What Is This "White" You Speak of, Kemosabe?: Hoisted from the Archives

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Hoisted from the Archives: _What Is This "White" You Speak of, Kemosabe?: One way to look at Nixon's 'Silent Majority' strategy was that it involved the redefinition of lots of people as 'white'—people who wouldn't have been 'white' even thirty years before, back when they were seen as not-quite-real-American ethnic immigrants living in ghettos and serving the corrupt Democratic political machines against which the Republicans fought—probably entangled in organized crime, too.

And of these the champion example is, of course, Mark Krikorian and his defenses of 'white' American culture against the Hispanic Pizza Menace. Think of colonial Massachusetts, and my Bradford, Anderson, Lord, Winthrop, Sewall, Usher, etc. ancestors, I tell you—back in the Days when Benjamin Franklin was worried about an excessive number of immigrants to America from alien and culturally unsympatico Germany. How many Krikorians then? The Nixon 'Silent Majority' strategy was, in a sense, that everyone who is not Black is white—and should join us in our crusade to deprive the welfare queens of their free booze. Which is why the form of the Republican attack on Sonia Sotomayor was very interesting indeed...

Rick Perlstein once said:

It comes out in the endless discussions [Richard Nixon] would have on the tapes to come up with an Italian or a Pole to slot for assistant deputy secretary for thus-and-such. As the memo from Buchanan demonstrates, they were absolutely obsessed with affirmative action for non-WASP (and, implicitly, non-Hebrew) 'whites.' Obsessed. I mean, approaching 1972, and in talks about staffing up the second term, it was one of their top five topics for discussion. And that relates to something David Frum said in a big conference on the future of conservatism in '05, that the big question for political demography was whether ten years from then Hispanics would end up as Jews or Italians—which is to say, permanently in the Democratic or permanently in the Republican coalition.

In '05, to Frum, that seemed up in the air. I guess recent history suggests that the decision has been made easy for them, by the people who ended up in charge of the Republican Party. Bush II and Rove COULD have been like Nixon and Colson: i.e., appointing Hispanics to every other job, Tammany Hall style. Their party's politics prevented it...

The above came from 23009. A decade down the road, I confess that I find myself amazed: Henry Cabot Lodge more than a century ago realized that he could not afford to demonize Irish-Americans, for too many of them voted in elections. Eighty years ago Republicans were happy taking the side of WASPs and WASP-wannabees against unionized and suspiciously socialistic "white ethnics". Fifty years ago Nixon (and Buchanan!, who has just been given another platform at NPR) decided taht the fault line along which to try to break the country put hardscrabble upwardly-mobile white ethnics on their side against Negroes, a liberal WASP establishment that wanted to honor the check Martin Luther King, Jr., was presenting, and—cough cough—"Hollywood and the media". Yet, somehow, a decade and a half ago Republican politicians plus Rupert Murdoch—Fox News—decided to upend this everyone-against-African-Americans-and-their-sympathizers strategy for an anti-Hispanic immigrants one.

Somebody please explain this to me: the base would be as happy to watch heartwarming stories of upwardly-mobile Hispanics on Fox News as to watch manufactured "chaos on the border"...

#globalization #hoistedfromthearchives #neofascism #orangehairedbaboons