What Do "White Supremacists" Believe?
March 7, 2016
[Also of interest: "White Nationalism's Crackpot 'Science'"]
There are two very different beliefs that are both labeled as racism and "white supremacy" (or synonymously "white nationalism"*) by some people. Here they are:
Belief #1. "Black people ought to be treated worse than whites; blacks ought to have fewer rights than whites; and whites should benefit at the expense of blacks in ways that--if it were the other way around--would be wrong." [This is the viewpoint that defends things like chattel slavery or Jim Crow, for example. It is truly a "white supremacy" racist viewpoint.]
Belief #2. "The government, mass media and liberal politicians are biased against whites in favor of blacks; blacks are being allowed to benefit unfairly at the expense of whites." [This is the viewpoint of people who object to Affirmative Action, who respond to the slogan "Black lives matter" by replying, "All lives matter," and who say that welfare steals from whites to give to blacks, for example.]
In both the mass and alternative media, people who hold either of these two beliefs are often referred to as "white supremacists" and labeled as racists. Clearly the first belief is properly labeled as "white supremacy" racism. But what about the second belief?
The second belief does not have the word "ought" in it; it is entirely a belief about what is, not what ought to be. If a person espouses belief #2 it does not logically follow that he/she also holds belief #1; it is very possible that he/she disagrees with belief #1 and simply thinks that racial discrimination (regardless of which race is favored) is wrong. This is why I don't think it makes sense to characterize belief #2 as "racism."
One can argue that belief #2 is factually false, but that is very different from arguing that it is racist (i.e., equivalent to belief #1.) One can conjecture that a person espousing belief #2 also holds belief #1, but that is just a conjecture. It may be true for some and untrue for other individuals. The principle of "innocent until proven guilty" would suggest that one ought to confirm the conjecture before asserting it to be true for any given individual or individuals, right?
If somebody you know holds belief #2, the appropriate way to respond is to respectfully ask them to spell out exactly what they think is true, and then to investigate the relevant facts and discuss what the investigation reveals. This is the way that leads to recruiting good people to the side of egalitarian revolution. It is also the way to find out if the person in question is merely using the espousal of belief #2 to organize support for actual white supremacy, which some people do.
So, what do the so-called "white supremacy" websites say?
What about David Duke?
Let's start with David Duke's website (http://davidduke.com/), since he's been in the news recently as a "white supremacist" and former Ku Klux Klan leader offering his endorsement to Donald Trump. There was a time when the KKK was an overtly racist organization advocating belief #1 and violently attacking those who opposed the harsh discrimination (such as Jim Crow laws and lynching) against blacks that the former slave owners imposed after they lost the Civil War and that their descendants imposed for many decades after that. One reason David Duke is not to be trusted is that, while he claims only to hold belief #2, he does not acknowledge that he was once a KKK leader and he does not explicitly repudiate the past racist violence of the KKK.
David Duke's website is clearly an attempt to recruit whites on the basis of belief #2, not #1. The banner of his site reads: "David Duke: For Human Freedom and Diversity" for crying out loud! Since I don't trust Duke, I'm not particularly interested in him as an individual. What I am interested in is the substantial number of people who are attracted to him today. Are these people necessarily correctly characterized as racists? Do they necessarily believe in white supremacy (i.e. belief #1)?
Let's see if there is any advocacy of belief #1 on David Duke's website. Explore it for yourself. I don't see any. What I see, on the contrary, is all very defensive, from the point of view of belief #2. For example, at the time of this writing the featured article at the top of the website is titled, "Harvard professor argues for ‘abolishing’ white race." Is it "racist" for a person who considers him/herself to be white to be alarmed at somebody calling for the abolition of his/her race? I don't think so.
Now, it turns out that I know this "Harvard professor"--Noel Ignatiev. Duke calls Ignatiev a "Harvard professor" but I believe he really was only a Harvard graduate student and lecturer. Ignatiev does indeed say that the "white race should be abolished"; Ignatiev happens to be a person who--stupidly and arrogantly!--loves to be misunderstood, which is why he expresses his ideas the way he does. But if one takes the time to actually read Ignatiev's writings one will discover that by "abolishing the white race" he means that people who refer to themselves as "white" should stop doing that. I don't know if Duke took the time to find out what Ignatiev meant, or not; probably not. Duke no doubt seized upon this strange person, Igantiev, in order to fuel white people's fears that Harvard, i.e., academia, i.e., the Establishment, is out to abolish the white race--kill them or make them starve to death or something like that. (Interestingly, near the bottom of this article there is a Washington Times article appended that provides Ignatiev's sort-of clarification, but how many people read all the way to the bottom?)
Another big theme on Duke's website is anti-Zionism. But anti-Zionism is not racism. I am an anti-Zionist because Zionism is racism. It is true, however, that Duke--being the racist that he actually is--opposes Zionism by declaring that Jews are a distinct race with a bad characteristic.)
If you know that a person is a fan of David Duke, what does that actually tell you? I claim that all it tells you is that the person holds belief #2.
Postscript August 20, 2018: Here is a video of David Duke being interviewed. At time point 53:13 Duke begins saying why he likes the idea of a white civil rights movement, and he explains it entirely in terms of it being a movement to defend white people against unjust attacks on them. In other words, Duke's appeal for a white civil rights movement is entirely on the basis of idea #2, and not at all on ideal #1.
What about KKK.com?
I think that the uncritical use of, and identification with, "KKK" on a website implies, at best, a friendly relationship with belief #1, i.e., a refusal to condemn racism. But the editors of KKK.com clearly are attempting to avoid any explicit advocacy of belief #1 in order to attract people solely on the basis of belief #2. The website, as you can tell by exploring it for yourself, is all about making things better for whites (including ending perceived discrimination against whites), not making things worse for blacks.
If you look at the far left side of the site and scroll down to the fourth item, you'll see a link to its store, titled "Heritage, Not Hate."
One of the featured (linked) articles is titled, "State Police Boosted Academy Diversity by Ignoring Background Checks, Suit Says"; it reports that a person responsible for doing background checks on people applying for jobs as police officers was told to ignore "troubled legal histories and criminal backgrounds" of minority applicants in order to "increase racial diversity." Well, is it "racist" to think this is wrong? Of course it remains to be known whether the article's claim is true or not. But really, are you absolutely positive the claim is false?
If a white person who believes belief #2 but not #1 happens to like KKK.com because of such articles, and thinks that its editors are looking out for people like him/her, does that mean this person cannot be won to supporting egalitarian revolution? Of course not! But the way to win this person over is NOT to declare that he/she is an evil racist. If it were I, I would investigate whether the article was telling the truth or not. And if it was telling the truth, I would agree with the person that it's wrong to use different criteria for different races in job hiring: the criteria should be about competence and willingness to do the job or learn how to do the job. And then I would discuss the racist history of the KKK and how it attacked poor whites (such as those in the racially integrated, 1930s era Cotton Belt, Southern Tenant Farmers Union), as well as blacks, in order to keep the rich rich and the poor poor.
It is quite possible--even likely--that the editors of websites such as David Duke's and KKK.com are genuine and dangerous racists, who are trying to attract people who only hold belief #2, and who are intending to guide them somehow into supporting belief #1 as well. The question is, how do egalitarian revolutionaries deal with this problem?
The wrong--but much easier--way, in my view, would be to write off anybody who is attracted to these kinds of websites as an evil racist. That will guarantee that the genuine evil racists have a free hand to recruit followers. The right way, I believe, is to find out (by respectful communication) if a person attracted to one of these kinds of websites believes only belief #2 or if they also believe #1. If they don't believe #1, then treat them as a potential member of the egalitarian revolutionary movement, because egalitarians ALSO oppose racial discrimination of any kind.
Can KKK Members Be Persuaded (By a Black Man!) to Quit the KKK?
The experiences of Daryl Davis (recounted in the videos above) show that some members of organizations such as the KKK can be persuaded to leave these organizations due to their disagreement with the organization's acting on the basis of belief #1.
David Duke and KKK.com and such individuals and groups (including some very knowledgeable academics such as Kevin McDonald, interviewed here) see everything in terms of race. They fear the extinction of the "white race." Hence they believe it is important to maintain "racial purity" by preventing inter-racial dating and marriage; some aim to have separate geographical territories for each race.
As Kevin McDonald in his interview makes clear, he views the historical tendency of ordinary white people to be egalitarian, and to think about questions from the point of view of what is morally right and wrong, as a deplorable weakness ("pathological") of the white race. From the point of view of keeping the white race population pure and numerically large, egalitarianism and morality, as McDonald sees it, prevent the white race from dominating competing races the only way possible--with superior military force that is not queasy about killing non-whites in order to win the racial competition. McDonald views class inequality, and especially the presence of a militaristic and imperialistic aristocracy, as particularly valuable for preventing the white race from losing out to competing races and going extinct.
In this world view of McDonald's, what's important is NOT ending oppression (of whites or anybody else) but rather assuring that there will always be lots and lots of purely white people. This is why white supremacist leaders have an extremely elitist view of ordinary white people and display great contempt for them, as discussed in connection with particular such leaders below.
But the more that egalitarians do the kind of thing that Daryl Davis (above) does, the less that people (those who only hold belief #2, that is) will think in terms of race. Instead they will see that ordinary people, regardless of "race," share in common the positive values (that come from taking the Golden Rule seriously) that make for a good society, and that the enemy of these positive values in the world is the minority (consisting of people of all races) who rule over, dominate and oppress ordinary people.
Related to this "race purity" theme is the fact that white nationalists chant "Jews will not replace us!" To understand why they chant this, please read the section titled "Why Do Some Whites Chant "Jews Will Not Replace Us!"? in my article titled "America's Liberal Establishment Has Done the Heavy Lifting to Recruit Working Class Whites Into White Supremacist* Organizations."
White Supremacist Leaders Have Contempt for Ordinary White People
White supremacist leaders, in contrast to egalitarians, have great contempt for ordinary white people. One such leader, David Lane, writes of "his" white people (in an article once posted on Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance website):
"The mind of the exceptional man or woman is as different from that of the masses as night is from day. The unenlightened masses are asses--dangerous asses, but nonetheless asses."
This contempt for ordinary white people is combined, however, with a realistic understanding that part of the ruling elite who oppress white people are themselves (obviously!) white people. Thus White Aryan Resistance leader, Tom Metzger, when interviewed by an academic for his (the academic's) book, The Racist Mind, said:
"Money powers [does not necessarily mean Jews.] You cannot blame Jews for everything in this country. You can't say the Jews run everything, there are not enough of them. So you are going to have to finally admit that you've been betrayed by your own people. And if the Jews do have this disproportionate power, it's because your leaders have given it to them. And for that reason your number one enemy are of your own household." [The Racist Mind, pg. 76]
In the White Supremacist world view, an elite of White Supremacist leaders and their followers must herd the "White Race" (most of whom are asses) in a direction that will prevent its extinction, and this means turning the asses against the powerful whites who betray them to the non-white races who want to exterminate whites.
When a White Supremacist leader accuses white members of the ruling elite of oppressing ordinary white people (which is an absolutely true accusation!) that leader gains some support from whites who know very well it's true and are furious at it. The question then is, "How can white working class people defeat the ruling class that oppresses them?"
The obvious, and only realistic answer, is to unite in solidarity with ALL people (regardless of race) who share the same positive values as white working class people and who, just like them, want to defeat the ruling class and shape all of society by their positive values.
But the White Supremacist leaders attack the very idea of solidarity among working class people of all races because their core belief is that the different races are in competition with each other for survival of the fittest. This is why the ruling class finds it quite useful to help White Supremacist leaders gain a following by doing things--as discussed here--designed to foment race war, and make white working class people feel that "the white race is slated for extinction" and that the real racial discrimination in the United States is against whites.
If there is to be a successful egalitarian revolution, it will only happen if a substantial majority of Americans support it. This is very possible, because most people already do believe in egalitarian values. But many people with egalitarian values are attracted to organizations that appeal to a sort of twisted version of egalitarian values--organizations that are controlled by anti-egalitarians. For egalitarian revolution to succeed, egalitarians need to win over everybody who can be won over, and that includes people who hold belief #2 but not #1.
The ruling class would love for egalitarians to dismiss everybody who holds belief #2 but not #1 as an evil racist deserving nothing except our contempt and insults. To make us fall into this trap, the ruling class-controlled media slap the phrase "white supremacist" on as many people as possible, hoping we will fall into the trap of viewing all such people as our hard core enemy. But by keeping clearly in mind that belief #1 and #2 are very different, we can avoid falling into this trap.
* A person who has a nuanced understanding of white supremacy and white nationalism would know that they are not really the same thing, but the mass media hate such nuance and treat "white supremacy" and "white nationalism" as synonymous.