When he was elected, it looked as if Trump was the “great white hope” standing up for white people against the assault of blacks and immigrants. He declared there were good people on both sides of the Charlottesville incident; he was going to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants out. Now, particularly following his incitement of the mob that invaded the Capitol, he has become an embarrassment to white people.
I was pleased when Trump said that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the fracas in Charlottesville over the removal of Confederate statues. I don’t know if there were very fine people who participated in the fights, but there were very fine people who opposed the removal of the Confederate statues as those in the fights did.
The status quo in Charlottesville included the presence of Confederate statues, since Virginia had been a member state of the Confederacy and many Virginians had died bravely fighting for Virginia’s right to self-determination. If the Confederacy had won the war, would slavery still have existed there in 1900? We will never know, but it probably would not have. World opinion was turning strongly against slavery, and a separate Confederacy would probably not have been able to stand up against pressure from the rest of the world, including the separate, northern United States. One result might have been the end of slavery, the collapse of the Confederate economy, and an eventual reuniting of the North and the South.
There was much less animosity between the North and the South in the years following the Civil War than there is now. Veterans of the war tended not to hold grudges, much like US veterans often showed no animosity toward their former enemies in Germany, Japan, or Vietnam after those wars. Today the political differences are more between the coastal elites and the center of the country, or perhaps urban versus rural. The ongoing dispute about the existence of the electoral college is evidence of this remaining tension.
The coastal elites dominate virtually all types of media, except for social media. It’s hard to know whether Jewish TV media luminaries or star writers at the New York Times or the Atlantic magazine, hate Southerners so much because they are Jews, carrying 4,000 years of race-related baggage, or because they went to bastions of intellectual snobbery like Harvard, Yale or Stanford. In any case, unhappy Southerners have tended to turn to social media for information and to express their unhappiness. Social media are increasingly discredited by the mainstream media, in part properly, because of its fake news, but also unfairly. The elites characterize social media as evil and illegitimate because it is the way for ordinary people to express ideas opposing the mainstream media consensus. We see the “free press” arguing against press freedom.
If there is a stereotype of “dumb Southern Conservative,” Trump has reinforced that image. Instead of being an example of a kind Southern gentleman, he has been a stupid, impolite, arrogant, immoral, vulgar white man -- trailer park trash -- even if he lives in elegant residences. By his misbehavior he has sullied the image of all white men.
I am afraid that something similar is happening in Britain because of Brexit. Brexit started because ethnic Brits were unhappy with all of the non-Brits who were coming to Britain because of the provisions of the EU. Britain, along with Germany, was one of the most prosperous, pleasant countries in the EU, thus attracting many immigrants from other EU countries, as well as from non-EU countries. Many Brits supported Brexit because they did not want immigrants to change the country in what they thought was a worse direction. The result, however, will be an isolated Britain. It is almost as if the American Confederacy had succeeded in seceding from the United States. Britain has seceded from the EU, probably to the detriment of its economy, and its cultural and intellectual life. It will be poorer in multiple ways. The Anglo race, which was the core of the creators of the American republic, will be weaker. Britain is no longer an imperial power with colonies to support it, and is no longer part of the EU, the second or third most powerful bloc in the world.
America is becoming an increasingly less Anglo country, increasingly more African and Hispanic. Trump was supposed to stop this transformation, but instead has probably strengthened it. He has discredited the white race. In the Biden administration, Biden is one of the few white men; the other leaders will be non-white, many female, starting with Kamala Harris. In this group, I don’t count Jews as “white,” because they often don’t consider themselves as white. When Jews are born, one of the first things that is done to them is circumcision, to mark them forever as Jews, not some other race, even if in other ways they resemble the white race. Circumcision marks the members of the Hebrew tribe, and separates them from non-members. Thus, I don’t count the many Jews in the Biden administration as “white” or Anglo. The Biden administration will be emblematic of the new, diverse America.
So, I have to ask, what do these new, diverse leaders bring to the table. With Jews, it is pretty obvious. They have been very successful in almost every area except athletics. Blacks, on the other hand, have not been very successful in any area other than athletics. Both Jews and blacks have been successful in the entertainment industry. Asians, like whites have been pretty successful in governing, and remaining somewhat competitive if not leaders in other areas. Asians and Jews clearly beat out the other groups intellectually. Blacks have long been strong in religion, which has supported them in the trials they have faced over the years, but religion is becoming less and less important in American life.
Trump ended up appealing to the worst qualities of white people, and bringing out some of their worst qualities, most recently illustrated in the assault on the US Capitol, one of the best institutions created by the white “founding fathers,” now sullied by Trump and his white followers.
We may be witnessing the decline of the white race. It had a good run. I think on the whole colonialism was a good thing, bringing millions, maybe billions, of people into the developed world, although huge discrepancies still remain between the colonizers and the former colonies. World Wars I and II were pretty big blots on white history, but so far wars seem to be part of the human condition, not just for whites. One of the World War II aggressors was Asian. I would say the Roman Empire was also a “white” period, and again one with a pretty impressive history. China, India, Persia, Egypt, and some other ancient civilizations have similarly long, impressive histories, while Africa has none. Maybe this is Africa’s time to shine, but so far it doesn’t look like it. There doesn’t seem to be much of a chance for American Indians to make a comeback. Perhaps the time has come for whites to pay a price for what they did to the American Indians and black slaves. If so, will it be good for America? I don’t think so, but as a white man, I may be biased. The bigger question is, “Will the world be a better place?” Will the standard of living continue to rise for all men? Will political and intellectual freedom continue to spread to all men?
In the great scheme of things, I think white people have been more generous than most in tolerating and working with other races. In America it was white men who freed the slaves; the slaves did not free themselves. A white Southerner, Lyndon Johnson, is probably the person most responsible for whatever civil rights are enjoyed by blacks today. Trump had an opportunity to regularize the rapid changes that were occurring in America when he was elected, but he failed. It’s not enough to be white. You have to be white and a good person. Trump was not a good person. Robert E. Lee was white and a good person, a Southern gentleman. Woodrow Wilson gets no credit for trying (and failing) to bring a just peace to the end of World War I that might have spared the lives of six million Jews and ten million Russians in World War II.
It looks like something new is coming. Trump will be seen as something of an unpleasant coda to 250 years of American history. Britain and the US have both recoiled at what they think may be coming. Their trying to turn back may end up being more harmful that trying to control the change.
President-elect Biden is saying all the right things, except (for me) about Charlottesville. Every time he mentions Charlottesville I recoil. For me Charlottesville meant tearing down American history in a city synonymous with American history as the home of Thomas Jefferson. But we tried going in the other direction under Trump, and it didn’t work. Perhaps Biden will do better. If not, we may find ourselves on the brink of another Civil War, basically over the same issue, the role of non-whites, blacks and immigrants, in American society.