by Victor Davis Hanson
Well before Sigmund Freud formalized the idea of “projectionism” – the defense of one’s own shortcomings and sins by attributing them to others – it was a common theme in classical literature and the New Testament: the ridiculing of the mole on someone else’s nose to hide one’s own boil.
The term projection more or less sums up much of the woke identity politics movement, in which obsessions with racial privilege and tribal exceptionalism are justified by accusing others of just such bias.
While such racist projectionism can often be a psychological tic that assuages the guilt of one’s own rank prejudice, just as often accusing others of racism is a peremptory careerist move to win media attention, lucre, or job advancement.
Racists – those who assume those of different races always act collectively in predictable ways, usually far worse than does their own tribe – who charge racism assume that unlike the proverbial wolf crier, there is currently no downside to their hysterias and fantasies.
That is, the racist who for a variety of reasons lobs “Racist!” at others assumes that, even when his tired charges are proven false, in our postmodern society he can argue that these accusations in theory always could be true, and therefore no one would ever accuse a self-identified victim as a racist perpetrator himself.
For example, a Louisiana State University student, who falsely claimed she encountered a noose on campus—supposedly planted by whites to intimidate African-American students such as herself—was hardly contrite when the “noose” turned out to be simply a dangling power wire. Instead of apologizing, the accuser redoubled her claims: “Considering what is currently happening in this country, someone hanging a noose certainly seems plausible . . . Black students all over are being threatened for speaking out. I’ve previously been threatened for talking about race at LSU.”
The Logic of the Tribe
In some sense, today’s hip new racists have adopted the ideology of Lester Maddox and not Martin Luther King, Jr. Segregation, not integration, is the new racist mantra—by dorm, by theme house, by caucus, by safe space, by graduation ceremony.
True intersectionality is impossible for racists—given that competing tribal agendas can never be reconciled. Far from creating force-multiplying woke ideologies by uniting various “identities”—black, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ, female, and non-American—intersectionality becomes a logical contest among professed victims to acquire preeminent tribal victimhood, and with it, DNA-sanctioned superiority.
The logic of the tribe leads to sectarian warfare, not harmony. We see just that when Asians revolt against black and Latino preferences in college admissions. Feminists push back against the endemic misogyny of rap music that is given an intersectional pass to demean women and freely employ the n-word. There is sometimes less, not greater, tolerance for unapologetic homosexuality in supposedly hyper-macho Latino culture. Doctrinaire Islam makes few concessions for the Muslim convert to Christianity; he is still an infidel to be shunned, even killed.
Jussie Smollett hired two black associates to dress up as white Trump-hatted supporters to stage a fake attack on himself. He hoped to gain sympathy as a victim of supposed rampant intersectional racist hatred in the age of Trump. Apparently, only that way would the pathetically desperate Smollett restore his sinking brand and jumpstart his fading acting career—through becoming an icon of the innocent black man symbolically lynched by predatory whites.
Smollett, himself half-white, accused an innocent large segment of the U.S. population as racist without any worry of the consequences from such false charges. And rightly so: Smollett has faced little pushback, remains in the news, and believes that no one ultimately will dare to charge him as a racist who committed a hate-crime.
The Covington Catholic fiasco illustrated the same modus operandi. Native American activist Nathan Phillips sought media exposure and careerist advantage by deliberately confronting a group of young Catholic students on the National Mall. Phillips hoped the resulting staged optics would show privileged, male, young, white Christians with red MAGA hats haranguing a wizened Native American elder and Vietnam veteran.
Phillips succeeded in his quest for universal victim status, media exposure, and the demonization of the Covington school students, despite being quickly exposed as a faker who never set foot in Vietnam and a serial racial provocateur.
Most of the media bought his ruse and have retreated to the usual fallback defense for faked racist accusations: in a racist America, the charges could in theory have been true, and therefore that they were demonstrably not true this time means little.
Enter the Anti-Enlightenment Squad
The new racism is epidemic among those in the so-called squad, the self-referenced nickname for four media-obsessed, first-term congressional representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who without their daily charges of bias largely would be unknown back-benchers laboring away in obscurity.
Take Pressley’s recent formulation of the new racism at a recent Netroots Nation conference:
If you’re not prepared to come to that table and represent that voice, don’t come, because we don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice. If you’re worried about being marginalized and stereotyped, please don’t even show up because we need you to represent that voice.
In sum, Pressley just outlined the classic anti-Enlightenment mindset: we are all permanent captives of our superficial race, religion, and sexual orientation. We must at all times think, act, and speak in such tribal fashion—and do so monolithically and collectively, in adopting the party line as set down by such elites as those like Pressley herself.
Blacks who oppose affirmative action, or Muslims who recognize Israel, or “queers” whose sexual preferences are incidental, not essential to their personas are thus declared not authentic and thus not to be welcomed by Pressley into the new racialist Democratic Party.
In practical terms, Pressley assumes that whites, reportedly about 70 percent of the population, tune her logic out. That is, they should never take her own racist advice and vote en masse according to their superficial shared skin color. If they did, the 55 percent of actual voters who are white in her otherwise minority-majority congressional district might never have elected someone who, according to her own rationale, is not part of their own tribe.
Ilhan Omar said the following in a 2018 interview with Al Jazeera when asked about purported American paranoiac fear of “Islamic terrorism”:
I would say—our country should be more fearful of white men across our country, because they are actually causing most of the deaths within this country. And so if fear was the driving force of policies to keep America safe, Americans safe inside of this country, we should be profiling, monitoring, and creating policies to fight the radicalization of white men.
Omar was not merely racially stereotyping but lying as well. African-Americans, not whites, according to the Department of Justice figures, commit a far larger percentage of the nation’s annual homicides despite comprising a percentage of the population about seven times smaller.
A Jacobin Resurgence
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of being a racist for criticizing fellow squad members. In turn, Pelosi recently had called Trump a racist for his tweeting and declared that his efforts to secure the border were racist efforts to hurt the nonwhite.
No matter. There is no exemption from being charged with racism for old, rich, white, and liberal females like Pelosi. In the new racist cosmology, the multimillionaire Pelosi can never escape her white privilege. One element of the new racism is thus Jacobinism—the idea that the circle of racists always widens until the racists devour one another with charges that everyone but themselves is insufficiently racially woke.
Smollett taught us that is was not enough for a gay man to be attacked by homophobes, or a liberal crusader to be attacked by right-wing Trumpers, or a black man to be attacked by white racists. In the ever-spiraling rules of woke racism, only a gay, left-wing, and black victim can win singular revolutionary authority—and only when invented Trump fanatics scream racial taunts and routinely patrol the liberal neighborhoods of Chicago nightly armed with bleach and nooses.
On matters of immigration, it is no longer enough to endorse the old bipartisan compromises on border security and amnesties. No longer is it sufficient to advocate making DACA the law of the land and extending amnesty to the “dreamers.” Now instead the border has become an existential question of bringing in millions of supposedly “nonwhite” immigrants—and escorting them as they illegally cross the border—providing them with amnesty, legal residency, sanctuary from immigration enforcement, and free health care, while calling anyone a “racist” who complains that such caravan immigration is not diverse, legal, measured or meritocratic.
Another trait of the new racism is the old anti-Semitism. Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and Tlaib want Congress to endorse the anti-Israeli boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement to isolate the Jewish democracy—as if Israel was an international outlaw far worse than China, North Korea, or Iran.
Omar (“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”) has likened her effort to endorse BDS to the 1930s humane boycott of Nazi Germany. Earlier she claimed, with a clumsy “two Benjamins” metaphor, that naïve Americans were deluded by Jewish money and Benjamin Netanyahu into supporting Israel against their supposed own interests.
Ocasio-Cortez believes the detention centers at the border (where far fewer illegal aliens have died annually than during the Obama administration) are analogous to Nazi concentration camps and thus by extension the Holocaust. Apparently, she believes that the 218 tragic deaths in 2018 at the border (471 died in 2012), as a result of a massive wave of illegal migrants into the United States, is analogous to the 6 million Jews who were gassed or starved to death during World War II.
In the puerile mind of honor student Ocasio-Cortez, the 15,000-20,000 Jews who died on some days in the Nazi death and concentration camp archipelago are analogous to 218 accidental deaths at the border of those who entered the United States illegally en masse. When everything is the Holocaust and everyone is a Nazi, then nothing is and no one is. It is hard to calibrate whether Ocasio-Cortez’s anti-Semitic editorializations were designed to downplay the Holocaust or libel her own country—or both.
Being a woke anti-Semite is no longer any big deal. Just ask woke novelist Alice Walker, who is a fan of unapologetic anti-Semite David Icke—or for that matter the woke New York Times that published two anti-Semitic cartoons. For the woke, no one cares about having his picture taken with Louis Farrakhan (Barack Obama included) or mouths anti-Semitic tropes like Georgia congressman Hank Johnson’s comparison of Jewish settlers to “termites.”
What will put an end to this new anti-enlightenment racism of the woke? It will cease only when the majority of Americans are brave enough to call out those projectionists who are obsessed with racism as the purveyors of hate themselves, the sad and the pathetic who believe they are innately and collectively superior on the basis of their superficial appearance or creed.
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Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004.
Photos “Rally Against Racism” by Backbone Campaign CC.2.0