How Bad Things Will Happen (If They Do)

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.

25 thoughts on “How Bad Things Will Happen (If They Do)”

  1. In any close contest, for the loser every decision that doesn’t work out is, in retrospect, fatal. And for the winner, every decision that works is decisive, even brilliant. The problem for Democrats is that we judge against a standard of perfection. All the complaints against Clinton, in my opinion were false, misleading, or exaggerated. Monday morning quarterbacking campaign tactics is another form of demanding perfection. I believe the lesson we never seem to learn is that there is no margin for error. we need ALL the votes of potentially sympathetic supporters with tolerance for appeals to voters we may disagree with (moderate Republicans and people offended by the personal Trump.) Add in the media failure, Comey, … and you can lose a contest you should have won. We should be adults and realize you have to make choices that are less than your favorite. There are real world consequences and the Republicans will change the playing field (Supreme Court, voting restrictions) so we may never get another real chance. And of course now Republican state officials will not have to worry about the federal justice department, regulators, or courts inhibiting them at all. We’re f@%*ed.

    • Monday morning quarterbacking? I don’t think so.

      Nate Silver didn’t do so well this year in predicting the outcome of the election, but the path to victory that was part of his election forecast is solid:

      Note that Florida with 29 electoral votes had a 17.6 percent chance of tipping the election. Had Clinton won all her blue states she wouldn’t have needed either Florida or North Carolina to just barely win in a close election. She just needed New Hampshire or Nevada to get over the finish line. If she won Florida in addition to her blue states, Trump had no path to victory. Also, if she won Florida, she could lose one or two of the blue states where she wasn’t as strong and still win the election.

      The final results in Florida were interesting because Clinton won all of the urban areas except for Duval County (Jacksonville) which, interestingly enough, has a Democratic voter advantage. I have no idea what went wrong.

      However, none of this is hindsight. The Clinton campaign didn’t make it happen and we are learning some of the reasons why. It was their responsibility to develop a winning strategy which is not synonymous with demanding perfection. God knows they had enough money. Sooner or later some insiders will talk and we’ll know even more.

      Blaming the voters is absurd. The voters are what they are. And blaming FBI Director Comey is just ridiculous. But I guess Comey is a good scapegoat because the theory that he threw the election cannot be proved to be true or false.

      • “And blaming FBI Director Comey is just ridiculous.”

        Yes, it is ridiculous. But Hillary is still reeling from what she thought was a sure thing and from the realization that it is all over for her. Comey is there and he is convenient. Of course she will realize in a while that blaming him is dumb and no one else believes it. But for now it comforts her.

    • And, of course, the electoral college results show the Democrats’ winning strategy in reverse. Trump deprived Clinton of must have blue states in her path to victory.

      The other part of the epic fail was not to take back the Senate. It would have made a Trump win less catastrophic, and this failure is probably mostly attributable to poor leadership within the party. But it should have been considered as important as winning the presidency.

      • ” But it should have been considered as important as winning the presidency.”

        I understood that the democrat party diverted funds intended for Hillary to certain Senate seats once it was decided Hillary was a done deal. I think the democrats actually did try to take the Senate but failed to do so.

    • “The problem for Democrats is that we judge against a standard of perfection.”

      I know you meant this seriously, but I still chuckled when I read it. The only thing democrats judge against a standard of perfection is the opposition. democrat condidates can be as flawed as anything and still be acceptable.

      “All the complaints against Clinton, in my opinion were false, misleading, or exaggerated.

      I give you credit for at acknowledging that at least some of the complaints were valid.

  2. I think there is something wrong with your figure stating that 70% of felonious cop killers in 2016 were white. The source does not cite his source and historically, about 40% of felonious cop killers are black. That figure goes back decades. It was about that in 2015, 17 of 37 offenders according to the feds.
    Massive shifts like your source claims without documentation are rare black swan events, but so was Trump’s win.

  3. Interesting post and excellent article on Truthout by Benji Hart.

    For better or worse, it does seem as though we are closer to having that long postponed conversation about race.

    I’m generally careful about who I would call out as a white supremacist, but with Trump there is no margin for error. Remember the Central Park 5, then add all that he said just in the course of this election. Everyone who voted for Trump knew they were voting for a white supremacist.

    Now for some folks, of course, that is the very reason they voted for him. They voted to make America white again, to get back to the days when their white skin was a greater asset for them than in recent years. And, of course, eight years of a black president was reason enough to strike back.

    Yet, the stunning election results have forced us to look past the simple and the obvious. Now we are talking about the working class in the Midwest, left behind for two decades while their good jobs went to foreign countries. They may or may not believe that Trump will get their jobs back, but they voted against the establishment, those who forgot them.

    Even so, the moral question looms large. Do we not have a moral responsibility to protect the nation and our fellow countrymen from a clear and present danger? And is there any other way to describe Trump? How many millions of lives would be endangered in so many different ways if Trump were allowed to enact the radical right wing agenda that he promised?

    The Clinton campaign was without question depending on our collective conscience. Every TV ad that I saw defined Trump as essentially evil and was a direct appeal to our moral responsibility. But this wasn’t enough.

    In my own thoughts, I keep returning to a time and a place that I would rather not revisit, but this seems to be where the answers lie, at least for me.

    My parents, my relatives, my friends’ parents, and just about all of the adults I knew while growing up in the Deep South would be horrified to be called white supremacists or racists. These folks went to church every Sunday to worship the Lord and they worked hard and they didn’t lie or cheat or steal. And they sure as hell didn’t put on white sheets and head out to northwest Jacksonville to burn houses and terrorize black people. Now, they did use racist slurs in the privacy of their homes but only in a general way, never specifically. And in their own minds, they meant no harm and they caused no harm to the racial other. If you asked them about segregation they would say, “That’s just the way things are.”

    They were racists. They lived their whole lives within earshot of the misery and suffering wrought by Jim Crow, but they felt no moral responsibility to change it. They were not uncomfortable with white southern ideologies about race and class and knowing your place. And they knew how to look the other way when things got rough.

    Sadly, I have seen these same attitudes and beliefs get passed down from one generation to the next, perhaps with small adjustments that reflect the times. The detachment and the failure to connect to the larger whole of society remain the same. I am convinced it will always be “us” and “them” for many if not most white people.

    Benji Hart’s call to action for white people is both well argued and justified. I’m not optimistic that many will hear him or respond. But I would so love to be wrong.

    • You do realize, Liza, that racism is not unique to whites?

      A little over 10 years ago my wife passed away. After about five years my Daughter and her friends started arranging dates for me with women in my age range that they thought I might enjoy dating. One woman in particular and I struck up a very strong relationship. She was smart, funny, articulate and beautiful. She was also black. We had a really good relationship going but her two sons, both adults, could not stand her dating a white man and they let both of us know it at every opportunity. After about a year of pressure from them, we broke up, which was sad because we made a marvelous couple. The only problem was the raw racism of her sons.

    • Yeah, I understand. We like to hope that in our personal relationships we will be judged on the basis of merit and not race, gender, sexual preference, etc… But many people are not willing or able to look past those biases.

      But I’m not sure what this says about racism in general. Who has the power to do the most harm?

  4. “…and some pundits have gone so far as to call white nationalism the greatest standing threat to national security.”

    I see it as another opportunity for some pundits to attack whites, Bob. There are people whose first instinct in any situation is to blame whitey. It requires an assumption that only whites are capable of negativity and whatever otherwise negative actions are taken by non-whites should be viewed as benevolent, almost heroic, reactions to the evil perpetrated by whites.

    As sad as it makes me to say this, I think what you wrote here is a representative example of what I am talking about. Your theme is that unless “good” whites start working with non-whites to squelch the natural proclivities of the average white person to oppress others, we may face a crisis of monumental proportions. Since whites will be in the minority by 2042, they should learn humility before then. It doesn’t seem to bother you that many non-whites demonstrate belligerence, racism and xenophobia as bad as the worst of white supremicists.

    I don’t think what you are concerned about will come to fruition. It was whites who were oppressors, but it was also whites who were liberators. It was whites who passed legislation for the Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Legislation, the 14th Amendment, and hundreds of other laws that ensured the rights of non-whites were made clear. It was hundreds of thousands (millions) of whites that marched arm in arm with non-whites to protest abridgement of those rights. And it was millions of white that marginalized white supremacists and still keep them on the fringes of society. And when the time comes and whites become a minority, they will accept it with grace.

    The REAL question should be: How will the new majority act when they find they have the power to effect change? Will they be inclusive? Or will they put roadblocks in the path of the minorities over which they now loom? From the indicators I see, that transition may not be as benevolent as one might hope.

  5. Most of the post-election violence I have read about and seen on TV is coming from the left and it is pretty ugly. Also while white supremacist no doubt choose Trump over Clinton, much like communists chose Clinton over Trump, to say that Trump’s base was made up of white supremacists is unsubstantiated and not true.

      • And there is every likelihood that you get your news from leftist sources. If your point was that sources from the right are biased, I would have to say sources from the left are equally biased.

        Of course, in the case of post-election violence, you only have to watch the nightly TV news on any channel to know it isn’t Trump supporters that are marching and rioting because Trump was elected President. Or do you disagree with that?

        • Among the worst outcomes of the destruction of the American newspaper journalism industry has been the kudzu like growth of false equivalencies. This has been revealed in the never ending laziness of today’s so-called journalists to report the truth, or to critically analyze statements for accuracy. The majority of reporters, in all media are lazy. It is just easier and faster to state false equivalencies than to do actual research and in depth work to get at the truth. Thus the American people get nothing but road apples masked as journalism. And now the American people will get public policy the same way. No reality, tons of fantasy, and false data. I am afraid many, many of this person’s supporters will pay the price of fantasy and false equivalencies.

          • That was an extremely vague response. Am I to take away from it that since leftist news sources are not likely to dominate in the coming years that there will be no news coming forth? Do you believe that only the left speaks truth?

  6. I’m puzzled. Bob Lord spent a year telling us how horrible Hillary Clinton was, and told us he was supporting Jill Stein.
    Now he wants to tell us that things might not go so well with Donald Trump, who he did everything he could to elect.
    Bob, you have zero credibility in my book to lecture us about a thing for the next four years.

    • If you read the post more carefully, you may be a bit less puzzled. Or maybe not. I think I’m good with you not reading my posts for the next four years.

    • If you think third parties lost the election for Clinton, you’re the one with zero credibility. Clinton lost the election for herself with the help of the corrupt DNC.

      • Joan, (Bob too) If you think that then you are ready to be manipulated again and again and again by the right wing machine. These ideas about Clinton and the DNC were promulgated over and over by Newt Gingrich and the Right Wing Wurlitzer LONG before Hillary even decided to run for President. Yet every time she was in office she received overwhelming positive reviews from her constituents. The Right Wing created the negative sound bites, said it over and over until repetition made it appear to be fact, and my progressive brothers and sisters absorbed it, bought it, swallowed it whole. Until to them there was no difference between Clinton and Trump. Think about that now that Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid are on the chopping block. Think about that now the Paris Climate Change Accord that had the potential to set us on the path to save our world is now in the chopping block, think about that now that our LGBT+ siblings are in danger of being beaten and murdered by empowered right wing neo-Nazis, think about this as the last remnants of the Voting Rights Act are eviscerated making it nearly impossible for our black, Latino, Asian, Muslim, progressive Christian, Jewish, atheist friends who live in cities to have an equal chance to cast a ballot. Then tell me again that you didn’t have any effect on Trump’s chances of election or that there is no difference between the two. Think about it when you see the charts showing the difference between a Clinton presidency and a Trump presidency are the increased number of voters, primarily young progressives voting for Stein and Johnson, and the decrease in turnout among minority voters in cities. Think about as journalists doing good investigation are muzzled with threats against their 1st Amendment rights and their lives. Think about it every time you see a video showing a current KKK march in a primarily minority community or Nazi symbols on a church or synagogue or mosque’s walls. These are people’s LIVES you have affected.

        But hey, no sweat, I forgive you. People truly learn at different rates. I just want you to think about it over the next several years of darkness that – did – not – have – to – be.

        • I’m sure it was the Republicans who bought a Hillary suit and the Republicans who made her cast her vote in favor of the Iraq War, and it was the Republicans who made her call black children ‘Superpredators’ and that the country needed to ‘bring them to heel’.

          It was the Republicans who made her go out and give paid speeches to Wall St., and the same Republicans who made her keep those speeches silent. It was the Republicans who devised her horrible campaign strategy to waste time playing for a blowout in Arizona and North Carolina while leaving relatively undefended states such as Wisconsin and Michigan, costing not just her own election, but also quite possibly Russ Feingold’s as well. And it was the Republicans who were pulling the strings when she pushed for military intervention in Libya, and Syria, and who made insensitive comments like ‘we came, we saw, he died!’ in reference to Qaddafi.

          If the criticism of the left is being prone to false equivalencies, then the criticism of the center is having no standards.

          I challenge the Democratic Party to deeply introspect, and without assigning fault or rushing to blame literally anyone and everyone but themselves and their own flawed candidate, to ask why hundreds of thousands of Rust Belt voters who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 switched allegiances and cast votes for Trump in 2016. If you can’t figure out why so many people did, the Democrats aren’t going to win back the White House in 2020. I’ll give you a hint – it’s not because everyone in Pennsylvania is racist, sexist, and chauvinistic.

        • Good lord! Have you built your bomb shelter yet? I have never read such a hysterical posting on this blog before! And this is a liberal blog so that is saying a lot! Are you even able to sleep at night?

          Why don’t you calm down a little and see what happens rather than listening to your fears and scaring yourself so badly? As a young officer in the Army I learned a very important lesson about life: Don’t listen to the counsel of your fears. If you do you will be frightened into paralysis. There wasn’t one thing you mentioned that can happen if the American people say “NO!”. Trump is a President, not a King.

        • @Edward Cizek – applause, applause, and more applause. Standing ovation.

          I might add that it wasn’t the Republicans who advised Clinton and her handlers to make her campaign against Trump solely about good vs. evil (which was widely interpreted as the lesser of two evils).

          The point I tried to make earlier is that calling upon the nation to vote for Hillary based on a moral responsibility to protect the nation from the dire consequences of electing the evil candidate is essentially futile. And it seems that a campaign with more than a half billion to spend could have developed a winning strategy that prioritized knowing the electorate especially in “must have” blue states.

        • Another thing, Edward. Perhaps your talents are wasted in Arizona? There’s a lot to be said for picking the low hanging fruit first, and I just can’t imagine that Arizona is the place.

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