There has occasionally emerged on the far right self-designated “white nationalists.” I ocassionally debate them, but I don’t consider myself one of them. The problem with this view, not least, is that we’re not a white nation. Historically, we’re a biracial nation. We brought black people here in chains. Until 1965 immigration reform, we had small admixtures of Indians and Hispanics, but that biracial reality basically encapsulates the first 400 years of history in North America. This demographic reality is a problem–and it has undeniably created many problems, not least the Civil War–but it’s a problem chiefly of white people’s making.
What strikes me as problematic among “white nationalists” is the essentialism of their view of minority and white relations. Yes, it’s undeniable, there is more crime and poverty and general lack of civilization among most minority groups in America. And, as of late, particularly since the 1960s, there is a great deal of unrest and hostility towards the majority white culture and its people, in spite of the general devolution of formal limits on minority advancement and the general lessening of white racist attitudes.
But the America of 1900 or 1920 or 1941 or 1961 for that matter had these same minorities, and it was in many ways more decent, more stable, and had more flourishing of both black and white than the present. And this was as true in New York or Detroit, as Houston or Birmingham. That is, in the past, there were fewer social problems for both groups, and there were widely accepted standards of behavior that were exemplified by the leadership of both groups. Higher class people wore jackets and ties. Fathering kids (or having them) out of wedlock was considered low class, disreputable, and a fast track to poverty. There was patriotism. There was enterprise. There was some segregation, but there was also a great deal of cooperation and mixing, particularly in mid-century. True, there was crime and poverty, and often more of it among blacks, but criminals were shunned by the leaders of both communities, and poverty was not encouraged by the welfare state and the contempt for labor it breeds.
This past should be scandalous for the white nationalists, who say that our intertwined future as a black and white nation is impossible and that some radical solution of separation or mass expulsion of all non-white groups is required. An expulsion and rejection of liberalism and a restoration of confidence by the majority, yes, and realism too. I consider myself a conservative and a nationalist, but the nationalism I embrace is one that conforms to the distinct and also biracial American character. I love real Americans and consider them my brothers. I’m devoted to America’s historic peoples and their flourishing. As a conservative, I want to conserve a way of life both tangible and real, damaged perhaps, but not totally out of living memory. And I see the answers to many of our problems, and the resolution to these supposedly insurmountable racial conflicts, in the answers arrived at by our ancestors in that same history.
The dominant ethos of that history was a flexible, fair, and focused on true merit. It featured self-confident rule by laws and the best men in the community , guided by some concept of noblesse oblige and respect for birth, with this leadership repeated on a small scale by the elite in each sub-community. The mostly WASP majority set the tone of society. They did so without excessive guilt or self-imposed weakness. They did not apply different or lower standards to blacks or immigrants or others out of a sense of misplaced Christian compassion, even as they acknowledged differences among these groups. In other words, leadership rooted in moral truth and confidence in the same was the watchword of America’s yesteryear.
Learning history is important to refute the many distortions and defamations of our past that see nothing but whips and chains and segregated lunch counters, while ignoring the economic and social progress of blacks in that era, as well as ignoring the manifold crack dens, illiteracy, hostility, high crime, race riots, and persistent poverty of that same underclass today. We may have a Barack Obama, but where is today’s Booker T. Washington or George Washington Carver or Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
Occidental Dissent, an interesting blogger, has recently learned that some of his white nationalist fellow travelers are nasty people, devoid of charity for their countrymen, and in some cases filled with hate and hostility and downright craziness. This is not true of all of them, to be fair; some merely emphasize what I consider an ahistorical goal of separation that goes too far and is unnecessary. I hope he looks to our history for the answers, and I hope, unlike some so-called “white nationalists,” he remembers that our first duty in politics, as in life, is to do what is right and true. This truth includes the truth of Christianity and its teaching that each of us, no matter how poor or incapable or disadvantaged or low IQ or dark complected, has human dignity, and this dignity must be respected, even as we try to create a stable and flourishing social order. We can be realists. We can not be demoralized by different levels of flourishing among different group, but that realism must also include the recognition of the real supernatural order and the reality of our Divine Author.