The bad news, according to George Hawley, is that a growing chorus of conservatives are embracing a far-right ideological agenda that either flirts with, or openly embraces, white identity politics. The good news, Hawley tells us, is that the Republican electorate is not following their lead.
Republican voters are not “demanding the party abandon its traditional commitments in favor of a more radical right-wing ideology,” Hawley writes. “If the Republican Party, and the conservative movement more broadly, is moving to the far-right, it is not a bottom-up phenomenon.” Rather, Hawley points his finger at “New Right thinkers, activists, and aspiring politicians,” as well as “a significant percentage of Republican congressional staffers, media personalities, and young conservative activists.”
Hawley does not, however, name any prominent right-wingers who openly embrace white identitarianism. One does indeed find such people online, many hiding behind anonymous Twitter handles. But I do not know of a single conservative public intellectual or elected Republican official at any level of government anywhere in America who presents himself as a white advocate or who calls for a white ethno-state. The cordon sanitaire around white identitarianism remains as strong as ever. Who exactly within the Republican Party is meeting with Greg Johnson? How many conservatives, of any age, even know who he is?
The New Right is indeed challenging many of the stale platitudes of mainstream conservatism, but it is doing so within a broadly liberal framework. I wrote the chapter on race in Up from Conservatism: Revitalizing the Right after a Generation of Decay,
a recent edited volume on the New Right. I opened by affirming that “Equal rights under equal laws with no special treatment should be the bedrock of American justice.” I simply called on conservatives to develop the courage to uphold impartial laws, standards, and social norms, regardless of what racial disparities they may produce. If, on the whole, our fellow black citizens have a harder time complying with these standards, then the solution is surely not to abolish them. Is it now far-right to defend the rule of law and meritocratic practices?
Even the two most prominent critics of liberalism on the Right, Yoram Hazony and Patrick Deneen, are, for all intents and purposes, liberals—especially on race. Hazony has called the elimination of racial segregation “the most laudable” achievement of postwar liberalism. “Of all the sweeping generalizations that American liberals adopted in the 1960s,” he writes in his book on Conservatism, “I have the most sympathy for the earnest desire to eliminate considerations of race.” In his latest book, Deneen expresses fawning admiration for Martin Luther King Jr., calls racism a “sin,” and says Black Lives Matter caused “a wrenching and necessary self-examination of [America’s] legacy of racial inequality.”
Hawley does call out Donald Trump’s “mean-spirited remarks about Mexican immigrants and Muslims.” Whether or not the President’s tweets about Mexicans and Muslims were indeed mean-spirited is debatable. Time magazine assembled a list of instances when Trump supposedly insulted Mexico: his tweets are either true or funny, but none appear malicious. But even if calling for a border wall and temporary halting refugee admissions from seven predominantly Muslim countries is mean-spirited, it surely does not constitute evidence of far-right white identitarianism.
Democrats can consult with Louis Farrakhan and fundraise for Hamas, but Donald Trump is literally a nazi because he tried to defend America’s borders. It’s hard to think of any prominent conservative or Republican who has not been branded an extremist or a member of the far-right at this point. By contrast, I don’t remember the last time I heard a story on CNN or on NPR about the far-left and the dangers it poses to America. Opposing immigration is far-right, but supporting Black Lives Matter rioting and double mastectomies for teenage girls suffering from gender dysphoria is a matter of justice.
The claim that the Right, and in particular the Trumpier, younger, New Right, is not a white nationalist movement will surely come as a shock to readers of the New York Times, who believe that fascism almost came to America on January 6, 2020, when 2,000 unarmed protesters caused a four-hour disturbance on Capitol Hill that was unequivocally condemned by almost everyone (I also cannot resist pointing out that Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys sentenced to 22 years in jail for his role in organizing the riot, is Afro-Cuban, i.e., black and Hispanic). But anyone who has spent time with the New Right or who reads its leading publications—including The American Mind, American Greatness, The American Conservative, and American Affairs—knows that white nationalism is not part of its agenda.
If anything, one could fault the New Right for being too timid in calling out the vitriolic anti-white racism that is at the core of wokeness, as well as the widespread discrimination against whites in universities and corporate America. Indeed, what is affirmative action if not anti-white (and anti-Asian) discrimination? What are Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives if not invitations to stigmatize and malign white colleagues and classmates? As Richard Hanania has convincingly demonstrated in The Origins of Woke: Civil Rights Law, Corporate America, and the Triumph of Identity Politics, our civil rights regime in effect mandates and legitimizes discrimination against whites. In the name of anti-racism, America has erected a vast system of pro-black and anti-white racial preferences in all realms, except those where blacks do better than whites.
Too many conservatives, on both the New Right and the mainstream Right, remain afraid to call the modern civil rights regime anti-white. The logic seems to be that if you are anti-anti-white, then you will soon be pro-white, which is how we ended up with Auschwitz. There is, in truth, no necessary connection between opposing antiwhite racism and embracing white supremacy, no more than there is between opposing antiblack racism and embracing black supremacy. Martin Luther King, Jr., opposed segregation, but he also opposed Black Power and the Nation of Islam.
The only reason we all get nervous at the mere mention of defending white Americans against injustice is because the Holocaust, slavery, and to a lesser extent, colonialism, are the only real instantiations of evil the impoverished American mind can imagine. And the moral lesson of the three is the same: if hateful white people are not checked, then they will commit unspeakable atrocities against Jews, people of color, homosexuals, and other marginalized groups. The contemporary American mind does not seem to be able to compute the possibility that great injustices could be committed against white people. Hateful whites remain the perennial threat.
Well-intentioned Americans of all races should denounce the antiwhite animus of the current civil rights regime and the broader woke culture. And conservatives of all stripes should not lose sight of the fact that the great threat to republican self-government remains the mainstream identitarian woke left, not the tasteless musings of anonymous trolls mocking the absurd racial pieties of the regime. Ibram X. Kendi is far more radical than anyone on the New Right (see his tyrannical proposal for a Department of Anti-Racism). And his ideas rule the country. Let the Left worry about the “far-right” and the “rising tide of fascism in America.” We on the right should remain squarely focused on the deeply entrenched illiberalism of the mainstream Left.
David Azerrad is an Assistant Professor and Research Fellow at Hillsdale College, Washington, D.C. Campus.