An American First, Always, and Last: a Response to Critics

My last essay, "Identity Politics: the denial of American Exceptionalism," drew quite a lot of fire for its specific condemnation of white nationalism, a point that was, in fact, not the primary focus of the article.  The article rather broadly asserts that identity politics by any group of people -- minority groups, as well as European-Americans -- is destructive and ultimately contrary to the exceptional basis of our society.

The piece, as well as a previous one, entitled "Sole Loyalty: the Identity Politics of Immigration Reform," was reposted to the white nationalist website American Renaissance. 

Regardless of the fact that these discussions took a strongly anti-amnesty and pro-conservative approach, each piece nevertheless received vitriolic condemnation from some readers.  In a response that betrays the raw tribal rage that underlies all identity-based political movements, some readers commented by pointing out what they assumed was my ethnicity and birth and frankly boasted of the accomplishments of our Founding Fathers, as if they were their own, stating in so many words that only European-Americans are "true" Americans.  This however, was somewhat expected.

More surprising was the response penned by Charles Bloch, a self-described "Jewish Supporter of Pat Buchanan" published at VDare and entitled "American Thinker Disses 'White Nationalism' - a.k.a. American Patriotism."

My first reaction was to think of Groucho Marx's comment to S.J. Perelman about the book Dawn Ginsbergh's Revenge in which Marx stated, "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it."

But out of deference to Mr. Bloch, I did read his piece. 

The essay starts off with an explication on the differences between "white nationalism" and "racial realism" -- denoting, presumably, a distinction between a desire to dominate and exclude by "white nationalists" and the desire merely to separate, as espoused by "realists" -- and then disjointedly quotes the "monsters to destroy" soliloquy of John Quincy Adams, so frequently cited as the basis for contemporary American isolationism, in an effort to mitigate the pan-European nature of white nationalism.

The coup de grâce of Bloch's piece arrives when he quotes early-twentieth-century playwright Israel Zangwill's triumphal work "The Melting Pot" in support of his contention that America is in fact a European blood-and-soil state. 

Israel Zangwill was a champion for feminism and organized labor and served as one of the spiritual fathers of left-wing Labor Zionism.  "The Melting Pot," grandiloquently cited by Bloch, also contains the following statement about America, in the words of the play's protagonist:

No, the real American has not yet arrived. He is only in the Crucible, I tell you - he will be the fusion of all races, perhaps the coming superman.

Thus Zangwill speaks of the coming mixed race, multicultural prototypical American.  In an earlier time, they called that "miscegenation"; I seem to remember that white nationalists (or white supremacists, or racial "realists") have a pretty clear position on this issue.  Undoubtedly the hearts of Klansmen and neo-Nazis throughout America are warming with the knowledge that their agenda and vision of the United States, as suggested by Bloch, are fully supported by Israel Zangwill.

After throwing the Zangwill haymaker Rich taps out with the self-satisfied conclusion that white nationalism is in fact one and the same with "good old fashioned American patriotism."  Therefore, citizens whose ancestors did not come from Europe are definitionally incapable of American patriotism.  Without further argument or analysis, for now, I will respond only by saying that this notion is false, historically inaccurate, and patently offensive.

Finally, Bloch's ostentatious Jewish self-identification and his eagerness to jump into the fray on behalf of a movement that with few notable exceptions is characterized by pronounced anti-Semitism reminds me of yet another phrase of Groucho Marx: "I would never belong to any club that would have me as a member."

After the Rich essay, a more lengthy response written by Jack Kerwick, who runs a blog called "The Philosopher's Fortress: In Pursuit of the Naked Truth," was published by American Thinker.

His piece is entitled "American Exceptionalism and Identity Politics."  According to Kerwick, I argue that "the former is good, and the latter is bad." 

This is a fair characterization.

However, from this succinct introduction, Kerwick's response devolves into a somewhat obtuse discussion of the origins of classical liberalism (today known as conservatism) in the philosophy of Edmund Burke, peppered with a few ad hominem attacks, strained analogies, oddly out-of-place references, and a few factual errors. 

In his heavy reliance upon Edmund Burke, Kerwick is on shaky ground.

Burke was a member of the British Nobility who sat on the House of Lords during the American Revolution.  Burke defended the concept of prejudice as a valuable social commodity and as a ready tool for decision-making, obviating the need for introspection and judgment.  Burke also was skeptical, if not overtly disdainful of Democracy, and argued that governing power should be vested within society's hereditary elite, rather than within regularly elected officials from the common population.  

Additionally, as Kerwick correctly notes, Burke is known chiefly for opposing the concept of natural law, and arguing that the rights and freedoms enjoyed by men are a product of their cultural inheritance rather than any higher "abstract" principle.  On this point Kerwick states:

Like the Jacobins of the eighteenth century in reply to whose abstract and universalistic ideology Edmund Burke formulated the most eloquent statement of what has since been recognized as conservatism, Malik is guilty of precisely the same charges that Burke leveled against his rivals. Malik is guilty, not just of error, but of hubris.

One of Burke's "rivals" was American Patriot and Founding Father Thomas Paine.  Tom Paine so strongly disagreed with Burke, that Paine was inspired to pen the revolutionary pamphlet "The Rights of Man" in response to Burke's derogation of natural law.  In this document, Paine forcefully argues that the legitimacy of any government derives only from the consent of the governed, and that rights belong to men as a product of the Creator, not by virtue of earthly inheritance or royal decree.

"The Rights of Man" was deemed so revolutionary that it was banned in England, and Paine was tried in absentia for sedition.  Yet the ideas it espouses are merely a reflection of the ideas that constitute the foundation of our country as set forth in the Declaration of Independence.  Indeed, the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" are the purest expression of natural law ever formulated in a political document.

If I am accused of the same crimes as Tom Paine, let me be guilty as charged; I am in good company.

Kerwick then proceeds to disprove a series of straw man arguments that I never made, proclaiming that the Founding Fathers should not "be apologetic" for their culture, and that there is no "universal entitlement to American citizenship."  I have not said otherwise, nor would I.

In another non sequitur, Kerwick mentions Thomas Sowell -- not to support his thesis substantively, but as apparent window-dressing for what is otherwise a faint-hearted but highly verbose attempt to either prop up or un-define white supremacy.  In case we thought Sowell was Chinese, Ukrainian, Inuit, or Chamorro, Kerwick clears it up: he is "a black thinker."  Thus, along with his citation to Carol Swain, who has written on white nationalism, who he also helpfully points out "is black," Kerwick attempts to construct a fig leaf to cover his naked white nationalist apologetics.

Motoring along, Kerwick cites Charles Murray, co-author of the controversial 1994 book The Bell Curve, as authority for an off-topic argument about racial trends in human IQ.  Presumably to add philo-semitic gravitas to his discussion Kerwick tells us Murray is "a Jew."  Perhaps Kerwick intended Murray Rosenblatt, the Mathematics professor at UC San Diego, or Murray Rothbard, the famed libertarian and leader of the Austrian School of Economics, for Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, is Scots-Irish and, alas, not "a Jew."

Kerwick then attempts to justify tribal politics by making an analogy that leads me to believe that he actually thinks that all white Americans may be related to each other in some form of a geometrically expanded polygamous marriage, which frankly leaves me at a loss for words.

Most disturbing, however, is Kerwick's outright denial of American Exceptionalism.  He states that the very notion of American Exceptionalism itself is merely a subterfuge "designed to conceal the racial, ethnic, and religious dimensions of the founding and history of America."  His repudiation of its very essence comes in the form of this declaration:

[N]o one believes that what fundamentally distinguishes our country from every other, what renders it "exceptional," is that we eschew racially, ethnically, and religiously-oriented intolerance while other nations do not.

 Kerwick is not asking, he is telling: "No one believes" this.  But let us hear from Tom Paine.

Every spot of the Old World is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe, Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her as a stranger and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive and prepare in time an asylum for mankind. - Common Sense, 1776

The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety. - Common Sense, 1776

Would John Adams agree?

I always consider the settlement of America with Reverence and Wonder-- as the Opening of a grand scene and Design in Providence, for the Illumination of the Ignorant and the Emancipation of the slavish Part of Mankind all over the Earth.- Diary of John Adams, 1765

This nation's first Republican president and guardian of the Union, Abraham Lincoln -- how would he respond?

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. - The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

What about 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, who returned pride to this country after the post-Watergate malaise?

I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still. - Farewell address to the nation, January 11, 1989

Ultimately Kerwick's essay is what Steven Sailer calls a "self-refuting article."  After zig-zagging among the multicultural cast of supporting characters that he has pressed into service (some of which are actually black, but none Jewish), Kerwick closes the piece by proclaiming his belief that the United States is founded upon the principle of the Rule of Law.

Again, finally we are in agreement.  Yet, to arrive at this conclusion, Kerwick willfully ignores the obvious infantile self-absorption and narcissism of all identarian movements and illogically suggests that white nationalism simply seeks that altruistic goal of restoring the rule of law, while minority identity-based groups only want benefits for themselves.  But either way, what is a blood-and-soil state, if not "a nation of men," rather than a nation of laws? 

Kerwick's's torturous musings aside, identity politics has no benign form and no expiration date, but instead is inherently rapacious, all-consuming, and ultimately nihilistic.  A "nation of laws," as approved of by Kerwick, is inherently a nation based upon principles, ethics, and norms -- what so many white nationalists, including Bloch and his hero, "Pitchfork Pat" Buchanan, derisively call the "proposition nation."

America is truly the first and best example of a "nation of laws"; this combined with the genius of its founders and their superior cultural traditions is what makes it exceptional.

Moreover, true white nationalists, at least the honest ones, will admit that white nationalism is a denial and rejection of American patriotism.  The comments at American Renaissance tell the story.

America was only America when it was WHITE. It no longer is,(at least REAL Whites) so it is not MY America.

I totally agree that White nationalism is not American patriotism. I feel about America about the same way the 19th century Irish immigrants felt about the English occupiers, the same way the Florida Cubans feel about Castro, the same way Jews feel about Hitler, the same way any dispossessed people feel about those who have dispossessed them.

America is the enemy of Whites. America is well into a program to exterminate us. Why should Whites be patriotic?

Apologists like Bloch and Kerwick might like to interpret these comments as the rantings of a few malcontented individuals, not representing the movement's true ideals, but this would be untrue.  In a 2001 article by published in VDare, entitled "The Dangerous Myth of American Exceptionalism" the author, Joseph E. Fallon, proclaims that American Exceptionalism is "a lie agreed upon."  Fallon further states:

The myth of American exceptionalism has transformed the United States from a federal republic with limited constitutional powers into an "evil empire" and a "rogue state."

Finally, Fallon concludes, "[t]he Constitutional Convention did not create American exceptionalism; it destroyed it."  Reasonable men can disagree about the truth of this statement, but honest men cannot disagree as to its meaning.

Clearly, like the far left's rejection of American patriotism, the racial right's denial is unequivocal.  To the extent that Bloch and Kerwick attempt to say otherwise, they are far more royalist than the crown, and simply dead wrong.

Certain points regarding our nation's presently destructive path and the lack of fairness to white Americans need to be made; I have attempted to make those points regarding race in an entirely unbigoted manner.  But in truth, men possessing the erudition and civility of Jared Taylor and VDare's Peter Brimelow, or the wit and good nature of Steven Sailor making the same points are the very rare exception.  The reality is that all identity-based political movements possess a seething, malevolent, and outraged undercurrent characterized by easy provocation to anger, redolent of victimhood and conspiracy theories.  These movements stand against America, so I stand against them.

As stated above, the goal of my writing is to tell the truth as I see it.  The left can be censorious and sanctimonious, but the right also has its own brand of political correctness.  Along the way, I will undoubtedly offend some people on both ends of the political spectrum.  For this I make no apologies.   

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world."