US Politics

White Nationalism on the March

By Glen Ford

The campaign to bring White nationalism, the founding ideology of the United States, fully out of the closet, kicks into a higher gear on the Right’s anti-holiday, April 15. Newt Gingrich and the various tribes of White Rightists unveil their “Contract From America,” a scaled-down version of the manifesto the Republicans rallied around to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives, in 1994. The 2010 “contract”1 is leaner, built for mass Caucasian consumption. It is written largely in code, the language of obfuscation that American racists speak in an attempt to hide their white supremacist beliefs from others—and, in many cases, from themselves. Indeed, much of American mass political speech is conducted in code, allowing white people to identify each other through terms like “middle class,” “family values,” “taxpayers,” “patriots,” “law-abiding”—terms which, although literally applicable to people of every ethnicity, are understood to mean “good white American citizens.”

Corporate media almost universally describe the Tea Partyers as “anti-government”—which is nonsense. They oppose the government providing assistance—economic, legal, educational, real or imagined—to those that are “undeserving,” which in their world consists mostly of folks that can be defined by race, language or religion (using code words, when required by polite society). Naturally, the average Tea Partyer—when sober—will deny having “a racist bone” in his body, but any group whose unifying characteristic is daily engorgement on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck is, by definition, racist. Anyone who tries to tell you different is far too tolerant of bigoted behavior, assumptions and speech to be anything but a closet racist, himself.

Tea Partyers live in a world of throbbing hatreds that render them damn near incoherent. They shout and hoot and holler in fevered support of political statements with which they cannot possibly agree. For example, the highly popular “Limited Government” plank of The Contract states:

“The purpose of our government is to exercise only those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people, chief among these being the protection of our liberties by administering justice and ensuring our safety from threats arising inside or outside our country’s sovereign borders.”

That means, the government should provide only police, criminal justice and public safety services, and a national defense. No public schools or publicly supported colleges, no tax breaks for homeowners, none of the public supports that “middle class,” “law-abiding,” “patriotic,” “taxpayers” with strong “family values” have been demanding for themselves for the last 65 years. (“And don’t you dare touch my Medicare!”)

Any “movement” that actually believed in as shrunken a government as The Contract describes would be either very rich, or very tiny. The plank only begins to make sense when understood as a kind of scatter-shot code talk for restricting government assistance to “worthy” Americans, and cutting the flotsam and jetsam people loose.

What the Tea Partyers really oppose is a social contract among all the resident peoples of the United States. In this, they are indeed the direct political progeny of the Founding Fathers and the great mass of white settlers, who found the very concept of full U.S. citizenship for Africans and Native Americans monstrously repugnant, a devaluation of their superior white selves. Racism in the national womb prevented the United States from forging a genuine social contract between whites and Others. More to the point, white people rejected any relationship that did not recognize and maintain white supremacy. This was to be forever a White Man’s country, expanding as far as might and money could take it—but white, white, white.

The white nationalists want their white nation back. But they can’t have it. And, since there can be no bargaining on that issue, there is no reason whatsoever for Blacks and Browns and people of good will to engage or humor the Tea Party’s white nationalists. There is nothing to concede to them, and nothing they can offer us to which we are not already entitled.

Prominent peace activists are eager to engage the Tea Party2, in search of common ground in opposition to government waste through war. It is true that Tea Party darling Representative Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican and former presidential candidate, fights as hard as anyone on The Hill against bloated military budgets. But the anti-war movement will soon discover that all but a sliver of the Tea Party crowd are belligerent hawks, as racist in their global worldview as in their domestic outlook. Just as they reject a national social contract with non-whites, they reject any compact with other peoples of the world, particularly the non-white ones. White American nationalism is warlike, expansionist, and proud of it—a grave danger to the survival of humanity.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at, April 14, 2010