It is time to stop normalizing and accommodating the White Supremacists among us. They may be a third of America, but they are the lost third, longing for return to a time we will never revisit.
Instead of looking forward, they are stuck to a past that will never be revived, no matter how many elections they rig or people they terrorize or kill. The America I was born into and grew up in as a kid was a very different place from today. In the 1950s the country was firmly under the control of straight white men:
- Blacks – and other minorities, varying by region – were confined to certain parts of town and were routinely beaten, arrested, or even killed for stepping into whites-only areas.
- In 1951 only about 15% of Blacks were successful in registering to vote in all of the former Confederate states.
- With few exceptions, the only minority faces seen in media were those portrayed as either buffoons or criminals.
- Abortion was illegal, and in many states you could go to jail, even if you were married, for possessing birth control of any sort, including condoms, in your own home. IUD’s and birth control pills did not exist.
- Schools, restaurants, hotels, and most private businesses were racially segregated.
- Women – even White women – could not sign a contract, get a credit card or open a bank account in their own names without the signature of a father or husband.
- Immigration into America was regulated to maintain the country’s racial balance.
- Gays and lesbians were routinely beaten, imprisoned, raped, and murdered with no consequence to their tormentors.
- Police had carte blanche to terrorize and kill minorities of all types.
Since then, a lot has changed:
- The browning of America began in a big way in the 1960s with egalitarian changes to our immigration, voting, and public accommodations laws.
- The Women’s Rights movement picked up steam after the legalization in 1961 of birth control pills and Roe v Wade in 1973, although Republicans have successfully blocked the Equal Rights Amendment to this day.
- Full citizenship for LGBTQ people picked up in the 1990s and was finally realized – in law, at least- when Vice President Biden and then President Obama endorsed gay marriage and the Supreme Court ratified it in June of 2015.
Throughout the past 30 or so years as the larger of these changes have been cemented into law and culture, straight white male backlash has grown to the point where, today, white male supremacy is the core product sold on rightwing television and hate-talk radio/podcasts.
That backlash has gone from passive resistance against integration, to the Tea Party, to openly declaring Barack Obama “not a real American,” to rightwing media embracing the “Great Replacement Theory” first championed by “America First” actual Nazis 80 years ago.
An effort to realize our nation’s founding creed that “all men are created equal” has been twisted in the minds of Trump followers into a sinister plot to deny straight white men their God-given role in American society. Now it’s being used to justify political violence (57% of Republicans today say January 6th was “patriotic”), election-rigging, and court-packing.
This idea that Democrats, in addition to drinking the blood of children and embracing “international” Jewish villains (like George Soros), are actively working to “replace” straight white people with people of color and/or LGBTQ folks is particularly poisonous and virulent.
Tucker Carlson, with the approval of the heir to Rupert Murdoch’s billions, began this in a big way during prime time on Fox “News.” On April 8th, for example, he told his viewers:
“[T]he Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World.”
Four days later, Carlson explained to his mostly white Fox audience the Great Replacement Theory and how, in his opinion, Democrats were its main advocates:
“Demographic change,” he said, “is the key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions. In order to win and maintain power, Democrats plan to change the population of the country. They’re no longer trying to win you over with their program. … They don’t even really care about your vote anymore. Their goal is to make you irrelevant.”
On April 15th, Carlson echoed the Nazi theory that the pinnacle of evolution was, as Hitler preached, the white (Aryan) race:
“Acknowledge the reality of evolutionary biology,” he demanded, sliding into the evening news buzzwords that every white supremacist in America instantly recognized. “It is real.”
“They are changing everything, whether we like it or not. A new language, new values, new biology, new curricula, new social mores and hiring standards and body types. A brand-new national population. And then, because that is still not enough change, a whole new system of government. … What will the consequences of that change, of that revolution be? In your bones, you know the answer. It’s terrifying, and it does not have to happen.”
Fox’s Laura Ingraham also said it out loud:
“Of this my friends you can be sure, your views on immigration will have zero impact and zero influence on a House dominated by Democrats who want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever increasing number of chain migrants.”
Now the chief of the Border Patrol union, Brandon Judd, is even repeating the America-For-Whites-Only theme, saying:
“I believe that they’re trying to change the demographics of the electorate; that’s what I believe they’re doing,”
After the last presidential election white supremacists conspired to keep their leader, Donald Trump, in office by, among other things, trying to murder the Vice President and Speaker of the House in their attempted coup.
This virulent form of white supremacy has also spread to our churches. When PRRI asked if Trump had “encouraged white supremacists,” a majority of Black (75%) and Hispanic (68%) churchgoers said yes. But, the pollsters found, fewer than “half of white mainline Protestants (43%) and white Catholics (43%) and only 26% of white evangelical Protestants share this view.”
These straight white “Christians” cheered when Trump began the “Birther” movement, terrorized refugee children (many of whom are now lost to trafficking or unknown adoptions), referred to majority-Black nations as “sh*thole countries,” engaged in slurs like “Mexican judge,” and repeatedly referred to Black women in Congress as “crazy.”
They have been told that as minorities increase their roles in media, politics, and the mainstream of American life and business, that must mean that white opportunities are similarly reduced. They see American society and the distribution of jobs, wealth, and power within it as a zero-sum game, which it very much is not.
Most of the old-timers among them have always been racists; the new adherents to the white supremacist ideology were evangelized on unregulated social media and by rightwing hate radio and TV.
They have so completely taken over the Republican Party that white supremacist senators felt empowered to attack a highly qualified but Black female judge as pro-pedophile. CBS just put one of them on its payroll. They are purging the party of old-line “fiscal conservatives” like Liz Cheney; and the savagely bigoted and anti-gay Ron DeSantis is their new savior.
These people are lost. By and large, there is no hope to redeem or awaken them, and we should stop trying.
Americans and our institutions should stop normalizing them, as if being a member of the GOP means a person is suddenly above also being a white supremacist bigot. Racists should no longer be able to hide behind the sheet of “just being political.”
A big step forward happened this past weekend when The New York Times published an extraordinary exposé of Tucker Carlson’s “most racist show in the history of cable news.”
While programming like Carlson’s would have been normal in most of America in the 1950s, it should have no place in our more diverse nation in 2022, regardless of how much money it makes Fox’s Australian owners.
Racists and bigots must be called out, labeled, and shunned, no matter how wealthy or powerful they may be. This is particularly important on the Sunday TV political shows, where they routinely show up and are almost never confronted with meaningful questioning.
And then we must turn to the most important work: getting about the business of governing and moving forward, rebuilding this country from the wreckage of 40 years of Reaganism, while leaving his and Trump’s bigoted followers to marinate alone in their own putrid stew.
© Thom Hartmann, used with permission. Originally published on The Hartmann Report as A Third of America is Lost to Hate: Is It Time to Move On?
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