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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Maintaining White Power in America

Maintaining White Power in America
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster: National Archives
Click for full-sized Image

It's reasonable to want immigration and border traffic to proceed in an orderly, safe, and legal manner, but whatever reasonable points might be made about this have long been lost in the din of anti-immigration hysteria. One might wonder what it is about immigration that would lead to such hysteria, but the reason soon presents itself once we realize that all the attention is directed south rather than north: that's where all the brown people are.

If anyone expresses concerns about Canadians taking away jobs from Americans, or smuggling al-Qaeda agents through the forests of the Northwest, they aren't getting a lot of attention from the anti-immigrant crowd and I don't think they've been interviewed by Lou Dobbs yet. Expressing concerns about the same problems along American's southern border with Mexico, however, will garner a lot of attention and perhaps some media interviews. Even if we could concede that the risks to the south were a little higher, and even given the fact that Canadians are far too boring (sorry, guys) to merit much media attention anyway, that still wouldn't explain the differences.

If we consider race as the key factor, though, it all becomes much easier to explain and understand — and it would also fit in with other developments, especially among so-called "thinkers" of the far-right. David Frum has expressed concerns about how the Republican Party may start losing elections because it isn't popular among non-whites — even though the GOP built its current power on appealing to white fear of non-whites. Gee, do you think the two might be related? It's not as though the GOP can start appealing to Black Pride or anything, so what are they supposed to do? Rig the elections? Oh, wait, they already do that.

How about keeping brown people from voting at all? Jonah Goldberg has that covered, arguing for imposing tests on people before they can vote. He can't be unaware of the fact that literacy tests used to be used to keep poor blacks from voting, even though many whites might not have done better, so he must expect his proposal to be similarly classified.

The larger problem, going beyond the implied racism, is that voting is the basic right that differentiates the citizens of a democracy from those under other political systems. Voting is what gives a citizen power and makes them sovereign. Without the power to vote, then, they are not sovereign. Under Goldberg's proposal, voting would be a privilege of the few, not a right of all, and thus the people would no longer be sovereign — and America would no longer really be a democracy.

The link between American nativism and this sort of fascism is not incidental. In The Anatomy of Fascism, Robert O. Paxton writes

It may be that the earliest phenomenon that can be functionally related to fascism is American: the Ku Klux Klan. Just after the Civil War, some former Confederate officers, fearing the vote given to African Americans in 1867 by the Radical Reconstructionists, set up a militia to restore an overturned social order. The Klan constituted an alternate civic authority, parallel to the legal state, which, in the eyes of the Klan's founders, no longer defended their community's legitimate interests.

By adopting a uniform (white robe and hood), as well as by their techiques of intimidation and their conviction that violence was justified in the cause of their group's destiny, the first version of the Klan in the defeated American South was arguably a remarkable preview of the way fascist movements were to function in interwar Europe. It should not be surprising, after all, that the most precocious democracies — the United States and France — should have generated precocious backlashes against democracy.

The current crop of nativists can be traced directly back to the militia movement of the 1980s and 90s. Like all fascist movements, they claim to represent the true (white) face of America, to be promoting the true American ideals, to want to live the true American way of life, to be fighting for the rights of all true Americans, etc. They accept similar conspiracy theories, hold similar views about non-Whites and non-Christians, are similarly patriarchal and militant, etc.

Not every belief and idea is identical, but much of it is and many of the same people are involved. Where do you think they all went, to Canada? Maybe that's not such a bad idea...they want to deport brown people south of the border, but why don't we just deport them north? There's lots of empty space up there, right? Let them argue with the ultra-nationalists in Russia over which white power structure has the right to the Great White North.

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.