You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Racist

There is a brand new Pew Poll out that indicates that interracial marriage has increased five-fold  in the fifty years since the US Supreme Court found laws banning it unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia. Of course, almost half of Republican voters in Mississippi think interracial marriage should still be illegal. Over at the Alt-Right site, American Renaissance they disapprove of interracial marriage (surprise!).


The rise in interracial marriage seems to belie an old racist idea summarized by the old cliché, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This idea is that it is natural for people of one race to separate themselves from those of a different race. Even today, scientific racists try to offer all kinds of arguments  about how natural race prejudice is. (I’ve published some criticisms of these kinds of arguments here and here.)

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William F. Buckley, Jr., the Respectable Right, and Human Equality


The right wing. Is there anything better than a visual pun?

The “Alt” in Alt-Right has a double meaning. On the one hand, “alt” is German for “old” and the Alt-Right claims to be the heirs to the isolationist right of pre-World War II America.  On the other, “alt” is also short for “alternative” making the Alt-Right the alternative to the mainstream right wing of American politics. So, you might ask the Alt-Right: what is the “mainstream” right of American politics to which thou art alternative?

You could write a several terabytes on trying to define such a vexed question and people have. Let’s take this handy summary provided by a recent book on conservative politics by George Hawley:

  • Conservatives call for limited, if any, government intervention in the economy.
  • Conservatives hold that tradition, particularly religious tradition, should guide public policy.
  • Conservatives are for a strong military and a strong American military presence in the world.

The Alt-Right holds itself as an alternative to these positions in various ways: Libertarians would claim that limited government might be an improvement over the status quo, but it is still inherently inferior to no government; Randians would claim that tradition, especially religious tradition, is no way to run society; isolationists would withdraw from the world rather than engage with it through our military.

Shifting our focus from the “alt” to the “right” we get a different question: what makes all these differing ideologies “right?” The answer is that both alt and mainstream right adhere to one common tenet: the rejection of “equality” as a supreme value. According to Hawley, the Left seeks equality as the highest value while the Right can and does hold other values as more important than equality. Political theorist Corey Robin argues that the mark of the Right is that it opposes the equal distribution of power. Only a certain kind of people should be making decisions in society; the rest are just not up to the task of governing. Hence, appeals to equality are suspect in all right wing discourse, whether alt or mainstream.

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The Racist Right and that Island in the Pacific

Trivia Question: What city (pop. over 100,000) is farthest away from any other city? The answer is….Honolulu. We don’t think of Honolulu as a remote city because it gets about 8,000,000 visitors a year. There are certainly other cities that are harder to get to. Hawai’i is both very, very remote from the world as well as very connected to the world. Which leads us to our Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. You see, a federal judge blocked Trump’s latest Muslim Ban as unconstitutional. In an interview, Sessions assured conservatives the Trump Muslim ban will eventually be upheld by the Courts:

I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.

Trump has lost three in a row on this issue, and the final disposition of the case appears to be a long way away. Rather than focusing on why the ban is a within the President’s power, Sessions chose instead to issue this weird remark about Hawai’i. So, it is worth trying to figure out why he would say such a weird thing.

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