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At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Tim Wise is a white “antiracist” and crusader for “social justice.”

Recently, in an interview that he gave to Salon, Wise brought his “expertise” on race to bear upon the Trump phenomenon.

Donald Trump, he claims, exploited the “market for white resentment [.]”

Trump’s supporters, Wise assures us, are “crazy, bigoted, misogynistic” and “racist.” Moreover, they suffer from a “fragile masculinity” that’s threatened by the prospect of “pluralism,” of having to “share space” with those who aren’t white, Christian, heterosexual men.

To these folks, Wise bluntly states, “there’s a part of me that wants to say, ‘Fuck you.’” He admits to wanting to tell them: “I want your America to die, and I want you to be sad tomorrow, and I want you to deal with the fact painfully that your country is gone. And I don’t care because your country, as you conceived it, deserved to die.”

First of all, the only arguments that Wise makes here are the argument ad hominem and begging the question, arguments that are as psychologically, emotionally, and politically satisfying as they are logically fallacious. Wise blasts Trump’s white male supporters with the most radioactive of insults—“racist,” “bigoted,” etc.—while assuming that the resentment, the “white resentment,” that he attributes to them is unjustified. Yet this is exactly what needs to be shown.

Second, words like “racist,” “misogynistic,” are associative and affective, not logical or rational. Take “racism.” For something that functions as the political-moral equivalent of a nuclear bomb, the deadliest of all weapons of mass destruction, “racism” is used in wildly disparate contexts. It has been used to describe both Hitler’s policy of mass extermination of Jews and, most recently, Ellen DeGeneres’ posting of a Usain Bolt meme. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Simon Legree and Paula Deen, the Ku Klux Klan and “capitalism,” are all “racist.”

Precisely because murder is universally recognized as the egregious offense that it is, very specific criteria must be met before a person can be found guilty of it. Moreover, it is the accuser upon whom the burden of proof rests. If “murder” was employed as variously as is “racism,” we would all be murderers. But if “murder” could mean all things to all people, it ultimately would wind up meaning nothing.

This, though, is the fate that “antiracists” like Wise have visited upon their bread and butter, the word “racism.” All that people know is that to be accused of “racism” is to be accused of something awful. As to what, exactly, this thing is, no one knows.

Third, if, as Wise contends, there really are millions of resentful whites, it remains an open question as to whether their resentment is justified. When we are not engaging in politics, everyone understands that resentment is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, upon hearing that a person has resentment toward, say, her husband or her parents, the average person, far from dismissing it or writing it off as a function of wickedness on the part of the resentful individual, will suppose that there is probably some warrant for the resentment.

Yet when it comes to talking about the resentment, or anger, of white men, the kind of sensible thinking that pervades non-political, everyday life yields to the hyper-emotionality—and bad faith—reflected in Wise’s remarks.

Fourth, if whites generally, and white men in particular, are resentful, could it be that they are resentful toward people like Tim Wise? Perhaps white men resent the campaign of demonization that the merchants of the Racism-Industrial-Complex (RIC) have been waging against them for decades? Maybe, just maybe, they’re resentful toward those who would reduce their concerns for the well-being of their families, their concerns over crime, dangerous schools, terrorism, and illegal immigration to expressions of raw hatred? Maybe they’re resentful over the fact that the agents of Big Racism, ideologues like Wise, tirelessly objectify them as non-persons by meeting their objections to “affirmative action” and other racial double-standards with, not just insults, but aspersions—like “racist”—that have the potential to spell the professional and social ruination for those at whom they’re aimed?

Fifth, his self-description notwithstanding, Wise and his ilk are not “antiracists.” They are anti-white. More specifically, they are anti-white male. If Wise and company truly were “antiracists,” then they would speak out against the phenomenon of black racial animus, for blacks are exponentially more likely than are those of any other racial group to engage in interracial violence.

In 2013, 85% of the 660,000 instances of interracial violence between blacks and whites involved black perpetrators and white victims.

While it’s standard operating procedure for “antiracists” like Wise to dismiss this inconvenient fact by noting that blacks, who comprise a significantly smaller percentage of the population than whites, are much more likely to have “chance” encounters with whites than vice versa, this line falls flat once it is realized that blacks attack Hispanics only slightly less often than they attack whites: Of the 256,074 acts of interracial violence between these two groups, blacks were the perpetrators 82.5% of the time.

From Wise, however, we hear not a peep.

Finally, more evidence—proof, really—that Wise is more anti-white than anything else is that he admits to indulging in genocidal fantasies regarding “white America” (or what, until recently, was known simply as “America”). For some of us, this confirms what we’ve long suspected, that invocations of “Equality” and “pluralism” and the like—moral notions that originated in Western (white) civilization—constitute a smokescreen behind which “antiracists” and others seek to wage a kind of cold war against whites and white men. It’s not that Wise (I have to believe) wishes to see anyone literally killed. This war, rather, is a war to dismantle a culture, to demoralize, to shame. Politics is war by other means, and this is the war that “antiracists” and “social justice” crusaders have been in the process of waging for at least a half-of-a-century.

Ultimately, Wise’s remarks regarding supporters of Donald Trump have nothing to do with either Trump or his supporters. They are revealing for his views on straight white Christian men, for these are the views that Wise has been pedaling well before Trump entered the political arena.

Make no mistakes, leftists like Wise oppose Trump not primarily because of his policy prescriptions, and not even because of the callousness with which Trump has spoken. Wise and his fellow travelers don’t even necessarily oppose Trump as a person or candidate.

Rather, they oppose what they think Trump symbolizes: The America that Tim Wise believes has long “deserved to die.”

 

It’s true that on some of the most pressing of issues—immigration, trade, and foreign policy—Donald Trump’s “America First” positions are more align with traditional conservatism than are those of any other candidate. That is, they clash with the neoconservatism, the faux “conservatism,” that the GOP Establishment and its media apologists have promoted for decades as the genuine article.

Yet this being said, in Trump’s nearly 70 years, until very recently, he has done little to nothing to indicate that he has so much as an awareness of the classical conservative tradition, much less a commitment to it. Even if he really believes all that he is now saying, the inability of one person, even if he is the President, to accomplish what Trump vows to achieve supplies grounds for skepticism.

Nor is the Supreme Court, as so many Republicans would have us think, necessarily a sufficient reason to vote for Trump. Republicans play the Democrats’ game when they attempt to scare voters into thinking that, unless the latter reward them with political offices, the opposition party, by way of its Supreme Court Justice nominees, will deprive them of their guns, speech, borders, etc. However, Article Three, Section II of the US Constitution explicitly states that “the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make” (emphasis added).

In short, Republicans could’ve ended years ago judicial tyranny by simply exercising their Congressional authority to determine which topics would fall within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

Had Republicans done so, however, they would’ve imperiled their political fortunes. Thus, in this era of Big Government, “Constitutional conservatives” (and Trump as well) drone on as if the Constitution doesn’t permit the people’s elected representatives to prohibit nine lawyers from running roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.

The final reason that’s given for supporting Trump, that it’s necessary in order to defeat Hillary Clinton, fares no better than the preceding two.

If the choice between Trump and Clinton really is, or is plausibly perceived to be, a choice between two evils, then the only conscionable course of action is to abstain from voting for either: As Saint Paul says, we must never do evil so that good may come from it. Or, wishing to refrain from using the language of evil, we instead regard one as being “not as bad” as the other, the question then arises as to what this can mean? It’s conceivable that a candidate who is worse in the short-term may prove to be better, for one’s party and one’s nation, in the long-term. Or perhaps the differences between the two candidates simply aren’t sufficiently substantial to justify a vote for one over the other.

I believe that Trump qua the man is not as bad as Clinton. I also believe the same about many other Republicans—and Democrats, and third party candidates—who I wouldn’t vote for on this account.

There is one decisive reason for conservatives and libertarians to vote for Trump, but it has more to do with the Trump candidacy, or what Ilana Mercer calls “the Trump process,” than Trump the person.

For decades, there has been a virtual consensus across the political spectrum that “Washington,” or “the System,” is “broken.” At any rate, that Americans share this intuition explains why those politicians running for office every election cycle repeatedly assure us that they are the candidates to “fix” the mess—even though they never do anything but further grease the wheels of the Government-Media apparatus.

Trump, in stark contrast, and in as little as 14 or so months, has ripped the System asunder. He hasn’t just talked about the cancer. He has vindicated in spades the suspicions of citizens by revealing just how advanced it is. Beyond this, Trump, through his “creative destruction,” as Ilana Mercer describes the Trump phenomenon in her latest book, has spared no occasion to administer heavy-duty blasts of chemo. Whether he recognizes it or not, Trump seems to instinctively know that before the patient can get better, he must get worse. He seems to know that the treatment is sometimes worse than the illness.

Notice, I’m not backing Trump because of what he promises to do in the future. I’m backing him because of what he’s done already. Trump has been a one-man wrecking crew, shattering the sacred cows of both the Democrat and Republican wings of the Establishment. He has driven those in the “mainstream” media to relinquish the remaining vestiges of their authority by abandoning so much as the pretense of “objectivity” in their coverage of him even as he has unveiled the hypocrisy, opportunism, and pseudo-conservatism of their counterparts in the “conservative” media.

If things are ever to change for the better, this shaking up is necessary. There is another respect in which Trump is carving the time continuum of our political universe into two epochs, B.T. (Before Trump) and A.T. (After Trump):

In serving as the voice of tens of millions of previously voiceless Americans—the early 20th century political theorist William Graham Sumner referred to them (collectively) as “the Forgotten Man”—the very person of this unapologetically wealthy, white, heterosexual man symbolizes at once a resounding repudiation of the Politically Correct Zeitgeist propping up the Establishment and a profound psychological victory for millions over the cultural powers that have demonized them for far too long.

Whether he wins or loses in November, Trump has already won, for he’s succeeded in emboldening scores of Americans who would have otherwise remained disengaged, Americans who will not go quietly away or back to voting for Bushes, Kasichs, and Romneys. He has made it acceptable, indeed, necessary, to talk aloud about issues that had long been neglected by partisans of both parties.

Trump is no traditional conservative. He’s no libertarian. Yet he has taken a crucial first step, a step that no one else had proven willing to take.

And for this, he has got my vote.

What exactly is a “NeverTrumper?”

Not everyone who opposes Donald Trump’s candidacy is a NeverTrumper.

A NeverTrumper, first of all, must be a Republican. Secondly, he or she must oppose Trump.

For example, “libertarians” like Ron Paul refuse to endorse Trump, but this is only because they refuse to endorse any candidate who they believe will further the cause of Big Government—and Trump they believe, quite implausibly, will further this cause.

NeverTrumpers, in contrast, are Republicans who self-identify, not as libertarian, but as “conservative.” They too claim to resist Trump because of the threat that he allegedly poses to “limited government,” the Constitution, and all things “conservative.”

Tellingly, they loathe “libertarians” like Ron Paul at least as much as they loathe Trump. These Chicken Littles who now scream about the death of constitutional government in the event of a Trump presidency not only didn’t back Paul when he ran as a Republican for their party’s nomination in 2008 and 2012; they oscillated between treating him as a non-entity and demonizing him as a nut and worse.

Moreover, NeverTrumpers who wail about the destruction that Trump promises to visit upon “conservatism” and “limited government” and who insist that he is a fake are the same scribblers and chatterers who have resoundingly endorsed George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney—proponents of Limitless Government all of them. This brings us to our next point:

While liberty-lovers like Paul refuse to endorse Trump, NeverTrumpers are anti-Trump. While folks like Paul are anti-Big Government, NeverTrumpers are anti-Trump. The latter exhibit infinitely more passion and commitment to stopping Trump than they’ve ever shown with respect to stopping either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. In fact, it is not a stretch to describe their attitude toward Trump as obsessive, even fanatical, for they not only want for him to lose; they want for him to lose in a landslide.

Most disturbingly, NeverTrumpers seek the total humiliation of Trump and all of the Republicans, both old and new, who support him in unprecedented numbers.

Why?

I think that there are two reasons for this, one political, the other personal—very, very personal.

Politically speaking, Trump’s positions on such big topics as immigration, trade, and foreign policy clash in important respects with those taken by NeverTrumpers. It isn’t, though, that they clash with conservatism. Though they won’t tell you this, though they will have you think otherwise, the problem, as far as NeverTrumpers are concerned, is that Trump’s views on these matters clash with their neoconservatism.

And, as has been often pointed out by students of the conservative intellectual tradition in Europe and America, not only is neoconservatism not a species of conservatism; in many critical respects, it is essentially of a piece with the leftist progressivism that it purports to resist—even if it is a more moderate leftism.

This is correct: NeverTrumpers are not genuinely conservative.

Of course, that they aren’t conservative doesn’t imply that Trump is. He is not. But those of his positions that really seem to elicit the ire of neocon NeverTrumpers approximate much more closely the perspective of an older American right than anything that the NeverTrumpers have ever offered in the name of “conservatism.”

It is at this point that the political and the personal intersect.

Trump has exposed neoconservatism for the faux conservatism that it has always been. In the process, he has exposed them as the frauds that they have always been. The neocon brand and its advertisers have been severely damaged (whether they have been irrevocably damaged is another question).

Yet Trump has continually left neocon politicians and their media apologists with eggs on their faces:

In a 17 person GOP presidential contest, Trump came from nowhere to crush the best, brightest, and most skilled that the party had to offer—all the while drawing in record numbers of primary voters. From the moment that he entered the race throughout the better part of the year, those who for decades had been regarded as “conservative movement” oracles and gurus, writers and talking heads on television and radio, repeatedly assured us that Trump’s demise was imminent, even as he just as often proved them wrong—spectacularly, epically wrong.

Trump further reinforced the impression of incompetence and dishonesty on the part of neoconservatives when he expressly, unabashedly called out their Iraq War for the catastrophic failure that time has shown it to be. He went beyond this, however, to name names and specifically charge “conservative” President George W. Bush and his administration with having lied in order to drag America overseas.

And Trump did all of this in the midst of a primary debate in, of all places, South Carolina, a state in which Bush continued to enjoy considerable popularity and whose most well-known elected representatives openly endorsed Marco Rubio.

Still, Trump prevailed with ease in the Palmetto State.

While they make effort after effort to shame Trump, Trump’s record of successes has continually shamed the NeverTrumpers. He has put their very integrity, to say nothing of relevance, into radical question. Thus, his neocon critics are aching for him to lose royally in November so that they can have the satisfaction, at long last, of saying, after nearly 18 months of being wrong, that they were right.

Of course, even if Trump loses, only arrogance that is as invincible as the ignorance that they have shown up to this point could permit them to claim that they knew he would lose.

But such is the frame of the mind of a neocon NeverTrumper.

‘Tis the season for pollsters.

As pollsters ad nauseum bombard us between now and November with a dizzying array of ever-fluctuating numbers, voters would be well-served to bear in mind that for all of their idealistic Democracy talk of “the will of the voter,” they know that the latter exists only as an object to be manipulated.

The 20th century English conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott put the epistemological point well when he noted that what we see depends upon how we look. You can take it to the bank that those in the media treat this proposition just as axiomatically as did Oakeshott.

And polling “data” is one especially effective device by which they seek to shape—not inform—their audiences’ perspective.

The pollster has occupied in politics a place equivalent in importance to that which the priest has traditionally occupied in the Catholic Church: Just as the priest has been regarded as speaking infallibly when speaking about certain matters pertaining to the faith, so too has the pollster been regarded similarly when he speaks to political matters. The pollster can also exploit the contemporary mystique revolving around “science” through his numbers-crunching—even if it is only “social science.”

Joseph A. Schumpeter was an early 20th century political theorist who exposed long ago the metaphysical fiction of the rational voter presupposed by “the classical doctrine of democracy.” This fiction remains very much in play today—as evidenced by the use of polling data and the like.

To put the point another way, Schumpeter argued convincingly that media partisans manipulate voters.

The ideal of democracy ascribes to “the will of the individual an independence and a rational quality that are altogether unrealistic.” The reality is that the voter’s will is “an indeterminate bundle of vague impulses loosely playing about given slogans and mistaken impressions.” Such an entity cannot “observe and interpret correctly the facts that are directly accessible to everyone and…sift critically the information about the facts that are not.”

This being so, it follows that, standard clichés aside, “the will of the citizen per se” is not “entitled to respect,” for only if “everyone would…know definitely what he wants to stand for” would such respect be warranted.

Yet this is most certainly not the case.

If the voter’s will was something determinate, then its assessment of facts, “according to the rules of logical inference,” should permit each person to render “a clear and prompt conclusion as to particular issues,” a conclusion of such “a high degree of general efficiency” that “one man’s opinion could be held…to be roughly as good as every other man’s.”

Moreover, this reasoning would have to transpire “independently of pressure groups and propaganda, for volitions and inferences that are imposed upon the electorate obviously do not qualify for ultimate data of the democratic process.”

Schumpeter observes that “the popular will” is “manufactured” in “exactly” the same ways in which the consumer’s will is manufactured via “commercial advertising.” He notes that we “find the same attempts to contact the subconscious,” “the same technique of creating favorable and unfavorable associations which are more effective the less rational they are.” The popular will is manufactured by way of “the same evasions and reticences and the same trick of producing opinion by reiterated assertion that is successful precisely to the extent to which it avoids rational argument and the danger of awakening the critical faculties of the people.”

To repeat: The voter’s will “is largely not a genuine but a manufactured will.”

Schumpeter’s point is not that the voter is irrational in all areas of his life. Quite the contrary, for regarding those decisions in everyday life whose effects on him are immediately felt, he can usually be counted on to act rationally. But “when we move…farther away from the private concerns of the family and the business office” and toward, say, the domain of a presidential election, “individual volition, command of facts and method of inference” subside.

To put it more brusquely, “the typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field.” That is, he “argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again. His thinking becomes associative and affective.”

Along with ads, commentary, and, yes, “journalism,” polls are designed to “manufacture,” not reflect, the will of the voter.

 

 

 

 

 

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