“Trump’s” Racism: It Ain’t the Problem
The problem isn’t Trump’s racism. The issue is or should be understanding the white power as a movement based an ideology that consists of a coherent worldview of white supremacy and a forthcoming apocalypse. This kind of understanding has been undermined, subverted by the tendency, decidedly visible in the mainstream media and in our political discourse, to see events like Oklahoma City as isolated events committed by madmen or by forlorn, lost, or psychotic individuals. Tim McVeigh was deeply embedded in the white power movement and it seems quite implausible that he was, as he himself contended, acting alone with the help of two others who he forced to help him. And his behavior in this regard is consistent with the teachings of those who lead the white power movement.
Or consider the case of Dylan Roof, the young man who massacred nine black worshippers at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. He indicated his attachment to and to being influenced by the white power movement by his postings online which included a Rhodesian flag patch, referring to a cause that the Aryan Nations Congress had pushed in 1983. He also used a code for Heil Hitler, the number 88, that had been visible in the 1980s, along with his use of the Confederate flag that refers to white supremacy against what is called “multi-culturalism.” And, of course, thanks to the Internet, Roof could have been radicalized without ever attending an Aryan Nation Congress, e.g., any white power meeting, or even any other white power activist.
Throughout the 80s, the 90s, and even now, events that should be attributed to the white power movement are treated as isolated or aberrational events and not as the result of an ideology that many find legitimate, to say the least. As one commentator has put it: “White power should have been legible as a coherent social movement but was instead largely narrated and prosecuted as scattered actions and inexplicable lone wolf attacks motivated not by ideology but by madness or personal animus.” [Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew, p. 237]
Treating the problem as if it is Trump’s racism that we need to be most concerned with, and thinking that removing his from office will accomplish something significant, is to repeat the myopic view that racism or white supremacy in the United States is a reflection of madness or personal idiosyncrasies. As despicable as Trump is, his racism is merely a reflection of his embrace of the white power movement and its ideology of white supremacy and the coming apocalypse. We can get rid of Trump, either by impeachment or voting him out, but that will not do much of anything to damage the white power movement. As Belew puts it so well: “Knowledge of the history of white power activism is integral to preventing future acts of violence and to providing vital context to current political developments. Indeed, to perceive the movement as a legitimate social force, and its ideologies as comprising a coherent worldview of white supremacy and imminent apocalypse – one with continued recruiting power – is to understand that colorblindness, multicultural consensus, and a postracial society were never achieved. Violent, outright racism and anti-Semitism were live currents in these decades, waiting for the opportunity to resurface in overt form.” [Belew, p. 239]
Focusing on Trump and his racism blinds us to a more significant problem, viz., a political movement that embraces racism and religious fanaticism, that is, the white power movement. And it this movement that must be confronted politically, socially, and legally. To succumb to what some call “Trump hysteria” will, strangely enough, facilitate the success of the white power movement.