Countering the Politics of Guilt
October 16, 2002
by Paul Gottfried
In the September issue of American Renaissance magazine, editor Jared Taylor inserted two noteworthy comments on pluralism and racial nationalism, one by David Horowitz and the other by himself. Horowitz’s remarks praise Taylor as a “smart and gutsy individualist” and makes “no apologies” for publishing a comprehensive account by Taylor of the Wichita massacre, an act of sexual abuse and sadistic mass murder committed by black thugs against whites, which the media persistently hid from public attention and which politicians and judges insisted was not a “hate crime.” Despite his acknowledged respect for Taylor and his willingness to publish him on his website, Horowitz expressed sharp disagreement with Taylor for having “succumbed to the multicultural miasma that has overtaken this country and for busily building a movement devoted to white identity and community. We do not share these agendas.” In their place, Horowitz would go back to the "American ideal of E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one. Not just blacks and whites and Chicanos but Americans.” Unlike Taylor, Horowitz does not “want a claim to a white place at the diversity table,” but calls for “getting rid of the table” entirely.
In his spirited response, Taylor stressed that America was founded as a “self-consciously European majority-white nation,” and that this conception continued to hold sway up until the second half of the twentieth century, when “pluralists” and, later, multiculturalists took over the culture and polity. Taylor claims that although there were blacks and Indians in previous eras, “most Americans saw their presence as a misfortune, and certainly as no threat to the numerical and cultural dominance of whites.” Taylor shows that several generations of American leaders, going back to John Jay in the Federalist Papers and down through Jefferson, Clay, Lincoln, TR, and Wilson shared his notions about race and the undesirability of granting full citizenship—or in some cases even civic status—to blacks.
In fact, although some early American leaders, including Southern ones, were rather optimistic about the prospects for a biracial society (though not about a racially egalitarian one), Taylor is right about the doubts that most of our founders harbored on this point. And certainly those who joined the American Colonization Society, organized in 1816 for the express purpose of sending American blacks as settlers to Africa, included such renowned opponents of slavery as Lincoln and several members of his Civil War cabinet. Taylor is also correct in observing that the pluralist ideal that Horowitz upholds is not particularly “old” but seems specifically related to the early phase of the civil rights movement.
Taylor, however, goes too far on two points. First, there is no basis to assume that because both his magazine and the prominent race pessimists he cites did not think that blacks and whites could live together amicably, “American Renaissance is,” as he claims, “faithful to the original vision of America.” Just because American statesmen sixty years ago did not want their daughters to date blacks or because Lincoln and Clay intended to resettle blacks in Africa after ending slavery does not mean that these figures were white racial nationalists. Horowitz is right on this one: Taylor’s language and politics (and perhaps this is inevitable) underscore his angry confrontation with multiculturalism. Taylor is preoccupied with racial struggle in a way that none of those earlier Americans was, at least not to the same degree. Lincoln may not have conceived of an American republic in which power would be shared with former black slaves, but Lincoln’s own struggles were with Southern secessionists—certainly not with black nationalists. Similarly, Truman may have believed, on the basis of his recorded opinions, that blacks and whites should live in separate communities, but he also integrated the armed services. His own strongest racial invectives were directed not against American blacks but against Japanese in Japan, against whom Truman fought a war without mercy. Taylor’s illustrative figures reflected the racial views of their time, but they were not racial nationalists in the sense that Taylor is.
Second, although some black Americans seem to feel justified in perpetrating violence and verbal abuse against whites, as American Renaissance dauntlessly details, it is predominantly white Christians who keep the victim industry alive and well, as my most recent book, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, tries to make clear. For example, despite the fact that the mainstream media went bonkers calling for the removal of the state flag of Mississippi, which contains a Confederate symbol, 30 percent of the black voters in the state elected to keep it. These people were obviously less incensed about politically incorrect flags than are the national media and most Southern white liberals. Moreover, some of the most truly chilling statements of anti-white and anti-Western sentiment quoted in my book are taken from white Christian clergy and ecclesiastical bodies.
Race hustlers such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson make headway not because of a dearth of white nationalists but because of the self-debasement of those they are shaking down. They do well because of the same cultural climate that helps despisers of Christianity like Daniel Goldhagen (author of Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust) sell their works to guilt-obsessed Christians.
The reasonable solution to this nuttiness would be to encourage proper respect for one’s ancestors and cultural patrimony, and to encourage people to insist on their constitutional rights, such as not being kept, by government fiat, out of jobs or academic slots for which they are qualified, merely because they happen to be white or male. This will not happen so long as people continue to accept a radically skewed caricature of their historical heritage.
Judged by the current PC dogma, every white, Christian, male heterosexual up until the present age was a bigot who needed social reconstruction. But it is a waste of time to attempt to counter that dogma by proving it wrong. What should concern us is not the failure of the past to conform to the very recent present. More important, as my book amply documents it, is the festering disease, here and in Europe, of the politics of white Christian guilt.
Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Hudson Institute.
Paul Gottfried is professor of humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and the author of After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State (Princeton).
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