'Every Man His Own Commissar': Jared Taylor and the Politics of Race
Good manners are infectious. Jared Taylor’s civility and dapper appearance impress even those sending him death threats: the most recent one addresses him as “Mr. Taylor.” In an age when even upper-class Brits loosen the upper lip and revert to first names after one email exchange, we remained “Mr.” and “Mr.”
Taylor, founder of American Renaissance and New Century Foundation, usually appears in public in a jacket and tie, though he sheds the latter for his infrequent speeches on campuses. Men at the annual Am Ren conference are also required to wear jackets and ties, the women, dresses. “It acts like classical music at a mall,” Taylor says.
His accent is hard to place. He aspirates the “h” in words like “white,” a genteel habit that went out of fashion in the ‘60s. He does not quite sound like a contemporary American; his diction is a little too precise.
But then he didn’t grow up in this country. The son of missionaries, Taylor spent his first 16 years in Japan. He speaks that language like a native -- he is still mistaken for Japanese over the phone.
Taylor was raised a liberal, and four years at Yale did nothing to disillusion him. After graduating with a degree in philosophy, and already fluent in French, he went on to the prestigious Sciences Po in Paris (l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris -- fewer than 10% of applicants are accepted), where he studied international economics and received a diplome, the equivalent of a masters. Taylor worked as a banker and journalist, serving as West Coast Editor of PC Magazine, and is now a private consultant for firms doing business in Japan.
For his many critics, the civility, reasonableness, and impressive c.v. are all a veneer. Beneath the polished exterior beats the heart of a racist. Taylor denies the charge: he is a “race realist” not a “racist.” But this is a distinction without a difference to opponents. He believes the differences in White and Black crime rates, academic and intelligence test scores, and other variances in behavior and outlook are largely attributable to genetic differences, the result of adaptation to different environments over the course of 50,000 years. This, of course, is heresy. It’s compounded by his conviction that the civilization created by Europeans during the past 2500 years is jeopardized by an unprecedented influx of non-Europeans into the European homelands.
There was no single epiphany after Yale and Sciences Po. “I clung to liberal fantasies as long as I could. It is pleasant to feel oneself superior to mean-spirited conservatives. Agreeable delusion fought a slow, losing battle against disagreeable reality.”
But he later recalled one turning point: a conversation with an African student at the University of Monrovia in Liberia in 1975.
“I had just come from the Ivory Coast, which, by West African standards, was wealthy and well run. As soon as I crossed the border into Liberia, the road was full of huge potholes, the buildings were shacks, and the people were in rags.
“I always made a practice when visiting a new country to go to the main university in the capital and find smart people to talk to. At the University of Liberia, I asked a student why Ivory Coast was well run but Liberia was a wreck. Without a pause, he said, ‘It's because we did not have the benefit of being colonized by the French.’
“At that time I was still a liberal on race, and his answer hit me like a thunderbolt. I took it for granted, as liberals do, that colonialism was exploitation, but here was an African calmly telling me that it explained why Ivory Coast was more advanced than Liberia.”
His experience growing up as a Caucasian in race-conscious Japan may not have affected his views on race, but it did give him a more nuanced perspective on the Japanese than most American scholars and journalists, misled by the fondness of the natives for Beethoven and scotch, and convinced they were thoroughly Westernized. Taylor’s first book was a jaundiced look at the Japanese Miracle. Shadows of the Rising Sun was well-timed. Within less than half a dozen years, the bubble burst.
Four years later, in 1992, Taylor published Paved With Good Intentions.
The book is an exhaustive indictment of Affirmative Action both for its effect on Whites, its invisible victims, and on African-Americans.
Taylor describes the unfairness of reverse discrimination, the wholesale abandonment of tests for applicants to police and fire departments, and the subordination of test results by admissions officers at colleges and law schools -- tests that are non-discriminatory and excellent predictors of performance. (In 1982, the National Academy of Sciences undertook a thorough study of standardized tests and found no cultural biases.) But the most depressing chapter documents the life of the African-American underclass. After 25 years of a cornucopia of social programs -- federal spending on education soared from 2.8 to 6.8% of GDP in just 15 years -- most Blacks were worse off than before the Civil Rights Act of 1965 -- which, of course, had promised only to end discrimination against minorities, not to introduce preferential treatment for them. The book shows graphically just how grim life was for children growing up in the nation’s ghettos, c. 1990. (When 5 hours elapsed without a murder in New York City one day that year, it was headline news.)
Taylor was interested in the demonization of whites that was the justification for the continuation of failed policies, and the double standard that permitted Blacks to speak freely and abusively about Whites, but gagged the melanin-deficient. There’s also a brief mention of immigration, an experiment in “multi-racial nation-building that is without precedent in the history of the world.”
It was these issues that would be explored in his next book, White Identity, but nineteen years would elapse before he would publish it.
In the interim, Taylor founded the New Century Foundation and launched American Renaissance. Why not an organization working directly for his political goals, ending racial preferences and reducing immigration?
“The decision probably reflects my own nature. I like ideas, and I like reading and writing. If I were, by nature, a community organizer I would run an activist organization -- heck, I might be President.” There will be no political change, he felt, “until we have been more successful in education.”
AmRen began as a monthly magazine and became a website in 1996. The printed magazine was dropped in 2012.
The site combines original articles and book reviews -- five current ones appear on a slider across the top -- and news articles for viewers to comment on, à la Free Republic. It also produces videos. The most recent one is on the history of immigration policy in the U.S.
The original articles range widely. Recent subjects include “Hip Hop Hegemony,” Black coaches in the NFL, and Enoch Powell . About half, though, are book reviews. Currently up: a history of Liberia, a biography of the explorer H. M. Stanley, and a new book by UC Davis economist Gregory Clark, The Son Also Rises, attacking the consensus about social mobility. Just displaced was a long, thoughtful review by Taylor himself of N.Y. Times science reporter Nicholas Wade’s forthcoming book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History.
The linked news articles include research by geneticists, behavioral psychologists, and demographers; reports from European sources on nationalist movements on the continent; and, occasionally, opinion pieces from elsewhere. There are also stories about flagrant impositions of political correctness, or the loopy opinions of pop cultural icons and politicians. But a good number, and those attracting the most comments, are reports of particularly brutal crimes or other pathological behavior by African-Americans, Hispanics, or Muslims.
One of the services of the internet is to make local news national news. Most of the crime stories are submitted by readers from local media. A surprising number, however, come from the Daily Mail and other UK papers, which are much less inhibited in reporting such subversive information -- and the grim news from South Africa as well.
Asked about the difficulties of administering the site -- preserving First Amendment rights that are almost non-existent outside of the internet, but eliminating offensive comments, and then asked to define “offensive,” Taylor preferred to talk about good manners.
“When people can post comments anonymously, they often write crude, offensive things they would never say to someone’s face. At first I was surprised and disappointed -- how could people who generally agree with us be so uncivilized? -- but every website has this problem. Most of our commenters learn good manners eventually; those who don’t get the boot.”
But if commenters don’t use vulgar language, they are free to say what they like about African-Americans, and of course the stories of heinous crimes are red meat to readers. While it may be cathartic for Whites to write things they are unable to say in public under the multicultural regime, the comments on the news stories undoubtedly lend credence to the familiar accusation of “hate-mongering.”
The crime stories sometimes inspire more interesting comments: accounts by readers of their own experiences with minorities and with the enforcers of multiculturalism. Blacks, just under 13% of the population, commit 52% of murders and still higher percentages of other violent crimes, and about 90% of all inter-racial violence is attacks by Blacks on Whites. So lots of readers have first-hand experience of the subject. Some have written about the transformation of their neighborhoods or towns. Other news stories generate more amusing anecdotes: tipping by Blacks in restaurants, adventures at the DMV, etc.
Still, the stream of abuse is depressing, and it troubles Taylor.
“I wish our commenters were better behaved. I agree that they are sometimes mean-spirited, and I wish nothing ever appeared on the site that was mean-spirited.
“On the other hand, I don't like censorship, and deleting comments is a kind of censorship. This is a dilemma faced by all sites that permit commenting.”
Derogatory comments about Asians, less frequent, naturally, sometimes elicit counter-attacks by others. One of the divisions among readers seems to be between “White Nationalists,” who want to see the return of a White ethnostate, and color-blind “race realists,” who admire East Asians for their high IQs and test scores and low crime rates, and, occasionally, Hispanics for their work ethic. The defenders are are usually outnumbered and outgunned.
Some stories inspire outbursts of antisemitism. The comments receiving the most positive ratings on a recent report about research on the slave trade in early medieval Eastern Europe blame this on the Jews and defend pogroms. In fact the trade was carried out by Scandinavians, the original “Rus,” who founded the great entrepôts of Novgorod and Kiev and shipped blondes along with grain, furs, wax, and honey down the Volga and Dnieper to the Caspian and the Black Sea.
Like the vilifications of Asians, negative comments on Jews will also sometimes get sharp responses. From the occasional complaints of those making antisemitic comments and the sly and oblique way Jews are referred to, one gathers there is some censorship of antisemitism.
On “the Jewish question,” Taylor seems to walk a tightrope.
On the one hand, he has written, “People who are constantly talking about and complaining about Jewish influence remind me of blacks who think that everything that’s ever gone wrong for blacks is because of white racism. I think that blacks need to be responsible for the their successes and failures and whites do as well.” About half the speakers at the first AmRen conference were Jewish, and Jews continue to attend conferences and support the organization. Antisemitic intellectuals like Kevin MacDonald do not write for the site nor are invited to conferences. (There are, incidentally, occasional Black, Asian, and American Indian contributors of articles. These tend to be unusual individuals.)
When David Duke rose from the audience at the 2006 AmRen conference and addressed members and was rebuked by a Jewish participant, physicist Michael Hart, Taylor’s response was regarded as too tepid by Hart’s defenders, while fans of the former Grand Wizard thought he’d come down too hard on their man. The antisemitic right considers him a panderer.
Taylor acknowledges the animosity of a lot of his followers toward Jews: “Racially conscious whites tend to be suspicious of Jews for two reasons. First, Jews have been prominent in the effort to demonize any sense of white identity. Second, Zionist Jews support an ethnostate for Jews -- Israel -- while they generally promote diversity for America and Europe. This is annoying, but understandable for historical reasons.”
With 1.7 million Arabs, over 20% of the population, Israel is of course hardly an ethnostate. There was good reason these citizens, almost alone in the Middle East, took no part in the “Arab Spring”: they have all the rights of Jewish Israelis except the obligation to serve in the army and have no wish to be governed by the brutal and corrupt “Palestinian” parties. And many more American Jews are leftists rather than Zionists, and a number have been vocal critics of Israel. It is certainly true, though, that Jewish organizations have strongly supported open borders, ignoring the fact that the values of the 21st century’s “huddled masses” don’t bode well for Jews. And organizations like the ADL have led the attack on First Amendment rights.
Is Taylor then a “White Nationalist”?
He rejects the term: “To me, it has an unpleasant whiff of gunpowder. One thinks of Basque nationalists and Kurdish nationalists. But,” he adds, “I entirely agree with the concept of an ethnostate that reflects the heritage and aspirations of a people.” He prefers the French word “identitaire,” but there’s no English equivalent.
“There is no good term for racially conscious white people. This is because their views were taken for granted and needed no name. How did contemporaries characterize the racial view of Thomas Jefferson -- or those of Abraham Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt or of Woodrow Wilson? There was no word for someone with their views for the same reason there was no word for someone who expected the sun to rise in the East or who loved his own children more than he loved the children of strangers: Our language does not need words for unnecessary distinctions. My views on race are natural, normal, healthy, and entirely moral, just as Lincoln’s were.”
But can they be the basis for a political movement?
When the Prussian General August von Gneisenau wrote a passionate letter to King Frederick William in 1811 urging that he call a levée en masse and wage a war of liberation against the French occupiers of Prussia, the King wrote back, “Good, as poetry.” Gneisenau heatedly replied: “Religion, prayer, love of one’s ruler, love of fatherland -- these things are nothing else than poetry. There is no lifting of the heart that is not attuned to poetry. The man who acts only in accord with cold calculation becomes an inveterate egoist. Upon poetry is founded the security of the throne.”
Is there poetry in the word “White”? Or is it a term that defines one only in relation to non-whites, something to check off on an application? Whites may prefer to live and work among other Whites, but do they feel for them the kind of emotional bonds that are necessary for a successful political movement?
Such bonds no doubt exist among the descendants of Europeans emigrating to the U.S. after the mid-19th century. A believer in the influence of biology on behavior should not be surprised that Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, etc. would identify with their fellow ethnics, with whom they have a genetic affinity. Even if the identity rests only on a taste for the foods one ate as a child, the first phrases and gestures one learned, etc., these are powerful influences. But Taylor has a more traditional take:
“The United States actually had a melting pot that produced a new, American alloy so long as the ingredients were European. After three generations, European immigrants were largely indistinguishable in average income, education, and likelihood of marrying across European ethnic groups. Today, being Italian or Irish is not a full-fledged identity for many Americans; only a pleasant tingle on Saint Patrick’s Day or when the Italians make it to the World Cup final.”
Hyphenated Americans will have to decide for themselves the validity of this. It does mean that the access to campus for Taylor’s supporters is limited. You can set up a table for an Irish-American club or Italian-American club and maybe even a European-American club alongside the tables for the Hispanic, Asian, and Muslim organizations, but it’s going to be a lot tougher getting official recognition for a White Students’ Association.
Bonds that united White Americans are fraying in other ways. For 200 years, until the end of the ‘60s, schoolchildren learned about the heritage of Greece and Rome, read Caesar, Cicero, and Tacitus in Latin, etc. When Americans wanted to build a new city hall, bank, or post office, they constructed a Greek temple. They also studied the ideas of the Founding Fathers and learned about the unprecedented achievements of America during its first two centuries. The history of the country now taught in most schools is a litany of crimes and misdemeanors.
Taylor is both optimistic and pessimistic about the future.
On the one hand, he sees a growth of “race-realism.”
“There are two very clear signs of this. One is the comments sections of mainstream Internet news sites. More and more Americans are pointing out the obvious so long as they can remain anonymous.
“The other is the reaction I get on radio call-in programs. Years ago, I got many hostile calls. I still get hostile calls, but I am almost as likely to have to fend off flattery.”
But this doesn’t seem to be the result of cause célèbres like the Zimmerman case.
“Surprisingly, public events do not seem to change many peoples’ minds. We have published many reader accounts of what led them to shed their illusions. A few people mention the O.J. Simpson verdict or the Los Angeles riots, but most people’s eyes are opened by personal experience. There are many paths to enlightenment.”
He takes heart from the events of 1989:
“History is full of surprises. Who would have predicted the French, Russian, or American revolutions? More to the point, who predicted the collapse of Soviet Communism? Like the United States today, the Soviet Union was built on a misreading of human nature. Like America’s current orthodoxy, Communism seemed impregnable. And yet, as soon as the regime began to crumble, support melted away.
“As Horace pointed out, ‘You can drive out Nature with a pitchfork, but she always returns.’ The Soviet Union proved that a society built on illusion can last far longer than it deserved to, but people can be tricked for only so long into pretending that they are on their way to a classless society or that diversity is strength.
“It is impossible to predict what form the collapse will take. Marxism, for example, disappeared practically overnight in the Soviet Union but still survives in American universities. No system so thoroughly based on illusion can survive for ever, so American orthodoxy will collapse eventually.”
Nationalist parties are thriving in Europe, and AmRen provides good coverage of them. Interestingly, while many of Taylor’s “paleo-con” and “alternate right” allies are nearly as hostile to Israel as the American left, these parties, in Western Europe, are much more supportive of the Jewish state than mainstream parties.
“Muslim immigration explains most of the difference. Muslims are behind much of the anti-Semitism in Western Europe today, and this gives European Jews a realistic perspective both on non-European immigration and on the nationalist parties that oppose it. Muslim immigration also shapes the European nationalist view of Israel as a land of fellow Westerners fighting a hostile Islamic tide.”
But the American political system works against the creation of viable third parties here.
“The United States is one of the least democratic of democracies, in that our system practically bars the door against anyone not a Republican or a Democrat. Who is served by such an oppressive system? Why, the very Republicans and Democrats who pass our laws and the lobbies that cultivate them. It is this closed political structure, not a lack of racial identity, that prevents political progress.
“Imagine a system of proportional representation, and a list of attractive race-realist candidates. How many votes would we win? Fifteen percent? Twenty percent? A majority of the white vote in the rural South? As parliamentary democracies in Europe show, numbers like that have a powerful impact on policy.”
So what will the U.S. look like in 2034?
“Mark Twain pointed out that it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future. I can imagine a rapid disintegration of illusions, perhaps stimulated by nationalist breakthroughs in Europe, but I can also imagine marching down the road to nowhere for another 20 years.
“By 2034, if current trends continue, the United States will have a bare majority of whites, many of whom will be elderly. The working-age population will be heavily black and Hispanic. To give you an idea of what sort of country we will have, I could cite endless statistics on rates of crime, AIDS, diabetes, poverty, welfare dependence, etc. but I’ll cite just one figure. By the time they graduate from high school, blacks and Hispanics are reading and doing math at the level of the average white 8th grader. That will not have changed in 20 years, and it will mean we are well on our way to becoming another Brazil.
“We will have a painfully stratified society, run by a mixed elite that keeps the masses of poor browns and blacks at a safe distance. Our rulers will continue to mouth slogans about equality and redemption-through-diversity but their lives will be even more hypocritical than they are today. They will live in fortified enclaves, and will increasingly see America not as a beloved nation whose destiny they hold in trust but as a herd to be milked. In 20 years, their cynicism will have begun to dull the patriotism even of Southern whites.
“Our increasingly Third-World and unproductive population will force more cities into bankruptcy, and the federal government will lurch from crisis to crisis. Our decline in world stature will not be graceful.
“There will still be pockets of white civility, but only for the wealthy. The middle class will shrink, as school quality declines and more and more whites are forced into low-wage service jobs. Marriage will increasingly be a relic practiced only by the elite, and more whites will copy the degenerate behavior of the black and Hispanic underclasses.
“We will slowly lose the public trust and moral infrastructure that prevents bribery, nepotism, kickbacks, and government looting. Politicians will begin to buy and rig elections, especially at the local level. Fewer people will feel they have a stake in society, so there will be less volunteer work or charitable giving.
“Too pessimistic? Show me trends that prove me wrong.”
Taylor’s views, according to political elites, their media allies, and the indoctrinated, are not only wrong, but evil.
“When I began this work 25 years ago, I was naïve enough to think that because I am right and have a pure heart, I could reach and persuade ever larger numbers of people. I did not understand the forces opposed to me or how fearful Americans have become.
“There are powerful organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, that do their best to silence me. If I am on a television or radio program, they call the producer to explain that despite my reasonable tone I am a ‘hate-monger’ who must not be allowed on the air again. If they learn that I have been invited to give a talk, they call the organization that invited me and try to persuade it to cancel the talk.
“At first, I was astonished by this kind of thuggery. Americans claim to be devoted to free speech, but they are not. It is disgraceful that organizations whose purpose is not to refute their opponents but simply to squash and silence them have any credibility at all. And yet the media routinely cite these groups as if they were so blissfully wise that they can read my mind and tell you what I really think.
“People who immigrated from the Soviet Union were amazed to find that Americans are more afraid of the ‘diversity’ regime than Russians were of the Communists. And at least under the Soviets there was a clear enemy: the censors and the secret police. In America -- the land of the free -- every man is his own commissar.”
When they are not abruptly cancelled, Taylor’s appearances on campus have been disrupted. When the organization tried to place ads in more than a dozen college newspapers saying simply “Is diversity a strength? We think not. For an alternate view: AmRen.com,” no paper would run the ad. New Century Foundation holds an annual conference in April. This year’s is the 25th through 27th, outside Nashville. In 2010 and 2011 it was scrubbed at the last minute because of threats to the hotels hosting the events. The website was taken down by hackers just last Sunday.
Though his first two books had received glowing reviews from the likes of the Wall Street Journal and sold well, two agents were unable to find a publisher for White Identity. NCF published the book. Taylor is not in bad company: the foundation is the publisher of what is easily the best book on Affirmative Action in college, law and medical school admissions, The Affirmative Action Hoax by former Professor of Classics at University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Steven Farron. But Taylor’s book has not received the attention it would have if it had been released by a commercial press.
Even those who question the viability of White nationalism or disagree with it in principle, and who would argue that creed is more important than color and that they would rather spend an evening with Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Clarence Thomas, etc. than with any White liberal, have to be troubled by the machinations of the P.C. regime.
The First Amendment was the first Amendment for a reason. It will not be defended in federal courts until a Republican President is willing to appoint judges who respect the Constitution. I’m told there are a few out there.
In the meantime, those who value free speech ought to think about doing what they can to retire the word “racist.” A member of La Raza is not a racist; a European-American who questions preferential treatment for minorities is. The word is a slur, with all the sophistication and precision of “commie” or “Nazi.” Today it says more about the intelligence of the accuser than the sins of the accused.