WASHINGTON: The shooting in El Paso as well as similar events at synagogues in Pittsburg and California, at churches in Charleston and Texas, at mosques in various locations around the country, raises serious questions about what is happening in our society. Is White Nationalism really on the rise? Or is a group that has always been there just being more vocal?
Racism, of course, is nothing new. Growing up in the years of segregation, a black person could not be sure where he could get a cup of coffee or use a restroom.
We lived through the murder of Martin Luther King. And Bobby Kennedy.
Then, it seemed, we knew it was time to move on.
We passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act.
In Congress, most Republicans embraced this legislation. It was Southern Democrats who continued to promote racism and segregation. Decades later the nation elected its first black president and re-elected him.
Men and women of goodwill thought our society was moving forward. Now, if you listen to the media, there are fears that white nationalism is on the rise. The shooter in El Paso said in his Manifesto that the book, “The Great Replacement” led him to act against a “Hispanic invasion.”
The 2011 book by French white nationalist Renault Camus, “The Great Replacement,” argues that elites throughout the Western world are promoting mass immigration of non-whites to “replace” white people.
The gunman at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was obsessed with the Jewish immigrant aid society, HIAS. The New Zealand mosque shooter also spoke of an “invasion” of immigrants, as did the shooter at the synagogue in Poway, California.
These shooters claimed that immigration is leading to “white genocide.”
Those who repeat such rhetoric regularly intend it to influence those who see it. One of the leaders of the early Conservative intellectual movement, the Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Chicago, Richard Weaver, wrote an influential book, “Ideas Have Consequences.”
If you tell people regularly that our society is being “invaded” by dangerous non-white immigrants some disturbed individuals will inevitably believe such hyperbole and act on it.
Ideas do, after all, have consequences.
Some Republicans are hesitant to deal with the question of why military-style assault weapons are allowed on our streets. Why? The NRA and voters who do not want to lose Second Amendment rights. However, an equal number of democrats, including socialist Bernie Sanders, have done nothing to enforce gun laws. Why? Vermont is a big hunting state.
When I was in law school, we studied the Second Amendment in some detail. No one ever suggested that it involved civilians possessing military weapons. In today’s political arena, making that simple statement of fact requires political courage.
And such courage is hard to find. If it was easy, when Obama had control of the House and Senate, he would have done something.
Beyond the hyperbole, what is worse is that so many Americans have little understanding of the uniqueness of our multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society.
America, a nation of immigrants, was diverse from the beginning. At the time of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote:
“If there is a country in the world where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America. Made up, as it is, of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits, of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable. But by the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires and the parts are brought into cordial unison.”
Anyone who hates immigrants must hate the very idea of America. Consider our country’s name. The name America is derived from Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512), who took part in several voyages to the New World. Vespucci claimed to be a member of the expedition that first touched the mainland.
His accounts of his voyages were published in 1507 by Martin Waldseemueller, a German geographer who suggested that the new lands be called “America.”
Many of the Hispanic residents of the El Paso area have roots there which go back to the time before Texas became a state. People lived on the border for 100 years before the border separated Mexico and America.
Immigrants have been coming to these shores for hundreds of years. We have welcomed them, and some, like the El Paso shooter, have formed groups like the Know-Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan to oppose them.
From the article: ‘White power ideology’: why El Paso is part of a growing global threat
Defining white nationalism
At the center of contemporary white nationalist ideology is the belief that whiteness is under attack, and that a wide range of enemies – from feminists to leftwing politicians to Muslims, Jews, immigrants, refugees and black people – are all conspiring to undermine and destroy the white race, through means as varied as interracial marriage, immigration, “cultural Marxism” and criticism of straight white men.
Historically, narrow bigotry has always lost. We have gone from “No Irish Need Apply” to John F. Kennedy as president. The present white nationalists will also be defeated. It is just a matter of focusing on the evildoers, not the hyperbole of politicians.
It would be easier to defeat them if politicians, on both sides of the aisle, did not stir divisions in our diverse society for political purposes. The El Paso shooting should be a wake-up call for many in our contemporary society who seem to need one. (A Reformed White Nationalist Says the Worst Is Yet to Come)