The specter of White nationalism is real. We ignore it or discount it at our peril.
The problem already is upon us, as Benji Hart explains in White Nationalism Lives and White People Need to Fight It:
More recently, white nationalism has been linked with a spate of police murders. Scott Michael Greene, who killed two officers in Iowa in late October, allegedly did so because he was enraged that Black athletes kneeling for the national anthem had not been arrested. Over 70% of police killings in 2016 have been carried out by white men, a fact around which many have noted a telling silence among conservatives. The FBI itself has been warning of growing white supremacist activity within law enforcement for more than a decade, and some pundits have gone so far as to call white nationalism the greatest standing threat to national security.
Impending demographic change undoubtedly will worsen the threat. Whites will be in the minority by 2042, according to projections. Emily Schwartz Greco explores the connection of that reality to white nationalism in Will Trump Target Both Documented and Undocumented Immigrants?
Today, a majority of US toddlers are non-white, according to the Census. Whites stand to lose their majority status by 2042. One sign that this transformation reverberated in the election: White voters were more likely to support Trump when they heard about that outlook, a team of University of California at Santa Barbara and Stanford researchers found.
Reflect on that for a moment. It should scare the crap out of you. Think of South Africa circa 1990 or Israel today. When demographics threaten the position of the ruling race, terrible things happen.
Could terrible things happen here, under a Trump Presidency? Already, the incidence of hate crime is off the charts, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Pulling from news reports, social media, and direct submissions at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, the SPLC had counted 201 incidents of election-related harassment and intimidation across the country as of Friday, November 11 at 5pm. These range from anti-Black to anti-woman to anti-LGBT incidents. There were many examples of vandalism and epithets directed at individuals. Often times, types of harassment overlapped and many incidents, though not all, involved direct references to the Trump campaign.
White supremacists are emboldened, to say the least. They think they won the election. They think they are the ones in charge.
Will they be? Only if they’re allowed to be. That will depend on how first Trump, then the Republicans in Congress, then the billionaire class in America handle it. Watch carefully for what I’ll call a chain reaction of cravenness. First, will Trump forcefully and quickly denounce the hate crimes, or will he do so only because he has to? Remember how slow he was to reject the endorsement of David Duke, ducking the question when posed to him, saying he didn’t know who David Duke is, then claiming his earpiece was not functioning. A response like that, even if he ultimately condemns the violence, will be a massive warning signal.
Next, if Trump does not forcefully confront the problem, look to how Republican operatives, particularly members of Congress, react. Will they eviscerate Trump with their criticism, or will the criticism be more muted?
Finally, if the Republican power structure does not react forcefully enough, look to how the billionaire class (Adelson, the Koch brothers, etc.) react. Will they place undue pressure on the Republican politicians over whom they have monetary control, or will they care more about eliminating the estate tax?
Could there be a chain reaction of cravenness? Absolutely. At each link in the chain, the party in whose hands the power to maintain control rests faces a dilemma. For Trump, those White supremacists were his base. I doubt he likes them all that much, but he doesn’t want them turning on him politically. For the Republicans in Congress, Trump’s is the signature they need and the bully pulpit they want to make their ideological agenda a reality. For the billionaire class, the Republicans in Congress are their vehicle to tax reduction /elimination and increased wealth (and power).
There’s that old adage “all that’s needed for tyranny to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” If only that were the risk we faced. If only. But the time for “good people” to have done something has largely passed. In America, we’ve reached the point where all that may be necessary for tyranny to triumph will be for incredibly mediocre, corrupt, and greedy people to be guided by self-interest and do nothing.
Unless ordinary, decent white people finally rise up, join forces with black and brown people, and collectively say no. Because the window for good people to do something has not entirely passed. Which brings me back to Benji Hart:
A Trump presidency is disheartening, but it is not surprising. It is representative of a history that has never been accounted for, a mess that has never been wiped up. It is a germinating of the fear and pain people of color have never stopped expressing, but that liberals and conservatives alike have consistently ignored. It is a testament to the organizing of Black and Brown communities, their capacity to shake the material realities of the status quo so deeply as to invoke a massive, vengeful response. It is indicative of the power of whiteness, it’s ability to unite poor people in allegiance to their own master, so long as he promises them supremacy over the other, can convincingly demonize the margins. It is a blowing open of the work that has never been earnestly done, that must finally be done, and the onus of which rests squarely on the shoulders of white communities, nationally and globally.
The election is over, and with it the illusion of our ability to choose our political destinies through the electoral system. Today, we must ask ourselves how we will respond to the slashing of needed resources for the bolstering of state-sanctioned violence. We must ask ourselves how we will protect the earth, halt the official bodies who see the amassing of their own wealth as a higher priority than the longevity of our planet, and the sovereignty of Native people. We must ask how we will defend ourselves and each other from heightened racial, sexual, xenophobic and anti-Muslim attacks.
If you’re with me so far, click on the link to Hart’s piece and read it in full. And keep it in the front of your mind as you see things develop.