Specter of white supremacy haunts the US
Published: Jun 08, 2022 12:04 PM
US gun control Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US gun control Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The past few weeks have seen America rocked by multiple mass shootings, including a horrific attack on Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children. The killings have provoked a national debate on the causes of such tragedies, beyond the gun issue, which have been increasingly attributed to "White Supremacist" beliefs which have been on the rise throughout America over the past few years.

America is a nation which is struggling to come to terms with a rapidly changing demographic identity, creating growing political and social unrest. A recently published YouGov poll, conducted between May 16 and19, found that a significant 39 percent of respondents "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed with the sentence, "White people in this country are being replaced by non-white people." While a slight plurality of 41 percent disagreed, what's important to note is that 58 percent of self-identified Republicans agreed.

That is to say that a majority of Republicans and over one out of three adults in the US believes in the so-called great replacement conspiracy theory that was the stated motivation behind a number of recent mass shootings, including a previous one in Buffalo, New York on May 14 committed by a white supremacist domestic terrorist.

Speaking just in the aftermath of that shooting, US President Joe Biden called on Americans to "reject the lie" of the "replacement theory" that the shooter described at length in his 180-page online manifesto. He went on to promise that "evil will not win" in the country and that "white supremacy will not have the last word." But this poll indicates that some Americans are increasingly buying into ideas of white supremacy - and they will probably come to power again.

I say again because, to note, the Republican Party is an outwardly white supremacist political party. Its main proponents in politics and the media are openly espousing white supremacist ideology. One example is Tucker Carlson, who hosts the flagship show of Fox News, the country's most-watched television station. 

Becca Lewis, a PhD candidate at Stanford University, tweeted something rather interesting when she posted four quotes and asked users which of them were direct quotes from the Buffalo shooter and which were from Tucker Carlson's show. Well, the quotes were literally indistinguishable. That's perhaps not surprising since Carlson's former scriptwriter, Blake Neff, was revealed in 2020 to be an extremely active white supremacist. This writer might have gotten sacked - but the rhetoric has not softened on the program. 

Of course, it's not just about one so-called journalist - even if he does have a very important platform for these ideas. The entire Republican Party, from Donald Trump's "Build the Wall" to perennial anti-enfranchisement policies, are meant to either keep non-whites out of the country or keep them from gaining political power.

In fact, this latter point is a sort of lite version of the outwardly white supremacist replacement theory and is used to justify policies that restrict ballots. Republicans claim that the Democratic Party is trying to grant citizenship to as many people as possible in order to secure a voter bloc - even though, ironically, the Republican Party won a significantly greater share of minorities in 2020 than it did in 2016.

Of course, another irony about the entire "replacement" position is that it acknowledges that being a minority is not a positive thing. Racism in the US thrives by not being acknowledged or swept under the rug as somehow a relic of the past and now no longer relevant. If racism doesn't exist and minorities are treated well, then why are "replacement" believers afraid of being minorities? 

It doesn't make sense - and, to note, none of this makes sense. By "none of this," I am referring to the entire racial classification system in the US altogether. "White" is a political construct, plain and simple, that is either expanded or contracted in definition to suit the political objectives of the ruling class. There were periods, for example, in US history where Irish people and Italian people, both European ethnicities, were not considered white and were heavily racialized.

In fact, so convoluted is the concept of race in politics that Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime drew inspiration from American race laws when it constructed the Nuremberg Laws, as lawyer James Q. Whitman revealed in his now-famous book Hitler's America Model. This should also give some reference for exactly how bad white supremacy is in the US, historically speaking, given that the one regime in history universally recognized as morally repugnant actually sought to emulate America in its racism (and genocide of the Native population).

To be sure, the US is on pace to become majority non-white by 2050 and the 2018 census revealed that non-Hispanic white residents made up less than half of the under 15 population for the first time. Whatever that means anyway. What it does not mean is that there is a genocide, e.g., the industrial slaughter of, "white" people. This does not even imply that one particular racial group will actually become a majority and rather suggests that "whites" will be the plurality group, e.g., still the biggest one.

The author is a Prague-based American journalist, columnist and political commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn