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.
Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri hold up their hands and chant “Don’t Shoot!” In the eyes of many white Americans, they’re just some good ole’ fashioned dangerous negroes. Photo by Lucas Jackson for Reuters.
In America, nothing is ever about race, except when it’s about race. You see, Americans have this little problem about race and historical perspective: since day-one, we’ve been wrestling over the so obvious-it’s-not-obvious paradox that stems from one of our most cherished documents proclaiming that “All Men are Created Equal” in a society where this has patently not been the case. The fact that the guy who wrote those inspiring words was a slave-owning, black concubine-schtupping product of imperialist era racialized thinking — in addition to being a brilliant statesman and enlightened political theorist — perfectly captures the mind-bending level of irony that stands at the heart of America’s experience when it comes to race. For over 2oo years, Americans have been alternating between grasping the wolf of slavery by the Ears and letting the beast go — and then trying to deal with the entailing racial consequences.
The execution gurney used to administer lethal injection. Damn, it’s actually pretty scary-looking.
Clayton Lockett’s last minutes on this earthly plane were, by any stretch of the imagination, rough. The state of Oklahoma executed Lockett by lethal injection on April 29, 2014, but something went wrong, and he apparently struggled for over a half-hour before finally dying of a drug-induced heart attack. Lockett’s botched execution has raised more concerns about what constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” as prohibited by the Constitution, and rekindled the long-running debate over whether America should still administer the death penalty.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela meets with former U.S. President Bill Clinton at the 2002 International Aids Conference.
This week one of the towering figures of twentieth century politics passed from his mortal coil. Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, died at the age of 95, leaving a legacy that stretches beyond the limits of South Africa and even his own lifetime. Heck, Mandela’s legacy is one that challenges what had been among the core ideologies of the modern world dating back at least to the 18th century: white supremacy as practiced via the supposed inherent right of European powers to subjugate non-white, non-European peoples.
Mandela was, of course, the first black president of South Africa, a nation whose modern history is framed largely through the prism of its brutal system of racial segregation known as Apartheid. Mandela spent 27 years in prison as punishment for his lifelong fight against institutional racism, and his greatness as a symbol of human resistance in the face of adversity is now forever sealed. I mean, Morgan Freeman even played Mandela in a movie, and if that doesn’t attest to the South African president’s greatness, nothing else will.
Racial Propaganda Cartoon, Demonstrating White Fear of “Negro Rule,” North Carolina, 1900.
In American history, everything is about race. Even when an issue has nothing to do with race, Americans of certain stripes will find a way to make it about race. A case in point is the August 16, 2013 murder of Australian national Christopher Lane by three teenagers in Duncan, Oklahoma. An outraged Australian press seized on the incident to criticize the widespread availability of guns in the United States, which allegedly resulted in a cold-blooded slaying by three kids who were “bored and didn’t have anything to do.” Meanwhile, as Adam Serwer observes, the various American right-wing media propaganda outlets, who specialize in stoking a completely fabricated persecution complex among the country’s privileged, white, Ralph Kramden clones seized on Australian reports that erroneously identified the three suspects as black to claim that Lane was gunned down by blacks specifically because he was white.