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Bubble America and the Phantom of White Nationalism

It is wonderful to watch the reptile-quick post-election pivot from White Privilege and Identity to White Nationalism and Supremacy.

At a Harvard University conference last week, sour-grapes Democratic campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri charged that white nationalism and supremacy — she used the words interchangeably — were foundational to Donald Trump’s election victory.

These anti-white politics, lowdown and incendiary, are at the center of a concerted semantic campaign. They have nothing to do with good governance or reality. The goal is to render the new administration radioactive and off-limits before inauguration. It’s the politics of destruction, intended to incite blacks, women, gays, and immigrants to ill will.

The White Privilege meme got traction from Black Lives Matter-inspired demonstrations on campuses last year. White America stood accused of unearned social benefits that it takes for granted. Days before the election, in “Behind 2016’s Turmoil, a Crisis of White Identity,” the New York Times’s Amanda Taub proposed declining white status as the root of nationalist political movements worldwide.

“White people are being asked — or pushed — to take stock of their whiteness and identify with it more. This is a remarkably bad idea. The last thing our society needs is for white people to feel more tribal,” Daniel Marcus observed last spring in the Federalist. “The result of this tribalism will not be a catharsis of white identity, improving equality for non-whites. It will be resentment towards being the only tribe not given the special treatment bestowed by victimhood.”

Even trannies, don’t forget the trannies. Were federal transgender bathroom access directives from OSHA an election deal-breaker? Many smart minds on the Left think so. A big chunk of middle America, trying to hold down jobs and raise children — a minute after getting semi-OK with constitutionally protected gay marriage — said what’s going on here. Meanwhile Bubble America cooed over “brave” Bruce Jenner’s public overhaul.

The 2016 election points “to a new American politics that overcomes denial, rejects bubble thinking, and reckons with reality,” the venture capital investor Peter Thiel has suggested. I hope he is correct.

The Democratic establishment does not want to see what is before its eyes. It has America wrong. Its dreaded White Nationalists are in reality a multi-ethnic, tax-paying middle class that values security, work, religion, and patriotism, squeezed by cheap labor. Many of them voted for Obama last time. Many have a direct connection with the military, rare among Bubble People. They are tired of Malibu and West End Avenue bullies who tag them bumpkins and monsters while getting richer and richer by outsourcing their jobs. Epithets like White Nationalism / Supremacy are not likely to bother them much going forward.

Amazingly, even some top Times editors admit the anti-Trump bias of some reporters and front-page headline writers is overt, unprofessional, and wrong. But identity liberalism’s narrative is an easy sell in the thinking classes, and many journalists subscribe to it with all their hearts. To Bubble America, the haters, kooks, and insane won. Trump’s election is the triumph of bigotry, end of story. Any number of journalists, academics, and filmmakers are invested in the narrative, emotionally and career-wise. How could identity liberalism’s holy vision go so bust?

Now it’s time for a good scare. Key in nationalism, dark forces, fake news, immigrant concentration camps, and for an extra shiver, the spectral Ku Klux Klan. As if on cue, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued “Ten Days After: Harassment and Intimidation in the Aftermath of the Election.” The so-called report catalogs a sudden rise of post-election Trump-related hate and bigotry, none of it substantiated or verified. Yet mainstream media air the unfounded accusations as fact. Be very afraid, America hears, and the credulous among us accept as true this misinformation.

As Peter Thiel points out, Americans of all backgrounds remember and long for a competent, can-do government.

Not many Trumpists want to end immigration. What they want are fewer but higher-quality immigrants. They see something else pouring into the country, or already here, perhaps going through their trashcans early in the morning. If once tidy neighborhoods start to look like Guadalajara or Manila slums, many Americans want to know why this is so. It’s low-trust and cut-throat in the other America. But no problema for Bubble America, where the cash-only help drives in for the day or comes in on the bus, and then goes home to… wherever. Most Americans don’t have any help.

For recent immigrants to the U.S., “national identity is more important than any ethnic or transnational loyalty,” strategists John Fonte and John O’Sullivan contend, an idea that would have been self-evident to all Americans from the Founding until a few decades ago. But Bubble America gets nervous at such sovereign, ethnocentric thoughts, or even noticing the nation’s Anglo-European roots.

Race riots in Charlotte and Milwaukee helped turn the election in North Carolina and Wisconsin, no doubt. Many Americans, white and not, don’t like black thugs offing policemen in the line of duty. The U.S. has repurposed private and public institutions — and altered the idea of free association — in order to make integration and racial harmony come alive. It’s driven affirmative action into everything. But ruined cities, schools with razor-wire fences, massive welfare handouts, and a deeply alienated black population that feels perpetually shortchanged indicate something’s terribly wrong.

For black America, maybe Trump was on to something when he spoke on Aug. 22 in perhaps his finest campaign moment to a largely white audience in Akron, Ohio:

The Democrats have failed completely in the inner cities. For those hurting the most who have been failed and failed by their politician — year after year, failure after failure, worse numbers after worse numbers. Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing, no homes, no ownership. Crime at levels that nobody has seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats. And I ask you this, I ask you this — crime, all of the problems — to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people: What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out. I’ll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?

Not bad. In fact, a good question for the entire nation, given declining ability to police public space and curb anti-social behavior among all races. Trump exploited yeoman America’s dispossession brilliantly, perhaps cynically and to no good. He promises a competent, can-do government of the kind that Thiel idealizes. We’ll soon find out what he can deliver.

There is much in Trump to worry about, as he plays post-election rallies like the showman he is, relishing his ability to sway rowdy crowds like a rock star, and tweeting as a means of conducting policy.

Still, some 60 million voting Americans rose up against nonchalant Bubble America, with its golf courses on the ocean and private jets in the air. While so blessed, Trump promises to stand as a tribune, not shaming Americans for sticking up for their country, its inherited past, or its unique achievements. For that, they have made him president.

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