America’s 21st Century Alt-Right
A long time ago there was Apartheid, an ideology based on racial privilege, fear of the other, walls and barbed wire, censorship, ignorance and oppression (Scholars and Rogues).
The year 2016 saw the election of Donald John Trump as President of the US. A White billionaire of German and Scottish ancestry, Trump won the presidency with 304 Electoral College votes, while losing the popular vote by 2.86 million votes (Schmidt & Andrews, 2016). President Trump became the oldest and wealthiest male ever to hold the highest political office in the nation. He also became the first to do so without having prior government or military service to his name.
“Make America Great Again”
We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us (John Winthrop).
An examination of the demographics related to the victory of President Trump reveals an interesting pattern of data in relation to the underlying reason for his election. According to the results of the national exit polls reported the day after the 2016 general elections, the distribution of the electorate consisted of 69% White voters versus 31% non-White voters (Henley, 2016; Tyson & Maniam, 2016). From the former group, 58% of White voters supported President Trump, with this statistic comprising 63% of White males and 53% of White females. From the overall total number of males and females (White and non-White) that made up the electorate, a greater number of males than females voted for the President (53% v. 41%). This gender gap was the widest to occur in presidential election exit polls since 1972.
Considered by education level, 67% of non-college-educated Whites voted for the President Trump, with 72% of that group being made up of males (Henley, 2016; Tyson & Maniam, 2016). Fifty two percent of the total number of college graduates (white collar) were reported to have voted for his opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton. Conversely, 52% of the total number of voters without a college degree (blue collar) had voted for the President. This education gap was the widest in presidential election exit polls since 1980. Continue reading “Chapter 7: America’s 21st century alt-right / Make America White Again”
The First African American US President
One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world (Barack Hussein Obama).
In November 2008, an African American civil rights lawyer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, community organizer, and senator representing the state of Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama, was elected as the 44th President of the US. He became the first and only Black American to date in the history of the nation to hold the highest political office. He was also the first president to have been born outside the contiguous US.
During the tenure of Obama as president, more legislative measures were introduced to combat overt and covert racism in the country. But America, given its racial legacy both as a nation and as a people, could not handle a non-White male in the White House as president. Covert and not-so-covert racism increased, and this became manifest even in relation to the President himself.
Death threats and racist chatter on the websites of many White supremacists, directed toward the person of the President, increased to such an unprecedented degree that even while Obama was still a candidate, a bipartisan congressional advisory committee decided to assign Secret Service protection to him a full 18 months before the 2008 general elections (Parks & Heard, 2009; Pickler, 2007; Toomey, 2007; Zeleny, 2007). Some threats also targeted his Black American nuclear family.
I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with White people (Abraham Lincoln).
For example, Raymond Hunter Geisel was arrested in August 2008 for threatening to assassinate Obama (Parks & Heard, 2009). Geisel had been overheard using a racial epithet in his regard during a training class for bail bondsmen. He added, “If he gets elected, I’ll assassinate him myself” (ibid.). Also in August, another three men who seemed to adhere to the ideology of White supremacy were arrested after having disclosed that they planned to shoot Obama during the acceptance speech he was to give as his party’s nominee at the Democratic National Convention (McKinney et al., 2008). In October, federal officials arrested yet another two White supremacists who intended to assassinate Obama (Lichtblau, 2008). These individuals had also planned to go on a killing rampage against a school in Tennessee that was majority-Black in its population, with the intent of beheading 88 African American children.
The day after the general elections in November, many citizens in Maine rallied against “a backdrop of Black figures hung by nooses from trees” (Parks & Heard, 2009). In the meantime, a betting pool progressed in one of their convenience stores as to when President Obama would be assassinated. A sign at the store read: “Let’s hope we have a winner” (ibid.). In Hardwick, New Jersey, an unknown individual burned crosses in front of the house of a biracial couple, while the phrases “Kill that nigger” and “Shoot Obama” (ibid.) were found spray painted in the free expression tunnel of North Carolina State University. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a poster of President Obama with a bullet going through his head appeared in a police station. At the University of Texas in Austin, the footballer Buck Burnette posted the following sentence on his Facebook page: “All the hunters gather up, we have a nigger in the White House” (ibid.). Second- and third-graders in a public school in Rexburg, Idaho, were heard chanting “Assassinate Obama” (ibid.), while in Vay, also in Idaho, a sign offering a “free public hanging” (ibid.) of the President appeared on a tree. Continue reading “Chapter 6: The first African American US President / Overt racism rises again”
The Effects of Racism
Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: How does it feel to be a problem? (W. E. B. Du Bois).
Racism has been defined as:
“Racial prejudice that has been incorporated into the activities and procedures of major institutions, corporations, social systems (such as those related to housing, education, and health), and other arenas of major social activity (such as politics, the media, finance, and banking)” (OEMA, 2007).
Racism serves “both to discriminate against ethnic minorities and to maintain advantages and benefits for White Americans” (ibid.). It contains the essential tension of not-so-egalitarian applied presences of the historically different races, with races derived from Northern Europe being considered civilized, whereas all other races are considered inferior (Jones, 1997).
Race and ethnicity. Race is defined as a “human group . . . [aggregated] by virtue of innate or immutable characteristics” (van den Berghe, 1967). Ethnicity is defined as a social group aggregated through cultural criteria and customs. Race as a construct tends to contain within it long-standing connotations of nativism, despite having been debunked in an overwhelming manner in favor of the variable of race as a sociopolitical construct (HGMIS-ORNL, 2003; OMB, 1995, 1997; Shih, Bonam, Sanchez, & Peck, 2007; Smedley & Smedley, 2005; Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Kidd, 2005).
Carter (2007) defined racism as “a complex set of rational and logical beliefs and attitudes that serve to justify the superiority of the dominant racial group, while deemphasizing its systemic characteristics and sociohistorical context.” Jones (1997) defined racism as building “on the negative-attitude view of prejudice” and incorporating:
- The purported biological bases of group characteristics;
- The assumed superiority of one’s own race (ethnocentrism); and
- The rationalization of “institutional and cultural practices that formalize the hierarchical domination of one racial group over another” ().
According to Jones, racism has five basic elements as follows:
- Beliefs about racial superiority and inferiority;
- Ethnocentrism, with the concurrent rejection of customs, ideas, peoples, and practices divergent from the ethnocentric norm;
- Conferral of privilege through a racially-based and dominant-cultural national system;
- Personal and collective thoughts, feelings, and behaviors emanating from various cultural-institutional social structures that support racism; and
- The systematic attempt to prove the rationality of applied policies and practices based on racial differences.
State of the Nation in 2008
I have wept as I have gone from city to city and seen how far people have wandered from God (Billy Graham).
Both overt and covert racism continued to plague America, despite significant gains in civil liberties for racial and ethnic minorities, in addition to the ramp-up of federal anti-discrimination laws. In 1989, a White male shot “105 rounds from the . . . [AK-47 assault rifle purchased over the counter], killing five Southeast Asian children because he blamed minorities for taking jobs away from White men” (Sue, 2005).
Rodney King, an African American male, was beaten with significant brutality in 1991 by police officers in Los Angeles (LA), California, after having been arrested for motor speeding and evading arrest (Cable News Network [CNN], 2001). Three officers were acquitted from charges of having used excessive force against King in a trial by jury, the composition of which was 83% White. This acquittal sparked off the LA race-related riots of 1992, deemed the worst in the history of the city. During the riots, arson, assaults, and murders ensued by both Whites and Blacks. These riots lasted six days and ended after mandated interventions by the California National Guard, the US Army, and the US Marines. After the verdict had been handed down, the mayor of LA declared that the assailants of Rodney King did not deserve to be police officers. In the meantime, President Bush reiterated that the judicial system had worked (Mydans, 1992).
In 1997, an immigrant from Haiti was strip-searched, raped, and sodomized with a toilet plunger by some New York City police officers in Brooklyn after having been arrested and handcuffed for disorderly conduct (Sue, 2005). In 1998, three White males belonging to a White supremacist prison gang lynched an African American male in Texas in a savage manner, then “chained [him] to a pickup truck and dragged [him] to death, while his body was practically shredded and torn apart” (ibid.). This incident is discussed in more detail in the chapter The First African American US President. In 2000, a 21-year-old White male member of the supremacist group World Church of the Creator shot without compunction several African Americans, Asian Americans, and Orthodox Jews in Illinois and Indiana. Continue reading “Chapter 4: State of the nation in 2008 / Aftermath of 9/11 / Hate crimes and racial ridicule”
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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (Preamble).
Racism has existed in the US since the birth of the nation in 1776, despite having been founded on the egalitarian value principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence (National Archives, 2016), the Preamble to which can be found above. Racism, defined as a “system of cultural, institutional, and personal values, beliefs, and actions in which individuals or groups are . . . [disadvantaged] based on ethnic or racial characteristics” (Tinsley-Jones, 2005), has long been considered the hallmark of US history, because the construct of race both was and still is the fundamental determinant of sociopolitical ordering in the nation (Essandoh, 1996; Omi & Winant, 1994). Racialized sociopolitical ordering affected and continues to affect without abatement the legal, natural, political, psychological, and social rights of human persons in America (Miller & Garran, 2007; Omi & Winant, 1994). It also affects their labor market positioning and personal identity.
Right from the outset as a nation, the US involved itself in the active organization, interpretation, and management of race, and it did this for two reasons. First, to compare, contrast, and control the ‘different’ or ‘unknown’ other in relation to the Anglo-Saxon norm as the ideal of a human person. Second, to attempt to establish a ‘pure’ or ‘real American’ race by reducing or eliminating the ‘undesirable other’ as much as possible and this in a legal manner. Continue reading “Chapter 3: Racism in the United States / The American dilemma”
In the Name of God
Look how they love one another (Tertullian).
Christians of all denominations across the US acted no different than their non-Christian counterparts throughout the entire process that was both unfolding and continues to unfold in relation to Protecting the Nation. They have done this despite their calling to manifest a very different kind of behavior by virtue of their professed faith and belief in God.
On the one hand, conservative Christians, in particular those on the extreme right, Catholics included, who had considered President Trump to be a postmodern-day King Cyrus II (the Great; e.g., G. L., personal communication at A House of Prayer) or King Constantine I (e.g., ChurchMilitant.com, 2016; Voris, 2016) upon his election – namely, that he was ‘sent by God’ to save both the nation and the world from its ever-increasing descent into postmodern-era paganism and violence, including the barbaric terroristic violence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) – stomped and hurled insults at their more moderate and liberal brethren on social media and elsewhere, with a fervor and zeal that would have put the Old Testament high priest, Phinehas, to shame. More often than not, these insults tended to end with the yelled exhortations to “PRAY!” and “STAY STRONG, Christians!” – combined with several requests to the administrators of the relevant social media platforms to censor or block those who disagreed with them in a manner quite different from that of a snowflake.
On the other hand, liberal Christians, in particular those on the extreme left, hurled verbal abuse online, and at times even physical abuse in offline venues, at their more moderate and conservative counterparts with no less fervor, zeal, and versatility. Strings of profanities and vulgarities in the name of God abounded, even though some in the conservative camp engaged in the same behaviors. Civil resistance protests grew in urban areas across the nation and in more than a few cases, riots were incited on purpose to attempt to create a state of anarchy, with multiple instances of physical violence being the result. Continue reading “Chapter 1: In the name of God / The imperial presidency”
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door (Emma Lazarus).
January 20, 2017, brought with it the swearing in of a new president in the United States of America (US): the 45th holder of the highest political office in the land, Donald John Trump. Seven days later, the President signed Executive Order 13769 titled Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States (The White House, 2017a). Chaos ensued.
One of a trio of executive orders that have been called “the blueprints for the most significant shift in American foreign policy since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941” (Suri, 2017), Protecting the Nation was intended to ban citizens of seven countries from entering the US for 90 days (The White House, 2017a). These countries were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen; all Muslim-majority countries designated ‘of particular concern’ under the legislation H. R. 158 – Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. Protecting the Nation was also intended to suspend admission into the US of all refugees from any country in the world for 120 days and ban the “detrimental” admission of refugees from Syria for an indefinite time. Upon the resumption of refugee admissions subsequent to the 120-day ban, Executive Order 13769 was furthermore intended to prioritize admissions to the US “on the basis of religious-based persecution, if the religion of the refugees seeking admission was a minority in their country of nationality” (ibid.). Continue reading “Chapter 1: Who are you? What is your faith?”