This clip is profoundly depressing to me:
In it Bill Maher describes right wing political correctness, that there are things you can’t say, and gives the example of racism in America as something that will not be discussed. That’s a good point. Considering the Charleston murderer, there’s a quite grotesque level of evasion about the motives of the killer.
The idea that this is just some crazy person is every bit as specious as the argument that the Islamic jihdists are just “lone wolves” or that “there is no Islamic terrorism, there’s just terrorism”. And the political right – my lot – should have no truck with this.
Evasion is the only word here. This is plainly an act of fascist terrorism. A fan of Mark Steyn, I was depressed to see him attack the ‘politicization‘ of this atrocity. He’d do well to reread his own piece jeering – rightly – at those who were complaining that the fall of Benghazi was being politicized.
Then Bill goes completely wrong in trying to blame Fox News and the rest of the US establishment conservatives for incitement, even drawing parallel between Fox and Anwar al- Awalaki. The rest of the clip is thoroughly unproductive.
Now the word “incitement” means to want something to happen, to deliberately call for something to happen. Someone saying immigration should be stopped is not guilty of incitement, someone calling for lynching is.
In no sense is the mainstream US right inciting this stuff. Broadly speaking, the US right wishes race and racism just didn’t exist. Why shouldn’t they? Anti-racism is a stick routinely used to beat them. The slant of magazines like National Review is broadly speaking individualist. No identity politics. Why should we be blamed for the crimes of our ancestors? If there’s a parallel to their politics, it’s closer to the liberal nationalism of nineteenth century Europe – “Why do we have to be hyphenated-Americans? Isn’t it better to lay aside the baggage of the past and be united in one nation?” And so forth.
Roof’s manifesto is not like that. He draws on a tradition that isn’t just an exaggerated version of US conservatism, but one that is alien to both of America’s political traditions.
Writing about the firing of John Derbyshire from National Review, the Midwest Ballard Review wrote as follows:
[T]he basic National Review position, the average Republican position, the average sentiment of the red American. It’s conservative, but still sees itself as fighting for and working within the bounds of America’s founding mythology: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” you know the rest.
Derbyshire wasn’t ever on that team
That’s quite right. This is not the conservatism of Edmund Burke – opposing the French Revolution and praising the American – but that of Carlyle. To phrase it another way US liberals think racism is an evil that still needs to be combated and US conservatives think racism an evil that will fade away if people quit fussing over it, but reactionaries think racism is a good thing that needs to be encouraged.
That’s the problem with Maher’s line. When you convict innocents, you let the guilty off the hook. The real source behind Roof’s manifesto are not people like Rush Limbaugh, but people like Jared Taylor. Not Fox News, but VDARE. Not the right of Thatcher and Regan, but the right of Julius Evola.
Roof’s true ideological muses are completely unscathed by all this – which is a guarantee that things will only get worse in the future. Not least because – as I’ve pointed out before – the mainstream is useless when it comes down to real racism, real fascism.
You simply cannot yell “racist!” at ever higher decibels and expect that to make a difference. Instead, you need to do the hard, boring spadework of taking on the arguments underlying this stuff on their own turf and in their own terms, and refute them there.