Why is CNN doing a special on White identity politics?
Haven’t we progressed far beyond this sort of explicit White racism? Doesn’t the arc of history bend toward progressive liberalism? Isn’t this stuff far outside the boundaries of the “mainstream”?
Here’s a different perspective:
- American identity and White identity were linked until the mid-20th century
- Race realism was the norm in America until World War II
- The term “racism” was discovered in the 1930s and was popularized during World War II and only reached its present status as the ultimate moral stigma in the 1960s
- The idea that White identity is immoral and needs to be repressed because it is immoral for Whites to assert themselves like other groups, which is completely legitimate when they do it, is a consensus that develops among American elites after World War II
- The “mainstream” was also created between World War I and World War II in New York City and Los Angeles and only established its dominance in the 1950s
In sum, progressives mistake all kinds of things which are features of their own peculiar time and place as some kind of mystical destiny. They take for granted that they will always rule. But what if this isn’t the case? What if their rise to power was the result of a peculiar set of circumstances?
- The creation of the mass media – film, radio, television, mass circulation national news magazines – in the early 20th century which concentrated cultural power in the hands of a tiny metropolitan elite
- The ascendance of America to its current position of “global leadership” – the leader of the gang of rich countries – after World War II
- The disgust with nationalism and racism after the World Wars
- The rejection of the Victorian culture and “mainstream” of the 19th century after World War I
- The rise of the professional managerial class since the 1920s
- More Americans going to college since World War II
- America reaching the peak of both its power and whiteness in the Thirty Glorious Years that followed World War II
- The rise of “meritocracy” sorting Americans into classes and depositing those who get fancy college degrees from prestigious universities in a handful of coastal metropolitan areas
You could argue that this is a passing phase. The current elite was thrown up by the circumstances of the early 20th century – mainly its new technology and geopolitical conflicts – and what we are dealing with now are the people who have inherited all of this power and influence and who are in the process of slipping and squandering it. Such is how all empires and ruling classes have fallen across history.
The so-called “mainstream” used to dominate both parties. Groups like the ADL and the SPLC were widely seen as legitimate in their use of police power against “extremists” and “hate groups.” There was a time in my youth when CNN was even considered a legitimate news organization and “journalists” were still trusted by the public. As recently as twenty years ago, the professional class in this country hadn’t utterly discredited itself in the eyes of the public. American politics wasn’t nearly as polarized in the 1990s.
Everything is changing again now though. The so-called “mainstream” is movies like Home Alone 7 or the Met Gala or Brian Stelter on CNN or award shows which no one watches anymore like the Oscars and Golden Globes. The professional class has lost its legitimacy. It talks to itself now on CNN and MSNBC. It has its own sense of humor. The “mainstream” appears to be fragmenting and shriveling up and dying. Stephen Colbert doesn’t command comedy like Johnny Carson. Ibram X. Kendi doesn’t have the stature or moral authority of MLK. John Avlon doesn’t shape the national news like Walter Cronkite.
If you think about it, the reason that White identity politics went away is due to the rise of this class and its prestige and ability to shape the narrative – it rested on trust and the legitimacy of the professional class – and the reason that it is coming back is related to the decline of this class. It is struggling to maintain its norms and taboos. John Avlon, Brian Stelter and Brianna Kielar lack authority and legitimacy.