The public clash over Confederate monuments today underscores why so many right wingers embrace Rebel icons. For many on the Right, the Confederacy embodies conservatism’s core tenant that privilege for the minority rests on dominating the majority. Rights for me, but not for thee.
Charlottesville’s Lara Rogers let’s pro-Confederate demonstrator Allen Armentrout know how she feels.It’s America, 2017, and white supremacy is all the rage once again. But it’s not like we didn’t see this coming. When a certain boorish Manhattan tycoon announced his run for the presidency back in June 2015 on a platform of pure white resentment, the internet’s copious population of pasty, man-child nematodes crawled out of their literal and digital basements to voice their support for a candidate who vowed to give a voice to America’s most oppressed group: white males.
From the dankest bowels of the internet, on sites such as 4chan, Occidental Dissent, and the Daily Stormer, white supremacists celebrated Donald Trump’s unlikely presidential victory. Now, well into the first year of his presidency, they continue to stand behind their orange führer. This support was on full display on August 11 in Charlottesville, Virginia, when various gobs of reactionary slime — including neo-Nazis, the Alt-Right, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederates, and gun-toting militia members — oozed together for a “Unite the Right” rally. While these various groups ostensibly gathered to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park, this event was actually a “coming out” party for a resurgent form of white-identity politics in America emboldened by Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency.
Plenty of historians have already written about the controversy surrounding the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces throughout the United States. But I’m going to emphasize another key element that fuels the white nationalist agenda: patriarchal gender oppression. Underlying all of the “pro-white” bluster and neo-Confederate ideology of the new crop of white supremacists is a deep contempt for female empowerment. The trifecta of patriarchy, misogyny, and gendered paternalism has been central to American whiteness for hundreds of years. Gender oppression is baked into the crust of white supremacy.