The Sinister Symmetry Of CRT And GRT
The extremes of right and left on immigration are fueling each other.
The MSM rushed last weekend to explain the previously obscure conspiracy theory that motivated a mass-murderer on a shooting spree in a black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. We didn’t get to read the warped “manifesto” of the mass shooter, but we were told about its account of “Great Replacement Theory.” It posits that a shadowy, global elite (in this case — surprise! — Jewish) is deliberately fostering mass non-white immigration to dilute the voting power of white Americans. The goal is a minority-majority country in which the Republican Party is doomed by inexorable racial demographics, and a whole new multiracial society can be built on the smoldering ruins of “white supremacy.”
“Wait a minute!” as Homer Simpson might say. Haven’t I heard some of that kind of talk before? It’s coming back to me now. Here’s one devotee: “Folks like me who are Caucasian of European descent — for the first time in 2017 we’ll be an absolute minority in the United States of America. Absolutely minority … That’s not a bad thing. That’s a source of our strength.” Here’s another: “There’s nothing really [the Republicans] can do against this incredible demographic revolution.” And another: “The Republican majority has always been based upon whites and, in particular, white males … The bulwark of Republican electoral strength is disappearing.”
These quotes are from then-VP Joe Biden, Univision founder Jorge Ramos, and sassy Dem Party hack James Carville celebrating the implosion of white America. This was also the theory that drove the 2016 Clinton campaign to ignore white swing voters and focus instead on the non-white: “What I found fascinating about the primary was how we got into our different demographic lanes, and demographics were to some extent destiny,” was how the genius Robby Mook put it, before he helped elect Trump.
No, these people do not represent a secret conspiracy — let alone a Jewish one — to dilute the “whiteness” of America. There is nothing secret about it at all. The majority-minority enthusiasts represent instead a transparent movement to see Americans primarily in racial/generational terms, to view a multi-racial society as a zero-sum endeavor in which a gain for whites always means a loss for non-whites, and who therefore cheer the declining percentage of Americans who are deemed “white.”
Whole libraries could be constructed by the books outlining this thesis. It really got started with John Judis’ and Ruy Teixeira’s “The Emerging Democratic Majority” (2002), Sid Blumenthal’s “The Strange Death of Republican America” (2008), Carville’s “40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation” (2009), Ron Brownstein’s Next America project (2012), Paul Taylor’s “The Next America” (2014), and William Frey’s “Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America” (2014), to cite a few. All of them argue that mass immigration is a critical factor in making America majority non-white and therefore Democratic. And all of them are pretty much psyched.
When I say “psyched,” there is a spectrum. Here’s Michelle Goldberg not so long ago: “Right now America is tearing itself apart as an embittered white conservative minority clings to power, terrified at being swamped by a new multiracial polyglot majority” — and she “felt good” about that non-white future. Here’s Jen Rubin, reacting to the news last year that the Census found numbers of white people falling: “This is fabulous news. Now we need to prevent minority White rule.” And who can forget Michael Moore’s reaction to the same news “Best day ever in U.S. history.”
None of them seemed concerned that the thesis could boomerang on them. By “boomerang,” I mean racializing politics so aggressively that you actually help create and legitimize a racially white party — because of negative partisanship. In the words of Michael Barone: “When you keep telling white Americans that they will soon become a minority — a message that sometimes sounds like ‘hurry up and die’ — then many non-college graduate ‘deplorables’ may start acting like members of a self-conscious minority, and vote more cohesively.” Exactly.
And when this demographic prediction is combined with constant denigration of “white people,” and when a simple white majority is suddenly redefined as “white supremacy” — indistinguishable from the era of Jim Crow — then feelings might get, shall we say, “triggered.” If you demonize an entire race, you may at some point get the compliment returned. The more you raise racial consciousness among non-whites, the more you risk the same among whites. As Thomas Chatterton Williams warned: “so long as we fetishize race, we ensure that we will never be rid of the hierarchies it imposes.”
As for the GRT notion that demographic transformation was somehow imposed on America by cunning elites, there’s no real evidence for that. The key moment — the Immigration Act of 1965, which made non-white immigration a priority — was not deemed demographically revolutionary at the time. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach testified: “This bill is not designed to increase or accelerate the numbers of newcomers permitted to come to America.” Senator Edward Kennedy pledged:
The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.
His brother, Bobby, told the House subcommittee his prediction of Asian immigration under the bill: “I would say for the Asia-Pacific Triangle, it would be approximately 5,000, Mr. Chairman, after which immigration from that source would virtually disappear … we do not expect that there would be any great influx after that.” Emanuel Celler, House sponsor of the bill, insisted: “Quota immigration under the bill is likely to be more than 80 percent European.”
And yet by 1998, Patrick Reddy, a Democratic consultant, boasted that the act had “resulted in a wave of immigration from the Third World that should shift the nation in a more liberal direction within a generation. It will go down as the Kennedy family’s greatest gift to the Democratic Party.” And by 2018, 78 percent of immigrants were non-European, and Europeans made up a mere 9.8 percent of new green-card holders in 2020. As for Bobby Kennedy’s prediction of 5,000 immigrants from Asia, the number now is 14 million. Not a plot. Just a massive predictive error.
Mass illegal immigration has also lent legitimacy to gripes about rapid demographic change against the majority will. You could argue that the 1965 Act was a democratic process; but you can’t really say that about subsequent illegal immigration. The GOP liked the cheap labor; the Democrats believed that it would eventually help them win elections. That wasn’t a conspiracy, but it was a kind of anti-democratic mutual understanding — and you can’t blame someone for thinking it felt like one. Voters repeatedly voted for border control, but even Trump failed.
This is in no way to defend GRT. Its racial essentialism, its denial of America’s multiracial identity from its very origins, its denial of obvious diversity within white America, its rancid anti-Semitism, and its defense of violence make it a deeply repellent ideology. And in the minds of the disturbed or depraved online, these kinds of ideas can indeed motivate horrifying violence. (Similar forms of racism have also inspired violence from anti-white assailants, such as the recent NYC subway shooter and the Waukesha killer.)
GRT also injects race into the debate where it’s not needed. Americans are generally indifferent to the race of immigrants — until primed one way or another. Around 15 percent of Americans think a declining white share of the population is a good thing, 22 percent think it’s a bad thing, but a solid 61 percent think it’s neither good nor bad. It’s that race-neutral, color-blind center ground that GRT assaults. Its racialization of citizenship is toxic.
You can see this especially in its view of Latino immigration. Instead of seeing this new wave as a European one, they mark them out as different, the way previous Americans saw Italians as somehow “non-white.” But Hispanics are originally from Europe, and share Western values like Christianity, family life, and self-advancement. They are following a classic immigration pattern. They deserve to be seen not as “white” (as many regard themselves) or “non-white.” They deserve to be seen as merely Americans.
But if you agree with that, it seems to me you cannot at the same time advance an identical racialization of citizenship in reverse. And that’s what too many on the left are doing. A liberalism that believes that racial identity is the core identity for an American, that “whiteness” is a definable American characteristic that needs to be “dismantled,” and that the central political struggle in the US is between older whites and younger non-whites, is a liberalism helpless in the face of white nationalism.
In fact, it is a liberalism that fuels and empowers, legitimizes and provokes white nationalism. It sees race first; it sees groups rather than individuals; it denies the possibility of color-blind citizenship; and it sees white people as a “problem” — in Jon Stewart’s formula — bigoted until proven otherwise, inherently oppressive, a race to be stigmatized and diluted as quickly and as broadly as possible. And this form of racial essentialism — this anti-white racism — is now propagated by every major cultural, corporate and educational institution as if it were God’s own truth.
And this is the trap we are in. CRT and GRT are in a deadly and poisonous dance in our culture. They foster ever-increasing levels of racial identity in each other; they demonize whole populations because of skin color; they both believe liberal democracy is rigged against them; and the logic of their mutual, absolutist racial politics is civil conflict, not democratic deliberation.
If we are to get past the kind of ugly violence and race essentialism in Great Replacement Theory, then we also need an antidote to the toxins of Critical Race Theory. The two illiberalisms are profoundly connected. They need each other. And, in their racialized heart, they are morally exactly the same.
(Note to readers: This is an excerpt of The Weekly Dish. If you’re already a subscriber, click here to read the full version. This week’s issue also includes: my review of an Austrian film about the brutal gay persecution that endured even after the Nazis fell; a long conversation with David French — the great Christian conservative foe of the Trump right; a few reader dissents over my fisking of Bill Kristol; seven notable quotes from the week in news; 13 pieces we recommend from a variety of other Substackers; a Mental Health Break of ocean waves; a fantastic view of Tarragona, Spain; and the results of the View From Your Window contest — with a new challenge. Subscribe for the full Dish experience!)
This reader isn’t ready to pull the trigger:
As mentioned by one of your Dishheads, I’m also pretty left of center but always look forward to your newsletter “to see how the other half lives.” I am not (yet) a subscriber, but if I can convince myself I actually have time to subscribe to another site, yours will be at the top of my list.
A newcomer took the plunge:
I decided I needed to expand my bubble after listening to Sam Harris interview Douglas Murray. I had heard of you a bit, but I wouldn’t be able to say why — you left the New York Times or something I think? It was kinda public? That’s all I recall.
But your recent column on the abortion debate, “How Dare They!”, is epic. Truly inspired stuff. It had me clicking the pay button and subscribing for a year. I don’t know if we’ll agree on anything else, but if the rest of the Dish is shit, it’s probably worth sifting through to find more like this.
A long-time subscriber points to something that isn’t shit:
Your blog thread of late-term abortion stories, “It’s So Personal,” reduced me to tears many years ago. It hasn’t lost its power. Tears again. It doesn’t matter which side of this debate I’m on. It’s a thread for the ages.
For a robust debate over abortion, last week we posted a big collection of reader dissents over “How Dare They!” Check it out ICYMI.
New On The Dishcast: David French
He’s a political writer and former attorney who took on high-profile cases for religious liberty. He was also a major in the Army Reserve who served in Iraq, and before that he served as president of FIRE, the campus free-speech group. David now writes for The Dispatch and The Atlantic, and his latest book is Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation. Last summer he wrote this wonderful review of my essay collection, Out On A Limb, but this is the first time we’ve spoken.
For two clips of our convo — on how many political Christians completely miss the point of Jesus, and on the “God gap” within the Democratic coalition — head over to our YouTube page. Listen to the whole episode here. That convo is a good complement to our January episode with Christopher Rufo (the two have tussled before), so we just transcribed Rufo’s episode in full. Here’s a reminder of his stance on CRT in the schools:
Starting around the 30-minute mark in the new episode, David French and I discuss the tricky defense of liberalism in the face of both CRT curriculum and anti-CRT bills, so in many ways it’s a continuation of the Rufo pod.
Browse the entire Dishcast archive for an episode you might enjoy.
Dissents Of The Week: How Not To Treat Your Rivals
A reader writes:
Opening your latest Dish on “How Not To Change Your Mind,” I had hoped for your characteristic insight on the issue of how pundits and political actors (or anyone, really) should explicate changes of heart and mind with integrity. Instead, I was disappointed to read a mere indictment of one Bill Kristol, whom you duly, yet rather dully, convicted of having said one thing before and another thing now.
Couldn’t you have invited him on your podcast instead, or written this piece as an open letter earnestly seeking a response? The result might have been edifying, or at the very least interesting, and could even have led to a reckoning of some value to you, your readers, Kristol, and perhaps liberalism itself. It felt instead like mere score-settling because of his facile opposition to gay marriage at a time when you were fighting bravely for change.
Another reader also thinks “it would have been much more Dish-y to have invited Bill onto your podcast and asked him, with respect and curiosity, what explains his new political stripes”:
I actually think there’s something beautiful and inspiring about many of the vocal Never Trump Republicans, like the folks over at The Bulwark, including Charlie Sykes, Tim Miller, Sarah Longwell, and, yes, Bill Kristol. Through lifelong political careers, they were party faithful — and then, when the party embraced its fringe, and changed beyond all recognition, they went back to first principles: God, family, country, et al. For Charlie especially, with Bill joining him as a frequent podcast guest, this has been a very public journey.
I’m not going to address the shifts of everyone at The Bulwark — just Kristol. And with Kristol, as I tried to point out, the case is very clear. He long argued for exactly the direction the GOP has taken in its social conservatism and no-compromise radicalism. I think some kind of explanation in writing is the least a public intellectual can do.
Lastly, a very important correction from one reader to another:
The poem that a reader quoted, “I Long to Hold the Poetry Editor’s Penis in My Hand,” is actually by the wonderful poet Francesca Bell, not Nina Puro, as the reader suggests — an innocent mistake because Puro posted the poem on her blog.
As always, keep the dissents coming: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The word “oppression” has become so over-used it’s useful to be reminded of what it actually is. A beautiful new Austrian film charts a couple of decades in a young gay man’s life in Germany from 1945 to 1969:
Read my review of the film here (for paid subscribers).
In The ‘Stacks
This is a feature in the paid version of the Dish spotlighting about a dozen of our favorite pieces from other Substackers every week. This week’s selection covers the inflation debate, baby formula, US intervention in Somalia, and other topics. An excerpt:
Now the pomo left is playing language games with abortion.
You can also browse all the Substack writers we follow and read on a regular basis here — a combination of our favorite writers and new ones we’re checking out. It’s a blogroll of sorts. If you have any recommendations for “In the ‘Stacks,” especially ones from emerging writers, please let us know: email@example.com.
The View From Your Window Contest
Where do you think it’s located? Email your guess to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put the location — city and/or state first, then country — in the subject line. Proximity counts if no one gets the exact spot. Bonus points for fun facts and stories. The winner gets the choice of a VFYW book or two annual Dish subscriptions. If you are not a subscriber, please indicate that status in your entry and we will give you a free month subscription if we select your entry for the contest results (example here if you’re new to the contest). Happy sleuthing!
The results for last week’s window are coming in a separate email to paid subscribers later today.
See you next Friday.