When Everybody Is a White Supremacist
For a long time, liberals have been accusing conservatives of being conspiracy theorists. Say anything about Hunter Biden, and you're a conspiracy theorist. Urge Andrew Cuomo to resign, and you're a conspiracy theorist.
Now it's worse. Conservatives aren't just conspiracy theorists; they're white supremacists. Like those who defend Georgia's voting reforms designed to protect the integrity of the election. Or any person or business that lives or operates in Georgia. For the left, anyone associated with a bill designed to prevent voter fraud, and so deny Democrats permanent power, is a white supremacist.
Maybe that was the point of Biden's attack on "extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism" in his inaugural address. Democrats are seeing white supremacists everywhere they look — like the New Republic, which in 2017 suggested that Trump's economic agenda of returning manufacturing jobs to America was "white supremacist." Or the accusation elsewhere that Trump ignored supposed connections between the police and white supremacists, or the supposed Alt-Right "bridge between conservatism and white supremacism" (so now "conservatism" in general is "white supremacist"?).
Once again, liberal thinking has followed the race to the bottom, whereby anything one disagrees with is "white supremacist."
It's easy to charge someone with being a white supremacist because it's difficult to prove a negative. Once charged, if charged often enough, the charge may stick even if baseless. In a 2019 poll, 57% of Americans agreed that President Trump is a white supremacist or emboldened them. What "embolden" meant in that context is not clear. The media worked overtime to establish this idea in the minds of the public, and now they're using the same rhetoric to attack opponents of the Biden administration.
The charge against conservatives appears daily on thousands of liberal media outlets. It's now commonplace to accuse anyone who takes pride in America — anyone who admires George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, to say nothing of Reagan or Trump — of being a vicious white supremacist. Or even anyone who questions "Black Lives Matter," or is not vocal enough in his support.
What's happening with the rhetoric of white supremacism is the classic tactic of expanding the definition of something odious until it covers everything outside your own way of thinking. It's the equivalent of labeling your opponent a "fascist" just for opposing your ideas, and like the charge of fascism, its purpose is to silence the opponent without having to debate him. This because once you debate him, you might discover that you are wrong.
As Orwell understood, such rhetoric can be effective. Create a lie and repeat it often enough, and it comes to seem as if it were true. Orwell was correct in his belief that "in our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing" — with the exception, he said, of those rebels, including many conservatives, who express their own honest opinions outside the "party line."
As Orwell realized early on, the political language of the left relies on vague charges and deliberate obfuscation. What better, in our own time, than the vague charge of white supremacy? Most everyone would agree that white supremacy is a bad thing, but the fact is that there are few white supremacists around. So charging someone with white supremacy without a basis in fact is a grave error — a crime, actually (slander or libel). And yet, for many liberals, attacking opponents with white supremacist rhetoric is the equivalent of saying, "I don't like you."
Leftists often use such extreme rhetoric to deflect attention from their own incompetence and corruption. During the presidential campaign, candidate Biden boasted of what he would accomplish in his "first 100 days." What has he accomplished, other than a ruinous stimulus bill loaded with political payoffs to key constituencies and a border crisis of mounting proportions?
The next 100 days look worse. It's true: by July, most Americans will have been vaccinated, largely due to former President Trump's Operation Warp Speed. But, according to reliable predictions, the border crisis will worsen, and questions about the economy will emerge based on the unsustainability of federal deficits. Biden refuses to call for Cuomo's resignation, which many believe must come soon enough. And Biden may find it harder and harder to appear in public, much less to participate in an actual press conference, where the questions have not been submitted in advance and those chosen limited to cooperative members of the press.
The white supremacist rhetoric opens up a slippery slope whereby eventually one may be charged with racism simply for the "crime" of being white, and certainly for the crime of being a Southern white. Kamala Harris played the race card in her primary debate with candidate Joe Biden. Just because he was a white male who had opposed busing, on legitimate grounds, he was deemed a racist. Presumably, she could not have made that charge against a black who had opposed busing, as many did. Then, during the campaign, she repeatedly suggested that President Trump was a white supremacist or had ties to or sympathized with white supremacists.
One assumes that V.P. Harris does not now consider President Biden a racist — not, at least, until it becomes politically expedient to do so. At that moment, perhaps when she wishes to remove him from office, she might play the race card again.
For now, Harris confines her accusations to anyone else who gets in her way. Her comparison of ICE to the KKK introduced white supremacy rhetoric into the discussion of the border crisis. Other situations are perfectly suited to the white supremacist charge. The retrial of George Floyd's killer, the shooting of Asian-Americans in the Atlanta area, resistance to the expansion of federal gun control laws after several recent mass shootings — those who oppose the left's script are immediately characterized as white supremacists.
As things worsen, expect to hear the white supremacist charge thrown around more often. Who knows what comes next? Silencing the opposition involves tarring it with the worst sort of charges — charges that reduce the opponent to a category that has no right to speak. Whatever comes next, liberals won't be loath to employ it. Their record of abusive rhetoric makes that clear.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).
Image via Public Domain.
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