Trump has not literally used the phrase “white lives matter,” but many of his policies have played on white identity politics. As I detailed earlier this year, Trump started his administration off with a series of moves that seemed aimed at defending and protecting conservative Christians, police officers, people who fear that Latino immigrants are taking their jobs or redefining U.S. culture, and broadly pushing back against the goals of liberal multiculturalism. In the last few months, he and his administration have continued in that direction, proposing to bar transgender people from serving in the military, preparing to file lawsuits against universities that have affirmative action programs, limiting the Department of Education’s investigations of colleges for sexual assault, and unveiling a plan to restrict legal immigration.
Wait … what?! Let’s take each one of those claims:
- “Protect conservative Christians”. How is that white identity politics? There are non-white conservative Christians, you know.
- “Protect police officers.” How is that white identity politics? There are non-white police officers, you know. Favoring law and order policies is not automatically racist.
- “Broadly pushing back against the goals of liberal multiculturalism.” That’s pretty vague. What are the goals of liberal multiculturalism? Is opposing racial quotas, for example, necessarily a manifestation of white identity politics? Or is it about favoring race-blind policies as a matter of fairness?
- “Barring transgender people from serving in the military.” That may or may not be a good idea, but it has nothing to do with racial identity.
- “Limiting the Department of Justice’s investigations of colleges for sexual assault.” Ditto. What on earth does this have to do with race? Exactly nothing, that’s what.
The only item on Bacon’s list of deplorables that fits within the white identity politics is restricting immigration. Sure, this is a big deal to white identitarians. But it is deeply unfair to say that anybody who wants immigration restriction is therefore a white identitarian. There are people who favor it for economic reasons. According to a March 2017 Gallup poll, 48 percent of Democrats worry about illegal immigration. A majority of black voters (57 percent) worry about it, and far more Hispanic voters worry about it (67 percent) than either white voters (59 percent).
Got that? Two out of three Hispanic voters worry about illegal immigration. Are they white identitarians? Give me a break.
This silly FiveThirtyEight article is a classic example of a liberal journalist labeling political views he doesn’t like as racist, or at least race-conscious. Turn the piece around and you’ll see how stupid it is. Look at Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5 above. The Obama administration’s policies were by and large the opposite of what the Trump administration is doing on each of those fronts. Ask yourself if it makes sense to say that Obama chose those policies to promote black identity politics. Of course it doesn’t. Perry Bacon Jr. is just flailing here. It’s another example of Lithwickism.
The post is filed under “Charlottesville,” so I guess it’s open season on conservatism. It is certainly true that white identity politics are present on the Right. If we’re going to have an intelligent conversation about the phenomenon, we have to at least understand what it is, and is not. This article helps not at all.