Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Republican Mo Brooks' 'War on Whites' Fantasy: How Racism is Driving Political Polarization in the Age of Obama

I have a new piece over at Alternet that may be of interest to you. It is below the fold so any help with commenting on it, Tweeting, Facebook, or the like will be much appreciated.

I feel like I did some good work there, as I try to "connect the dots" about the relationship between political polarization and white racial attitudes in the Age of Obama--which in my opinion--has not been done enough outside of the community of social scientists who study such matters. It would be unfortunate if more eyes did not have an opportunity to read Conservatives and Liberals Can't Agree on What Constitutes Reality.

As I argue there, white supremacy, movement conservatism, Austerity, and polarization are not semi-related social forces: they are intimately connected. Moreover, the obstructionist and Austerity politics of the Tea Party GOP, when mated with white racial resentment, may help conservatives gain power in the near to long-term, while hurting the Common Good and further befouling America's political culture.

In my conclusion to Conservatives and Liberals Can't Agree on What Constitutes Reality, I observe how:
New research by Amy Krosch and David Amodio of New York University has suggested that as resources become scarcer, white Americans will become more racially tribalistic as a sense of racial group interest and threat is activated. This provides an incentive to continue with the politics of austerity because those policies could potentially convert white voters to the Republican Party. 
The Republican Party’s perverse, destructive and irresponsible behavior will both continue and increase in the future because said actions pay political dividends.

The Pew report on political polarization in American politics is a warning about a future where austerity, racism and political polarization have destabilized and shattered the centrist norms that once made American democracy a model system for the rest of the world.
These thoughts are troubling. Alas, we are still obligated to tell the truth, especially about uncomfortable matters.

It is easy to publicly channel upsetness about racism and impolitic racial attitudes in the post civil rights era. The more important and challenging task, one in which Americans move beyond "racism chasing", and a public theater of racial condemnation (that is really an opportunity for superficial group therapy), is connecting white racial animus to broader systemic and institutional organs of power.

As I have argued many times on WARN and elsewhere, the essential question on these matters should always be, "what are we really talking about? And of what broader phenomenon are it/they an example of?"

As someone far smarter than me once suggested: amateurs talk about tactics; professionals talk about logistics and strategy. On war and race, as well as other life matters, such wisdom still very much applies.

To point. Tea Party GOP sewer dweller white supremacist Alabama Republican United States Congressman Mo Brooks suggested on Monday of this week that:
"Well, this is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party," he said. "And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well, that’s not true, OK? And if you look at the polling data, every demographic group in America agrees with the rule of law and securing our borders." He told listeners to seek out a speech Rep. Raul Labrador (whose family is Puerto Rican) gave about the rhetoric. "The Democrats, they have to demagogue on this, and turn it into a racial issue."
Such a claim is an act in Right-wing political theater as inspired by Neo Nazis and KKK members.

In the Age of Obama, conservatism, racism, and white supremacy are all coupled together like man-beasts at a bestiality and zoophilia themed orgy.

Thus, the absurdity of Brooks's claims are a lightning rod for personal hurt, anger, and no small amount of humor by black Americans and other reasonable and ethically minded people.

As I joked on Twitter, Mo Brooks is also providing an opportunity to ask some hard questions, speculate, and laugh about contemporary American Right-wing politics as a type of absurdest political performance...while not forgetting that humor is a way of massaging the public mood in order to legitimate eliminationism, hate, and white supremacy.

In that spirit, I have some questions and observations about Mo Brooks worries about a "war on whites" as waged by Obama and the Democratic Party:

1. Could Mo Brooks be a black man who is actually passing for white in order to sabotage the Tea Party GOP? If the NAACP's legendary Brother Walter Francis White "passed" in order to investigate lynchings in the South during Jim and Jane Crow, why couldn't black and brown folks play the role of agent provocateur in the Age of Obama?

2. The White Right has created its own media and propaganda apparatus. That machine has generated stories and "research" about an "inevitable" "race war" between white people and non-whites as a means of recruiting new members to their cause, and of perhaps persuading white undecideds to find a "white racial consciousness". Are there parallel fantasies of "race war" by black racial chauvinists and an accompanying literature? If so, please share some of those works.

3. Practical matters. What would a black on white race war actually look like? I am very curious about the first principles and scheming of white racists such as Mo Brooks as they try to divine an impossible plan.

4. Practical matters. Mo Brooks's white supremacist conspiranoid claims about a black on white race war in the United States are projections of white racist anxieties where "the chickens come home to roost".

The Tea Party GOP has to resolve a basic contradiction and lie as they desperately try to advance white victimologist dreams: the White Right argues that slavery was good for black people, the plantation was an idyllic place, and that black and brown folks exaggerate about the fact of white racism in the present.

How then can it logically follow that those same people who were "blessed" by slavery and white racism would then want to wage a "race war" against white people?

5. Mo Brooks and the War on Whites is a great and catchy title for a Southern rock or country music band/album. On said project, what would some of Mo Brooks' songs be? What is the playlist?


James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

Actually, there are some books on what a racial civil war would look like. In the fantasy category, is Andrew Macdonald's (William Pierce) The Turner Diaries. However, for a strategic look at a racial civil war, see the paperback copy of Thomas Chittum, Civil War Two (or II). While all knowledgeable analysts of the right-wing delve deeply into the Turner Diaries, there is barely the perception that Chittum's book exists. Those who have mentioned the book consider it a fantasy novel. It is not. There are no characters and there is no plot. It is a book of Indications and Warning indicators of a pending racial civil war. Essentially, it tells white militiamen and white supremacists, the racial civil war that we believe is coming will not a "bolt from the blue." There will be indicators or signs that such a racial civil war is coming--here they are.

Essentially, it is a war of three-way ethnic cleansing: white versus brown versus black--a veritable war of all against all. The methodology of the mid-1990s book (but one applicable today) is to examine the distribution of population (by race) and lines of communication, that is, major transporation arteries and hubs. The objective is to ethnically cleanse undesirables out of one's area while building up defensive enclaves linked by major highways. Some regions became mono-racial. Other areas are more mixed. But, the aim is to ethnically cleanse the areas so that one race is completely dominant.

Like other right-wing strategists, the underlying trigger mechanism is an economic collapse followed by urban rioting. The book, while virtually unknown to progressive analysts, was briefed to the leadership of the white supremacist movement in the mid-1990s, is widely sold (according to the publisher), and comes in a virulently anti-Semitic ebook version that the author objected to. When the anti-immigrant movement took off in the mid-2000s, it was again hawked to a new generation of white nationalists. Nevertheless, I have been able to link it to the writings of Fourth Generation Warfare. It is a serious book.

chauncey devega said...

I knew about the Turner Diaries and had planned to do something about it here on WARN. The other book is new to me. Is it widely read within the white nationalist movement? Or is it for the "serious players"?

chauncey devega said...

I agree. How do you think a black on white, or people of color--a term I am trying to stop using--against whites would look like? I am fascinated by the long running narrative of white victimology, when in fact it is white folks in the U.S. are the only ones who have waged "race war" against others and were quite successful at it.

joe manning said...

I'm confident that the two above books are only of interest to a small lunatic fringe but the greater rightist movement compensates for its lack of adherents by fomenting crises and constitutional crises are the order of the day.

joe manning said...

I'm 66 years old and the only decade that I can remember that was this rightist was the 50's. But back then liberals were the ensconced political majority and everybody thought that the right was too nutty to be taken seriously. But now they're well organized with the TP methodically fomenting multiple constitutional crises in order to destroy political democracy, popular government being anathema to the minoritarian right wing. They're replacing American pluralism with fascistic crisis management. This is incentive to get out the vote.

DanF said...

What you fail to mention Chauncey is that a lone black panther stood menacingly at a Philadelphia voter poll that one time, so black people fired the first shot in the RACE WAR!!!

You ask: "How then can it logically follow that those same people who were "blessed" by slavery and white racism would then want to wage a "race war" against white people?"

Let me channel my racist spirit-guide (deep breath): "Black people are ungrateful for all that white people have done for them and are the dog that bites the hand that feeds them."

5. Mo Brooks and the War on Whites top five:
5) Jesus Loves a Dixiecrat
4) Living Under the Red, WHITE and Blue
3) Payin' the Black Man's Bills
2) White Man's Burden
1) There is Shame in the Mark of Cane

These folks are clowns, but they wield power. Truly frightening that a sitting Congressman would say this shit. The fact that he feels it's OK and important to say it shows a pretty deep fissure between our realities.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

Later, I thought you had meant what it would look like to have black Americans waging a race war on white Americans.

The idea is so absurd that it is very difficult to imagine how it could be possible (unless you believe every piece of conservative propaganda published since Lincoln freed the slaves).

First of all, how would there be a unified attack on white America? There is no mass concentration of white people that could be easily assaulted.

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

Well, the kid in Pittsburgh who killed three policemen had it on his recommended reading list. Chittum apparently went around the country briefing the National Alliance membership. He briefed the top leadership of the white supremacist movement at a conference called by Jared Taylor at Renaissance. It was given a very positive review on the white nationalist website The Social Contract run by John Tanton and Frosty Woodbridge gave it positive recommendations. The second publisher called it an "American right-wing classic." That may be hyperbole. What I do know is that Chittum saw William S. Lind as some kind of guru for a racial civil war, since Lind had published such a scenario in the Washington Post just after the Oklahoma City bombing. Lind was also wrote an unpublished book on a future racial civil war. In fact, the Free Congress Foundation, that employed Lind as a strategist, promoted Chittum's book on its website, before the links were erased once they were highlighted by a blogger.

chauncey devega said...

These are the same people--Birchers and company--who are still with us and more powerful. History repeating itself.

Jaime Gandarilla said...

Of course when you see your privilege slightly shifted, you feel you're being discriminated against.
It's like a bully loosing height and weight; even if his past victims don't attack him, he will feel threatened.

Yastreblyansky said...

Myshkin's right, it's senseless as a concept. What it is is pure projection as you would say or the same thing as with class war (they wage economic war on us, we complain with facts and analysis. they scream "Class war!" as if we were using pitchforks). What that Brooks fool calls a "war on whites" is open discussion of what is done in reality to POC. Speaking about it is regarded as a hostile act.

These are people, too, who have no idea what an actual war is like, which is why they're always so happy to cheer wars on in Iraq or Palestine or wherever. Because they are psychopathically incapable of empathy,
they suppose their own resentful butthurt ("You called me a racist!") must be what war feels like.

Liked your piece a lot and happily tweeted it to my 3 1/2 followers.

chauncey devega said...

And being forced to acknowledge your privilege is what really hurts too. When one lies to themselves about colorblindness and the myth of meritocracy being confronted by the facts hurts and enrages.

chauncey devega said...

3.5 followers becomes millions :)

The sociopathy angle is important when dealing with authoritarians. Again, a basic truth, that if uttered by one of the talking head class would get them fired.

balitwilight said...

Oklahoma City terrorist Timothy McVeigh, murderer of 168, had pages from the Turner Diaries (describing a race-war-inciting bombing) inside his car when he was arrested. He was a White Supremacist and a devotee of the Christian Identity Movement which is founded on the belief that "whites" are superior to the "mud people". Of course we all remember how much those core racist elements of McVeigh's murderous motivations were endlessly repeated on TV. (Or perhaps they were not).

The term "Helter Skelter" written in the blood of a murdered woman by Charlie Mansion's followers is Manson's term for a race war that Manson was predicting, teaching, and planning for, in 1969. Manson's motivation was to start a race war. Again, we all know just how much of the Charlie Manson lore even mentions the word "race[-ism]".

Myshkin the Idiot said...

the black Sphere agrees with Mo Brooks. What you got to say to that?

"if you are a white male, you are undoubtedly the most oppressed person in America today.

"To think that America evolved beyond treating black people like chattel only to start treating white people like chattel dung would be funny, if it were not such a blow to the American Spirit."

I'm glad there are black men like Kevin Williams who are willing to coddle me from all my white guilt so I feel better about myself.

channeling my inner Dale (white conservative dude i know)


Dan70801 said...

Isn't it ironic that a person whom MANY Whites have always said they wanted ALL of us to emulate, well educated, articulate, family man, highly successful, intelligent, etc. Has become the target for rabid, irrational, inexplicable hatred the way President Obama has? Hell he's the Negro who ACTUALLY came to dinner rather than Sidney P. It really has pissed them off that some of us are not only "non threatening" but actually can be EVERYTHING they think they are and more!

Carol J Robertson said...

I think the thought of a civil war between blacks and whites is sickening. I don't have any distaste or animosity for blacks. I do not judge them by the color of their skin. I have black friends that I love very much. I could never turn against them. It is so sad that we would divide by color. I don't mean not to understand the anger of blacks in this country. I do.. And I would fight beside you for your rights. But, one thing I don't want to do is fight against you. Don't allow the politicians to pit us against each other. It's the old divide and conquer concept. Those of us who believe in the same principles must stick together, no matter the color of our skins. War has never accomplished anything other than breaking a lot of hearts. :-(