“Racism” is among the most abused words in the English language, bandied about with reckless abandon, applied inappropriately to disparage and denigrate when intelligible argument fails. As Stanley Kurtz points out in his outstanding exposé Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, the Left has inflamed racial tensions as one would stoke the fires of an engine, channeling its energy toward their radical cause.
Be that as it may, conservatives must acknowledge that genuine racism remains an ugly reality. Unfortunately, some of it is espoused by professed conservatives. The combination of conservative political identification with racist assertions presents an effective threat to the right’s credibility in the political discourse. That threat must be answered.
One of the organizations imputing its racist views upon the whole of conservatism is the so-called Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) which rose out of the segregationist Citizen Councils among the Southern states during the Civil Rights era. The CCC is in the news this week, making hey over the casting of a black man in Marvel Studio’s forthcoming theatrical release Thor.
“It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves,” a post on the CCC’s website reads. “An upcoming movie, based on the comic book Thor, will give Norse mythology an insulting multi-cultural make-over. One of the Gods will be played by Hip Hop DJ Idris Elba.”
Elba is probably better known as the award-winning actor who starred in The Wire, American Gangster and a brief stint on The Office.
A story like this presents a commentator like yours truly with a rhetorical knot to untangle. There is an argument to be made that casting a black actor as a Norse god is rather silly, though no more so than the countless examples of white actors portraying minority characters throughout film history. Unfortunately, the motivation to make that argument is dwarfed by the necessity to renounce CCC as a horrific organization whose ideology is anything but conservative.
In this task, rather than reinvent the wheel, I defer to David Horowitz. In 2002, he addressed the subject of white nationalism in an argument with Jared Taylor, founder of the Euro-racialist group American Renaissance. Like most white nationalists, Taylor claimed that America’s heritage is uniquely European and threatened by the introduction of non-European ethnicities. Horowitz neatly dispensed with this notion.
Even insofar as Americans were European in origin, “European” is not an ethnicity, and the history of Europe is the history of wars between its ethnicities and its racial groups(…)
The fundamental mistake of the Euro-racialists is to confuse ethnicity and culture. How is race or ethnicity integral to the American idea or the American culture? Are not Francis Fukuyama, Dinesh D’Souza and Thomas Sowell quintessential Americans despite their Japanese, Indian and African lineage? The Jews have remained a people united by culture and — until recently — a language for 2,000 years; but as a people they embrace a world of ethnicities and races.
It is a culture that is crucial in shaping the American identity, not an ethnicity or race.
That is why conservatism is not a race-based ideology. What is to be conserved is a set of ideas, not an ethnic or racial identity.
My brand of conservatism is based on a belief in the fundamental truth in the idea of individualism; in the idea of rights that are derived from “Nature’s God” and therefore inalienable; in the conservative view of human nature and the philosophy of limited government that flows therefrom; and in the recognition that property rights are the proven foundation of all human liberties.
“Human” is all-encompassing. Indeed, by holding and expressing patently racist views, professing conservatives like the CCC demonstrate that they are not really conservative at all. The ideas upon which the American nation was founded, once applied, result in equal treatment under the law.
If Jefferson planted the seeds of this liberation, it is the American people who implemented it, through the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of lives in a civil war. The denigrators of Lincoln hate the fact that he resolved the schizophrenia of the American birth in favor of Jefferson’s idea that America was a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all man are created equal. Reactionaries like Taylor may want to take this country back to the pre-American social order that existed before 1776, but there are few Americans alive today who will follow them. Moreover, it is a gross historical misrepresentation to call this project “American,” as Taylor and his followers do.
In addition, holding to and espousing such misrepresentations fosters an abominable incest between reactionary racists and the radical left. Despite its status as a logical fallacy, ad hominem attack remains an effective rhetorical weapon. Groups like the CCC enable the left’s characterization of the right as racist, bolstering the rhetoric which advances their multicultural agenda.
Ironically, Taylor and the Euro-racialists have fallen into a trap set by the “multicultural” left. The left’s multicultural offensive is an attack on America’s national culture, not on its racial or ethnic composition. “Inclusion” and “diversity” are not the real agendas of the left — America has always honored both principles, however imperfect their implementation may have been. The idea of the melting pot is an American idea. The left, however, has never been interested in a “melting pot” that would assimilate diverse ethnicities into an American culture.
The left is hostile to the idea of assimilation. Its agenda is the deconstruction of America’s national identity and culture, of the American narrative of inclusion and freedom. Multiculturalism is not about the assimilation of minorities into the crucible of American freedom, it’s about their supposed liberation from American oppression. By accepting the left’s view of itself as a movement for diversity and inclusion, and responding with a call for Euro-centricity and exclusion, the Euro-racialists simply play into the hands of the multiculturalists.
In a further irony, by bolstering the left’s rhetoric, Euro-racialists help bring about the very conditions which create more racists. The multicultural agenda is inherently divisive, encouraging segregation rather than assimilation.
We are all prisoners of identity politics now. If there is going to be Black History Month and Chicano Studies then there should be White History Month and White Studies. If blacks and Mexicans are going to regard each other as brothers and the rest of us as ‘Anglos,’ then whites should regard each other as brothers and others as — well, … others. Within the multicultural framework set by the dominant liberalism in our civic culture, Taylor’s claim to a white place at the diversity table certainly makes sense. But there is another option and that is getting rid of the table altogether and going back to the good old American ideal of E Pluribus Unum — ‘out of many, one.’ Not just blacks and whites and Chicanos, but Americans.”
That is the only way to break the cycle of hatred perpetuated by the bizarre stealth alliance between the Euro-racialist and the radical leftist. Each must be properly understood and challenged within the political discourse. Read every word of David Horowitz’s takedown of Jared Taylor. Properly defining racism and distinguishing it from conservatism is essential to the restoration and preservation of the American idea.
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota’s North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.