If so, what does this mean for the current national black leadership and what direction its activism needs to take?
To discuss these and other questions connected to The Rise of White Nationalism and How to Defuse its Appeal, Frontpage Symposium has invited Carol Swain, the author of the book in question, Peter Brimelow, the editor of VDARE.COM and author of Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster; Ron Walters, a Distinguished Leadership Scholar and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, whose book White Nationalism, Black Interests. Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community will be published by Wayne State University Press in July 2003; and Jared Taylor, the editor of American Renaissance.
(1) How does white nationalism differ from old style white supremacy?
Swain: The new white nationalism is a reactionary movement led by well-educated, financially secure white intellectuals who have given up on integration. Its leaders have studied the mistakes of the Left and the far Right. To recruit more effectively among ordinary Americans some groups and individuals have dropped the offensive language and the regalia of the older racist right and instead they have updated and repackaged their messages of hate.
White nationalists are encouraging white Americans to adopt the interest group politics of racial and ethnic minorities. In making their case to ordinary white Americans, the leaders of the new white nationalism have appropriated the language of the left. Multiculturalism argues that all groups ought to be able to organize to celebrate their unique heritage, contributions to the world and genetic makeup. White nationalists argue that if identity politics is good for minorities, then it must also be good for whites. Civil rights rhetoric tells us that discrimination on account of race; gender or national origin is unconstitutional.
White nationalist leaders point out that white Americans are discriminated against by governmental policies, and that this is unfair and un-American. Whites should, therefore, band together to protect themselves from insensitive and illegal governmental policies. The old style white supremacy was kept in place by violence, intimidation, and the institutional mechanisms of the state. The primary goal of the new white nationalism is the preservation of white European culture and values. White nationalism, therefore, is a separatist movement, non-violent on its face, but retaining ties and linkages to more extremist groups that openly endorse ethnic cleansing.
Walters: The “new” white nationalism is not at all that presented by Carol Swain – which is the old-style fringe groups that practice black, Jewish, immigrant and government-hating. The new variety has transmigrated into institutions and behaviors of respectability where they reject associations with racism, a new language gives them cover and the media is mollified.
On the other hand, I generally agree with Dr. Swain’s rendition of the character of the transmigration of white nationalism into the mainstream. So forceful has been its entry that it has become for many the ideological center of American political culture and the new axis of the division between right and left politics.
As such, the public policy context of this transition must be explored because the complexity that it yields begins with a strong anti-black proposition as contained in anti-busing and anti-affirmative action positions among neo-conservative intellectuals in the 1970s and ends with civic policies of anti-big government, anti-spending or large tax-cuts, pro-guns, tough on crime and other notions that are utilized in a proxy debate about race.
Many of the resulting policies are not recognizable as racial referents, but the result of their implementation has had a daunting racial affect upon the
Brimelow: White nationalism differs from old style white supremacy in the way that nationalism differs from Nazism – or liberalism from Stalinism. Any political motive can be taken to extremes.
Taylor: Abraham Lincoln stated the classic case for white supremacy in his September 1858 debate with Stephen Douglas:
“[T]here is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be a position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
It is worth noting, however, that white supremacy was, for Lincoln, only a second-best solution. He understood very well that a legally hierarchical society that characterized one group as superior to the other was unjust. Hierarchy was nevertheless preferable to any attempt at political and social equality which, he believed, would be disastrous for whites.
Please note the phrase “while they do remain together” in the above quotation. Like many prominent Americans, he thought the only fair, long-term solution to the race problem was “colonization,” or voluntary expatriation of blacks. “The enterprise is a difficult one,” he wrote in 1857, “but ‘when there is a will there is a way;’ and what colonization needs most is a hearty will.” Thomas Jefferson was a strong proponent of colonization, as were James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, Stephen Douglas, William Seward, Francis Scott Key, Gen. Winfield Scott, and two Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, John Marshall and Roger Taney.
The basis for the early-American desire for separation (or hierarchy if separation was not possible) was the conviction that race is a significant part of individual and collective identity, that multi-racial societies are inherently unstable, and that whites and blacks therefore cannot live together without friction from which whites will suffer more greatly than blacks. These convictions are shared by all racially conscious whites today, and in this respect their thinking is identical to that of what the question describes as “old-style white supremacy.”
Today’s racially-conscious whites agree that separation is the only fair, long-term solution. Nevertheless, they part company with Lincoln in rejecting hierarchical race relations. In the past, whites have tried to square the circle by means of Jim Crow, segregation, apartheid, and pass laws but the inherent tensions of multi-racialism are simply too great to be contained.
A level of racial separation sufficient for most purposes could be achieved simply by recognizing rather than denying the obvious: that a preference for people of one’s own group is natural, normal, and healthy. From this would follow the abolition of all anti-discrimination laws, the reestablishment of neighborhood schools, and a thorough overhaul of immigration, which only increases racial diversity and the potential for conflict.
Swain: Mr. Taylor, what does the overhaul of immigration have to do with this? Your entire assessment of the racial situation in America is woefully inadequate. It ignores the role of social class and the fact that most Americans are not in favor of discrimination. Moreover, our personal choices of mates and living spaces need not be endorsements of racial separatism.
Taylor: To answer these questions in reverse order, a recognition that people are more comfortable and happy when they are with people of the same race is to recognize the folly of the entire “civil rights” enterprise. “Integration,” as it has been practised in the United States involves, for the most part, forcing whites to accept the presence of people whose company they do not desire. If Prof. Swain accepts that private actors–and this includes private employers and business owners, as well as residential associations–have the right to discriminate on the basis of race, then we must repeal the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Prof. Swain must not wriggle off the hook by saying she said only “living space” may be legitimately segregated. The same principles apply to “working space,” “playing space,” “shopping space,” “the space we see on TV,” and in fact to any space at all. I am saying our society should recognize the tribal nature of man rather than pretend we can rise above it.
This is why immigration is so important. Our color-blind immigration policy is based on the assumption that race is an illegitimate criterion for defining “living space” or any other space. But if race is a legitimate criterion, why should whites (or blacks) welcome the arrival of Asians and Hispanics, who are alien to us both? In any case, our polychrome but overwhelmingly non-white immigration stream is only creating infinite varieties of racial conflict to overlie and complicate the original black/white divide. Racial diversity is a terrible source of conflict and tension; it is not a strength.
Interlocutor: Mr. Taylor, sorry, but I am not sure what world you are living in. In the world I live in, I see many many people choosing to be friends with, to spend most of their time with, and to be lovers with, people of different races and cultures. I am one of those people. I am not saying that tribalism does not exist; of course it does. But not everyone lives according to the rules of tribalism as you paint them. Tribalism does not only surface along racial lines.
Swain: My earlier statement does not concede a recognition that MOST Americans are uncomfortable with members of other racial and ethnic groups. Instead, I strongly recognize the rights of individuals to choose whom they shall marry and where they shall live. Many of these personal decisions are driven by concerns about social class and religion, and not by a dislike or hatred of other groups.
Racial diversity becomes a source of great conflict when governments and institutions adopt policies that favor some groups over others. It remains the case that Americans overwhelmingly endorsed the noble principles of fairness and equality embedded in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Also, fortunately, most Americans accept the fact that a nation composed of immigrants can never be said to belong to any single racial group.
(2) Given our national emphasis on multiculturalism and identity politics, isn’t it reasonable for white Americans to want to join the celebration of group pride and group self-determination?
Swain: White identity politics may well be the next logical stage for identity politics in America. As long as racial and ethnic minorities push separatist agendas, we can expect white Americans, especially as they decline as a percentage of the population, to begin to behave like self-interested minorities.
White nationalists push identity politics as a way for disorganized whites to fight public and private initiatives said to favor minorities at the expense of more deserving white Americans. I firmly believe we have carried identity politics too far in this country. We need to stress our shared American values and move away from the hyphenated identities that divide Americans, while providing a compelling justification for whites to move in the same direction.
Brimelow: It’s inevitable that whites join the celebration of group pride and group self-determination. In a political culture like the U.S. today, groups that don’t organize get rolled. In fact, covertly, it’s already happened. The emerging Republican ascendancy in the last thirty years is really best explained as a form of “tipping” – whites left the Democratic Party as it became the party of minorities because they no longer felt comfortable there. (Ed Rubenstein and I have documented this at length e.g. in our 2001 Hudson Institute article “Swept Away” )
It was the white vote that won the Congress for the GOP this year. Of course, GOP leaders and propagandists don’t admit this. They apparently genuinely believe their success is all because of the universal appeal of the capital gains tax cut etc. etc. That’s why they think they can abandon Trent Lott – they don’t realize the signal it sends to their base.
Swain: I would agree that the Republican Party has firmly established itself as the white man’s party. Senator Trent Lott, no doubt, represents the views of many Americans who have given up on integration or never supported it in the first place. If Republicans fail to distinguish themselves from Democrats on immigration reform, affirmative action, and other social issues, it will leave their base with literally no place to go. These are legitimate policy areas where bold and creative thinking is needed. However, the Republican Party seems more interested in expansion than principle.
Walters: At least for the moment, the treatment of Trent Lott gives some hope that, at least at the level of public embarrassment, the leaders of the Republican party and many of their constituents have no stomach for an open identification with white nationalism.
Moreover, in order to fix it, they are toying with a repair to liberal policies such as bringing up the hate crimes bill or encouraging the Bush administration to support the retention of Affirmative Action in the Michigan cases before the Supreme Court.
I say “for the moment” because deep in the recesses of the Conservative movement we have discovered recesses that hold racist sentiments, individuals and policies and in that respect, it has been interesting to see conservative activists attempt to separate themselves from the cover they have given to this poison. In any case, the only credible and convincing way they can do this is not rhetorical, but to propose substantive correctives in the form of policies that relieve the damage done to blacks by conservatives in the past two decades.
Brimelow: Translated in American, this means the GOP has been mau-maued into attacking the interests of its base.
Taylor: The word “racism,” as Mr. Walters uses it, appears to mean nothing more than any opinion about race with which he disagrees. If it is “racist” to prefer the company of people of one’s race, to prefer the culture created by one’s race, and to want one’s race to survive and flourish, then virtually everyone of every color is “racist,” and the term has no useful meaning.
Whites, both liberal and conservative, have worked consistently *against* their own racial interests by permitting immigration by millions of non-whites who invariably set up pressure groups to promote their own interests at the expense of whites. People like Mr. Walters then suggest it is “racist” for whites to resist affirmative-action racial preferences that discriminate against whites in favor of non-whites, including recent immigrants!
Swain: Unless we take this as an opportunity to have a serious debate about race, nothing lasting will come from the Trent Lott debacle.
Taylor: Identity politics have not arisen because of some kind of “national emphasis.” They reflect the tribal nature of man. Until only a few decades ago, whites practised identity politics of the kind common among non-whites, and this was reflected in segregation, anti-miscegenation laws, and an immigration policy designed to keep the country majority-white. What we call the “civil rights movement” was a historically unprecedented attempt to dismantle racial consciousness for all Americans in the hope of building a society in which race did not matter.
That is what whites, at any rate, thought was the ultimate goal of the movement, and many tried very hard to rid themselves of any sentiment of racial solidarity. They passed laws outlawing freedom of association based on race, they forcibly integrated schools, they opened the country to millions of non-white immigrants, and even instituted officially-sanctioned policies of racial discrimination against themselves under the euphemistic name of “affirmative action.” All this was an astonishing betrayal of their own interests, but whites tried to persuade themselves that losing their institutions, watching their neighborhoods and schools deteriorate, and condemning their grandchildren to minority status was somehow ennobling.
More and more whites now recognize that it was only they who have shed their racial consciousness, while every other racial group unabashedly advances its collective interests at the expense of whites. Whites have practised unilateral disarmament and are discovering the consequences. More and more whites understand this, but many still “celebrate diversity,” even though to do so is to celebrate their own declining numbers and influence.
Swain: We need a collective move away from identity politics. White nationalism is the baby that multiculturalism birthed. Our national interests as Americans are ill-served by racial double standards and the single-minded focus on racial politics. Hopefully, we can rise to a higher level.
Walters: Given the fact that whiteness is the cultural content of the entire society and group/race pride has become institutionalized and acts to validate its history and systemic domination in every conceivable way, there is little need for such a conscious display of group pride and group self-determination for most whites.
Swain: Many whites, especially younger ones, would disagree with Dr. Walter’s assessment. What they see are racial double standards that place them at a disadvantage. Why don’t we try to collectively move away from overt racial politics and focus on forging an American national identity? As long as racial and ethnic minorities push for identity politics, many whites will want to join.
Brimelow: If I understand this right, Ron is in effect saying that the U.S. is a true nation-state, i.e. the political expression of a particular people, the American whites. Historically, this was clearly the case. But it’s no longer true, because of massive non-traditional immigration and because sections of elite are in a “post-American,” pro-multicultural mode. So whites will inevitably organize as an interest group – if their interests are to be defended, which maybe Ron doesn’t want.
(3) Do white nationalist leaders champion some legitimate grievances that are not being addressed satisfactorily by mainstream political leaders?
Swain: Unfortunately, white nationalists leaders are exploiting some legitimate grievances and fears that trouble many Americans. These worries include concerns about racial preferences, liberal immigration policies, black-on-white violent crime rates, and job losses due to globalization and other shocks to the economy. In their search for votes, leaders of the major political parties have seemly abandoned addressing some of these grievances that resonate with ordinary, non-racist Americans.
Taylor: Let us not overlook some very important facts:
Only whites outside the “mainstream” are prepared to point out the obvious: there is a great deal of black-on-white violent crime and very little white-on-black crime.
“Affirmative action” is nothing more than officially sanctioned racial discrimination against whites.
“Affirmative action” for immigrants is an outrage that would be unthinkable if whites had even the faintest sense of racial solidarity.
Massive third-world immigration is transforming this country in countless undesirable ways.
It is an obvious double standard to encourage every non-white group to celebrate their heritage and achievements while condemning similar expressions by whites as “racism.”
Black and Hispanic failure is due largely to differences in ability rather than to “oppression” by whites.
Blaming the failures of non-whites on white “racism” only encourages non-whites to hate whites.
Walters: The display of open white nationalism has been practiced by those who feel aggrieved and consider it as a political resource with which to reclaim their open superiority in society.
Brimelow: “Mainstream political leaders” totally refuse to address immigration and affirmative action a.k.a. quotas. Yet these policies’ impact is enormous – using standard regulatory economics techniques, Leslie Spencer and I estimated the opportunity cost of quotas was 1.5% of GDP in a Forbes article in VDARE.COM back in 1993. (Still the only estimate, by the way – mainstream academe has a lot to answer for, too.) This impact falls heavily on whites, particularly blue collar workers. Eventually, someone is going to voice these grievances. Of course, they’ll probably be prosecuted for hate speech.
Swain: I would gladly exchange racial preferences for race neutral social welfare programs and more aggressive programs to fight discrimination. Affirmative action, as currently practised does little to help the poor and liberal immigration policies clearly harms Americans with low skills and low levels of education. Unfortunately, it will take a racial crisis before the government does anything about the situation. These grievances are already being voiced by the white nationalists leadership and others who see an injustice.
Walters: The argument that there is any such things as “quotas” that are enforceable – which nullifies the sense that they are indeed quotas, that are an effective aspect of any affirmative action regime is just boring, since there is little proof that it has had any widespread affect upon white privilege in any field.
For all of the noise that has been made about the existence of quotas in higher education, the presence of blacks have only recently – in the anti-affirmative action era – achieved anything like parity with the percentage of blacks in the general population in all institutions of higher education.
And since blacks in higher education are largely concentrated in community colleges, this leaves most of the major state and private institutions with very modest proportions of black students anywhere. The same may
be said for faculty.
And I would extend this argument to the labor force. In fact, the labor force participation rates of white males has fallen somewhat not because of blacks, but because of the entry of women into the labor force, such that blacks have become a substitute grievance for one that involves the pillow-mates of white males. They loathe to take on white females, but feel justified in accusing blacks of usurping their rightful social resources.
I think that in order to satisfy white males, they would have to have 100% of the positions in most fields or at least clear superiority. But that is the way that racism has worked historically in America.
Brimelow: This is why Fred Lynch called his book on white males and affirmative action “Invisible Victims” – the whole chattering class is in a state of flat-earth denial that it even exists. Yet we were easily able to show in 1992 the costs of complying with regulations alone exceeded $20 billion.”
Taylor: Mr. Walters appears to be saying whites should be delighted when a white college applicant with better test scores and better grades is denied admission so that a less-well-qualified black can be admitted. This is precisely what I have been talking about: non-whites identifying with their own race and pushing their interests at the expense of whites.
The under-representation of blacks in challenging or remunerative positions is not proof of “racism.” The evidence is overwhelming that intelligence averages of people of different races are not the same, and that there are genetic reasons for these differences. Anyone who doubts this should consult the work of Arthur Jensen, Linda Gottfredson, Robert Gordon, Philippe Rushton, David Rowe, Richard Lynn, Richard Plomin, Daniel Seligman, Mark Snyderman, Stanley Rothman, Michael Levin, John Baker or Charles Murray. It does no good to run screaming from the room when someone brings up racial differences in IQ. The scientific method leads to certain conclusions, which are impervious to ideology and which we ignore at our peril.
Interlocutor: Is focusing on racial differences in IQ a legitimate or intelligent way to proceed for a country that dedicates itself to freedom and equality for all? Whatever the realities are in this context, does information about racial differences in IQ help heal racial wounds and antagonisms? Is there really any need to focus on IQ differences if we work for a society where people are not judged according to color and everyone operates on an equal playing field?
Brimelow: I’m afraid this falls into the category of running “screaming from the room.” Suppose abolishing affirmative action results in a dramatic reduction of minorities in elite institutions. This will certainly be blamed on “systemic” i.e. unprovable racism. What alternative explanation can advocates of color-blindness offer? If they can’t offer an explanation, won’t quotas be reimposed?
Interlocutor: Good question Mr. Brimelow. This is obviously a complex problem. But all we can really do is steer in the right direction. The bottom line is that racial preferences are a form of discrimination that exacerbate many of the problems they are designed to cure. Still worse, they fertilize the growth of white nationalism.
Despite all of its imperfections, we simply must go in the direction of building a color-blind society and implementing race-neutral public policies. Surely this strategy creates more light at the end of the tunnel than focusing on racial differences in IQ and believing that some kind of new laws based on their findings could build anything other than a nightmare for all races involved.
Swain: Keep in mind that the IQ gap between the races has decreased from 15 points to about 10. Experts suspect that the remaining differences are due to environmental factors such as nutrition. Unfortunately, much racism remains in American society. I would gladly exchange all existing racial preference programs for a stronger set of measures to detect and combat hidden discrimination and for more aggressive programs designed to help all disadvantaged Americans improve their lots in life.
All in all, what we have in place today benefits elites of all races and it fails to meet the basic needs of most disadvantaged Americans. We cannot sustain racial preferences in a society as diverse as we are becoming and not expect unrest and turmoil. We need non-discrimination, outreach to the disadvantaged, and a more equitable systems for distributing opportunities.
(4) What do you see as the future of American race relations? Will we come together as a nation or become increasingly divided over issues of race?
Swain: I believe that we are increasingly at risk of unprecedented levels of racial conflict and turmoil because of conditions coming together at this point in history. These conditions include the continuing influx into the country of non-white immigrants and the prospect that America in the not-too-distant future will cease to be a white majority nation. Many Americans are worried about liberal immigration policies, the decline in high paying, low-skill industrial jobs, and globalization.
Census Bureau data show that all Americans have experienced a loss in real wages and that non-Hispanic whites have had the sharpest increase in poverty. Also, certain social, political, and economic conditions can spur rises in hate crimes against disfavored groups. I see a devil’s brew for future racial and social unrest. White nationalists stand ready to exploit the frustrations of ordinary white Americans. Another powerful source of future conflict comes from the rising expectations and demands of racial minorities for a greater share of the nation’s wealth and political power.
Walters: The future of American race relations will change, but it will come about through changes in racial and ethnic demographics and through the necessity of Americans to understand and honor the political, economic and cultural interdependence that exists that redefines America.
Brimelow: If mass non-traditional immigration continues, the country will increasingly polarize on the basis of race. The government will become increasingly authoritarian as it tries to repress the conflicts (see my answer to previous question). Eventually, the U.S. will break up.
If immigration is cut off and the assimilative process is allowed to work for a couple of generations, the races might gradually grope to a compromise, probably an unprincipled one that involves government subsidies in return for a degree of de facto mutual isolation. Plus, of course, there will be overlaps where the races mingle, but they will be relatively marginal. People who think we’ll all be beige in 2050 just can’t count.
Taylor: For decades, the Communists tried to build a society in which selfishness could be abolished, in which all would live “from each according to his ability to each according to his need.” This attempt ended in tyrannical failure because Communism was a misreading of human nature. The goal of multi-racialism and the doctrine that diversity is a strength are likewise misreadings of human nature. All around the world, diversity–be it of race, religion, language, tribe, or culture–is at the heart of every sustained blood-letting.
Race is a biological fact. It is the most prominent and intractable fault line in any society. The idea that racial diversity can work in America even though it has never worked anywhere ever is to assume that the United States has abolished the laws of human nature. To the extent that multi-racialism has worked here at all, it is due to the willingness of whites to sacrifice their own interests in order to build a country in which race is supposed to dwindle into insignificance.
Non-whites don’t even pretend they want to build such a society. They quite naturally want America to reflect their cultures, celebrate their heroes and holidays, and not those of whites. As whites begin to understand the dangers of the forces they have set in motion, more and more will brave the insults and begin to work for their entirely legitimate interests as a race.
Interlocutor: Just a second Mr. Taylor. We agree, I hope, that individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr., in terms of civil rights, desegregation, and equality before the law, can be considered as American heroes. For a long time in this country white racism victimized African-Americans and that racism needed to be counter-acted.
Taylor: Martin Luther King worked to advance the interests of blacks–not whites–by overthrowing a hierarchical society in order to establish “integration” and “equality.” He is not a hero to me any more than he would have been to Abraham Lincoln. Integration and “racial equality” cannot work because identity politics cannot be “defused,” as you put it. Society should not attempt to be color-blind because people are not color-blind. As I said before, I do not advocate a hierarchical society, but instead one that acknowledges the limited tribal nature of human loyalties. “Racial diversity” only brings tension and conflict. Stability comes with homogeneity.
Walters: I agree with the comments of Taylor that color-blindness is not only probably not possible, but that it is, from my perspective, not desirable. I am not fond of the prospect of losing the valuable contributions blacks have made to American society or the uniqueness of their culture. Otherwise, I disagree that “racial diversity” is the same thing as homogeneity, since the notion of hierarchy is not changed and no ethic of democracy founded on the notion of cultural equality takes it place.
Interlocutor: Mr. Taylor, it remains very ambiguous what society it is that you would like to create. With the kind of America that exists today, with all of its racial diversity and multiculturalism, the kind of America you seem to be dreaming of is an impossibility.
Yes, Mr. Taylor, Martin Luther King did work to advance the interests of blacks, and thank God that he did, because the “hierarchical society” you refer to entailed realities such as black people not being allowed to use certain public restrooms and to go to certain schools. And that was the bright side. The darker side entailed the reality of the KKK, lynchings and the tragedies of human beings such as Emit Till. Is it wise or noble to have a discussion on the rise of white nationalism in this country without considering these dreadful legacies of slavery? By trying to liberate his people from racial oppression, King also advanced the interests of whites, as well as the interests of all Americans. Because as long as this nation did not recognize every human being as equal before the law, those who were privileged were also being degraded.
In giving his life so that a person did not have to sit at the back of a bus because of the color of his skin, King certainly was, and is, a hero – for all Americans.
Having said that, I think what we all need to do at this stage in our history is to move toward an American identity and away from racial identity.
Brimelow: I knew Jared would stir things up! As a practical matter, this effort to make King a “hero – for all Americans” is just not working out. Here in rural New England, for example, the public schools have made him a more important figure than George Washington. My little boy has been drafted into Christmas pageant-type things about the evils of segregation since he was in kindergarten. As there are no blacks and no history of segregation in this area, the net effect is simply to inculcate vague white guilt of a sort that would drive David Horowitz nuts.
Ironically, not merely was there no segregation in this area, but it was a hotbed of abolitionism. The local farmboys formed a famous regiment that was shot to bits at Cold Harbor. My son certainly knows some of their descendants (none of this //Proposition Nation// nonsense here). Yet this story is never mentioned. I have never found a public school teacher who has heard of it. For these people, the King cult represents a species of historical dispossession.
I don’t think King can bear the symbolic weight our interlocutor wants – not merely because of his personal failings (adultery, plagiarism, fellow-travelling etc.) but also because he quite probably didn’t believe all that tactical color-blind rhetoric himself. That certainly is the argument of Michael Eric Dyson’s book I May Not Get There With You.
Interlocutor: I am not sure what is so complicated or objectionable about what I am saying in regards to King. I am not saying he is, or should be considered, a saint. I am well aware of his personal failings, and I personally do not agree with many of the political positions he held. How any of this negates the fact that, in the context of civil rights, he was a hero for fighting against the racial oppression of his people, is beyond me.
Again, the tragic reality of a human being such as Emit Till reflected not only the terrifying and inhuman suffering of black Americans at the hands of racist whites, but also the darkness that all of America was submerged in because of racism. That King put his life on the line to bring justice in this tragic area of American life I consider heroic.
That race-baiters such as Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton prostitute King’s name for their own racist and destructive agenda today is another matter.
In any case, Dr. Swain, would you like to quickly get the last word in here, since this symposium was created out of the appreciation for your new book?
Swain: Well thank you. I would like to summarize by saying that we should strive to promote an American national identity. Although we can never be totally color-blind as a society, we can adopt race neutral public policies. What we have in place today are a set of policies that pit different groups of Americans against each other. As a multiracial, multiethnic society, America has defied the odds for other countries because we are a nation where the majority of people profess to be God fearing individuals, who believe in a common creator, and a brotherhood of man. Racial preference programs are at odds with core Christian principles of universalism that stress the role of the autonomous individual, equal to every other human being in the eyes of God.
Interlocutor: Ok then. Thank you Prof. Swain, Prof. Walters, Peter Brimelow and Jared Taylor. It was a pleasure.