Donald J. Trump brings with him to the White House the return of the President as racist. Or so the story goes. A monolithic leader of white national supremacy that is hellbent on continuing both the Great Game and Manifest Destiny. Only this time, instead of spreading white nationalism outwardly on to the world, Trump is spreading it inwardly by way of a kind of perverse 21st century reverse-colonialism.
In a seething fit of misplaced populist rage, Donald Trump is following in the footsteps of the great Indian slayer Andrew Jackson to become the 45th US President, thus reclaiming the odious mantle of the Commoner-In-Chief. Standard leftist house organs like the Washington Post and New York Times have made attempts to impugn Trump by conflating the two Presidents’ worldviews. Or so the narrative goes.
With the ghost of Jackson once again haunting the halls of the White House at night, the great anachronism of racism seems to have returned from the grave. With Trump lounging comfortably behind a large wooden desk in a fluffy leather chair signing a slew of executive orders in the Oval Office as the official President of the United States, half of the country is griped with a dark and growing fear. Is it possible that racism is making a roaring return to snuff out the post-racial gains in the age of Barack Obama?
Obama himself decided to kindle the fires of racial tension by signing in November 2014 a controversial executive order for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), to protect the parents of US citizens and permanent residents from deportation. Later he struck a blow to Republican lawmakers vowing to enforce border security with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which shields from deportation undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.
Both provisions came in the form of executive orders from the president’s desk and went against the wishes of the American people. With the shoe now of the other foot, Trump has decided to add some salt in the game by temporarily excluding those seeking to travel to the United States from seven predominately Muslim nations for a period of 90 days and barring refugees from entering for a period of 120 days. Syrian refugees would be inadmissible indefinitely. The 9th Circuit Court in California, as we know, feels otherwise. The executive decree, just as a federal appeals court said that President Obama could not move forward with his plans to overhaul immigration rules by providing up to five million people with work permits and protection from deportation, was ruled unconstitutional.
It seems that both Presidents wanted to play to the crowd and swing for the fences politically with their ink pens to impress their own respective constituents. In much of the same way people see these executive orders as being unilateral decisions to bypass Congress, they both deal with immigration and share one predominately key ingredient, they are hot button issues that lend themselves to being fodder and ammunition in the US culture wars. On these embattled front lines, in an ever-present display of fervent and acerbic flair, is the ever-present specter of Jacksonian rule: a society viewed through the lens of racial angst and tension.
Jackson ran as an alternative voice to the establishment, much like Trump, and centered his candidacy in military law and order. John Quincy Adams, his opposition for the presidency, painted him as a grasping and bloodthirsty character, a budding tyrant in the model of Caesar or Napoleon whose election would spell the death of the republic. Sound familiar? It could be suggested that history is repeating itself once again, this time in an all too familiar form.
During Jackson’s first term as President a slave by the name of Nat Turner went on a rebellion of epic proportion. Considered by some to be the one of the worst acts of terrorism ever unleashed upon the land, Nat Turner’s Rebellion is taught in nearly every school child’s history book in America. Within twenty-four hours of his brutal attack Nat Turner and 30 other slaves who rebelled with him, killed fifty-five people, including thirteen women and twenty-seven children in a rampage across the Virginia countryside in 1831. Striking out and killing whites indiscriminately resulted in sheer terror by those that continued to hold slaves. Turner and his coterie of butchers were brutally brought to heel by those that thought such actions impossible.
In the present day, burning in the background and smoldering just beneath the surface, is something that is causing these old fires to be rekindled in a new and destructive way. On college campuses, it has become popular among administrators and activist groups to suggest that only whites can be racist. At first blush such a claim seems absurd but activists insist this is true because racism requires more than mere prejudice toward a group or another person, it requires institutional power. With such institutional power backing up white people they can use their racist tendencies in ways that other lesser institutionalized minorities can only fathom. Claims such as this are starting reshape the way universities teach their curriculum and guide their campuses toward purported civic harmony.
While these views may seem healthy by those within the university system, the overall message is clear. If you are a person of color, you are justified if you chose to discriminate against white people, simply by virtue of not being labeled a racist for doing the deed itself. While American college campuses are not advocating violent measures to level the playing field against their white peers and professors academically, the concern might be more in the attitudes and atmosphere that led up to the Turner rebellion, and not the rebellion itself.
What can only be described as radically-driven acts against whites in the name of battling racism are quickly growing on university campuses nationwide. Such views have not gone without their problems. For example, students at the University of Pennsylvania have removed a portrait of William Shakespeare and replaced it with the picture of Audre Lorde, an African American writer, civil rights activist, and self-described, “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Was Shakespeare part of the systematic racial oppression of blacks in America writing from his playhouse in 16th century England? We hope not.
Given the stereotypes of blacks in the Elizabethan Era as villains, audiences must have been shocked at Othello, a dignified and noble hero of a tragedy. Was Shakespeare, given that few blacks lived among the population at the time, a forerunner for racial equality, or are gestures such as these inadequate to the sensibilities of students in the English Department at U Penn in the 21st century? The chair of the English Department was left to decide the fate of such a symbolic character. Should his picture be rehung, and if so, would this be a racially charged political act against the will of the student body? It is a complicated task.
Also, Shakespeare is not the only bard under fire for being white, literary, and damaging to the canon as we know it. The student union at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) insists that when studying philosophy “the majority of philosophers on our courses” should be from Africa and Asia. In fact, the students are demanding that figures such as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant should be largely dropped from the curriculum because they are white. Not because their philosophies are inferior mind you, but solely because they are white.
Considering that the long-standing curriculum of elite schools has come under attack by students that want to rethink the values and importance of foundational Western voices in Humanities Departments, there are those, too, that want to reinforce these standards onto the student body at large. The Sunday Times reported academics such as Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University in Britain, as being taken aback by a report’s claims that students of color do not feel they can learn from white professors. “Black students’ progress is being stalled by university tutors who are “60-year-old white men” and “potentially racist”, according to students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London” avers the newspaper. In contrast, “Black Education” published by Thomas Sowell, arguably America’s greatest living black scholar, found that artificially engineering faculties to have a preponderance of BME academics damaged educational outcomes for BME students in the United States.
So, if students are on a rampage trying to overturn centuries of educational dogma, and such desires are not in their favor academically, why would universities press on and encourage such behavior? The answer might be found in Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s executive pens. Both pens are mighty swords of public proposal that have sought to make sweeping changes to the racial landscape of American culture and jurisprudence via presidential decree. Public decree, not debate, is now becoming normalized in campus race relations.
For many Obama is a hero to Liberals for his executive actions supporting illegal migrant Hispanic children, and Trump is a villainous and insensitive cretin for his order temporarily barring people from Muslim countries. Both orders have their proponents and both have those that would like to see the orders overturned. But Trump and Obama have had their detractors call into question their motives which have been seen as racial in nature and not solely manifest in national security. Trump was labeled by Time Magazine this month as “spreading racism” for his executive order on January 27, 2017. Obama intended to “unilaterally reshape U.S. immigration law in the absence of Congressional action” according to the same magazine. It can be assumed that if Barack Obama had jumped into the fray the way Trump did and sought a temporary restriction of people from Muslim countries, an accusation of racism would not have followed.
The consensus opinion that only whites can be racist is now being openly disseminated in Human Resources Departments on campuses across the country. Haverford, Swarthmore, and Bryn Mawr College published a guide on terms related to “allyship and anti-oppression,” according to Campus Reform, a ring-leaning watchdog group. The organization claims the seminars are designed to inform students that “It’simportant to note that while many white people are oppressed on the basis of class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, culture, ethnicity, etc., it is still true that ALL white people still benefit from white privilege, though in different ways,” according to the guide.”
Reverse racism is not possible say these colleges, because minorities do not hold the levers of power and, therefore, are simply unable to be racist, even if their actions are openly discriminatory and hostile to whites. Discrimination is not racism under these guidelines, at least not if it is black on white discrimination. One has to wonder what these academic administrators would say in relation to Nat Turner? Was targeting and killing white children with axes not racist because he lacked institutionally sanctioned power?
It is doubtful anyone outside of the university would see, solely for the purpose of minority voices and students of color to feel empowered, that censorship and derision of white scholars and authors would be beneficial in of itself, but this has become the battle cry of many in American and British classrooms in 2017. Thedanger of absolutism is the sign of an ailing culture and not one about to break over the horizon to a new dawn embarking on the final stages of healing centuries of racial enmity. No, it feels more like the strange sensation of someone unhappy with a long card game who, in their frustration, overturns the table just to make sure that no wins.
Let us hope that the Black Lives Matter remains peaceful going forward and the eternally sleeping Andrew Jackson will be a distant memory, not a reanimated figure raised from a retired age and brought back to life to haunt us in the form of Donald J. Trump. Given that UC Berkeley protesters caused $100,000 dollars in property damage recently in a rage of student anger toward a Conservative speaker on campus, it leaves one to wonder if a specific spark might not turn into a forest fire of as hardleft rises and lets their animus for Trump fuel a conflagration. When the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Tweets ““White ppl are recessive genetic defects this is factual” it is nearly impossible to not call such rhetoric inflammatory and assume the worst is yet to come.