Rod Dreher is a strange man.
“Now, what I found most interesting in Ehrett’s review, and definitely something I want to think about, is his argument that Christianity is really going to be a bystander in the coming clash between Progressivism and Atavism. You really need to read his review discussion of the idea, because I can’t do it justice by summing it up, and I want to think about it more deeply before I commit to a comment. Basically, he says that in our post-Christian civilization, the Alt-Right’s ideas, including of racial separatism, are going to mount the true challenge to Progressivism, and that the best the faithful church can do is stand on the sidelines and serve as a field hospital to care for the wounded. I hasten to add that this is not what Ehrett, a Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) Christian, wants to happen; it’s what he sees as likely to happen. The churches cannot accept either “alien ideologies” of Left or Right, Ehrett correctly says, but it has to be prepared to be a “wartime church” to attend to the casualties to come. …
I’ve been very clear that Critical Race Theory and its various expressions are alien to Christianity. This is also true of whatever white-identity versions of the same the alt-right comes up with. Racism, whether it goes under a left-wing cover or a right-wing cover, has no place in the church. I believe, though, that the fact that left-radicals have seized all the institutions, and are pushing their ideology very hard, even violently — this is going to legitimize the same identity-politics evil in the eyes of many whites on the right.”
Rod Dreher has gotten better in recent years at developing some degree of historical awareness. He has recently admitted that he was raised on the “Dokka Kang had a Dream” racial liberalism in the 1970s. He took this nonsense for granted and assumed it was permanent. Surely, he knows that the life experience of American Gen X’ers is hardly synonymous with either Christianity or American history.
The idea that Christianity is incompatible with White identity and “racism” flies in the face of American history. White identity was normal for three centuries in the United States. America was a White Man’s Country. This was the dominant mainstream view until the post-World War II era. The American was White, Anglo-Saxon (in culture), Protestant and liberal and republican in principles. Millions of Americans were uncomfortable with Catholicism and even less comfortable with the idea that non-Whites were Americans. The vast majority of Americans once agreed that America was a White Christian country. While it is true that they believed in liberal and republican principles, it is also true that this country had a racial, religious and cultural character until World War II, which was preserved in law and custom. This ethnocultural foundation was only dismantled by liberal elites in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
The idea that America is really based on nothing but the “American Creed” is a post-World War II vision that was fulfilled by the Civil Rights Movement. The Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal developed this false opposition between the “creed” and ethnicity in his 1944 book An American Dilemma. Americanism was deracinated and turned into nothing but abstract creedal liberalism in order to fight the Soviets in the Cold War. The postwar consensus – liberalism, modernism, cosmopolitanism and antiracism – frames what Rod Dreher believes is “Christianity.” Of these four doctrines, liberalism is the oldest while the other three only became culturally ascendant in the 20th century. The Founding Fathers are currently being demonized by the Left for their lack of fidelity to antiracism which was invented in the 1920s and mainstreamed in the 1940s. America wasn’t founded on MLK’s Dream.
Does Rod Dreher believe that black identity is incompatible with Christianity? Is the African Methodist Episcopal Church compatible with Christianity? Is Korean identity incompatible with Presbyterianism? We have Korean churches in my area in Columbus, GA, Auburn, AL and Montgomery, AL. How can White identity be incompatible with Christianity, but not Korean identity or black identity? Does that make any sense? This isn’t because of “Christianity” which never troubled itself about “racism” for nearly two thousand years until the term was invented by communists in the 1920s. It isn’t because of liberalism either. It is because of modernism, cosmopolitanism and antiracism.
Rod Dreher believes in a timeless Christianity which has not been completely transformed by modern cultural trends. Was Christianity implacably opposed to “racism” and whiteness in 19th century America? How about 19th century Britain or 19th century Germany? Was Christianity always implacably opposed to German ethnicity or French ethnicity or English ethnicity or Irish ethnicity? To ask the question is to answer it. The truth is that religion and ethnicity have always been closely associated. Catholic France, for example, used to be called “eldest daughter of the church.”
The reason why Rod Dreher thinks Christianity is inherently opposed to whiteness, but not to blackness and supports the repression of whiteness, but not blackness is due to his own peculiar time in which multiculturalism is ascendant. A century ago, America’s liberal elites were just beginning to become cosmopolitan and modernist, but it wasn’t yet a norm. Antiracism certainly wasn’t a norm. White identity certainly wasn’t taboo. The Second Klan was a mass movement. President Calvin Coolidge could say, “Biological laws show that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races.”
White church, bad. Black church, good. White Christian, bad. Black Christian, good. As Rod Dreher has pointed out many times, this gigantic liberal, modernist, cosmopolitan and antiracist blind spot is why his own neighbors and even his family members have been uncomfortable around him and have switched to speaking in code at times. They look at Rod and think to themselves, “here comes Rod the sanctimonious city boy with his Modernist values. He will get offended by my real views. I can’t be too candid around this guy.” People like Rod truly believed they were “progressing” toward a colorblind utopia. It was always a delusion as anyone who drives through Selma, AL can plainly see for themselves. Rod was only “progressing” in the sense that he was steadily becoming deracinated like most White Americans. Blacks never considered abandoning their own racial consciousness at any point before or after MLK gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. No one else ever bought into “colorblindness.”
The difference between people like us and Rod is that we don’t believe the “mainstream” is legitimate. There was a time before the “mainstream” when White identity and Christianity flourished in America. Christianity has cratered under the “mainstream.” Why should we preserve these dumb taboos?
Deracinated conservative liberals who believe in modernism, cosmopolitanism and antiracism will respond by accusing us of … “identity politics.” There is nothing wrong with White people having a positive sense of racial identity though. This was normal throughout the vast majority of American history. It is WEIRD to be an antiracist, modernist, cosmopolitan like Rod Dreher and have this arm’s length relationship to your own people. It is WEIRD to think that only your own ethnic group is morally illegitimate. The charge of “identity politics” is conservative liberals whining about the unfairness of how the other side doesn’t uphold the consensus and warning dissidents not to abandon consensus antiracism.
I can’t stress enough how WEIRD this is … OR the absolute futility of conservative liberalism or conservative modernism or conservative cosmopolitanism. Mainstream conservatives like Rod Dreher are conserving all kinds of things which are inherently opposed to conservatism. We choose not to.
UPDATE: According to C. Vann Woodward, this was the Southern mainstream view on race in 1913.