White Resentment: The Grand Bargain of White Supremacy

At the base of that fear was what Smith calls the “grand bargain” of white supremacy, buttressed by paternalism and evangelicalism, whereby the southern white masses relinquished political power to the few in exchange for maintaining their social status as better than the black man.

Ever the dealmakers, these southern white elites bent their culture to their political will, trading democracy for power. When that power was threatened by the civil rights revolutions, they struck another grand bargain—this time with the Grand Old Party—the terms of which have yet to expire.

Initially, the GOP acted on the advice of Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona who, in a speech following Richard Nixon’s loss to Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy in 1960, told fellow Republican leaders, “We’re not going to get the Negro vote as a bloc in 1964 and 1968, so we ought to go hunting where the ducks are.” To do so, the GOP decided to capitalize on white racial angst, which was not in short supply in the South. However—and this is critical—that decision was but one in a series of decisions the party made not just on race, but on feminism and religion as well, in what is called here the “Long Southern Strategy.”

Once the GOP was seen as the protector of the southern sacraments of white privilege and patriarchy, many southern white voters flocked to it, turning the South solidly red in 1984 for the first time in history.

Fear and rage and resentment, the bread and butter of the Long Southern Strategy, often drive more people to the polls than optimism or likability or hope, no matter where they live.

Poor southern whites have long been conditioned to forfeit a personal battle in the service of winning an imagined war from which they do not benefit.

Source: Maxwell, Angie, Shields, Todd. The Long Southern Strategy. Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

–President Lyndon B. Johnson

Source: LBJ: ‘Convince the Lowest White Man He’s Better Than the Best Colored Man’

Race was not only created to justify a racially exploitative economic system, it was invented to lock people of color into the bottom of it. Racism in America exists to exclude people of color from opportunity and progress so that there is more profit for others deemed superior. This profit itself is the greater promise for nonracialized people-you will get more because they exist to get less. That promise is durable, and unless attacked directly, it will outlive any attempts to address class as a whole.

This promise-you will get more because they exist to get less-is woven throughout our entire society. Our politics, our education system, our infrastructure-anywhere there is a finite amount of power, influence, visibility, wealth, or opportunity. Anywhere in which someone might miss out. Anywhere there might not be enough. There the lure of that promise sustains racism.

White Supremacy is this nation’s oldest pyramid scheme. Even those who have lost everything to the scheme are still hanging in there, waiting for their turn to cash out.

Even the election of our first black president did not lessen the lure of this promise to draw people to their support of racism. If anything, the election strengthened it. His election was a clear, undeniable sign that some black people could get more, and then what about everyone else’s share? Those who had always blatantly or subconsciously depended on that promise, that they would get more because others would get less, were threatened in ways that they could not put words to. But suddenly, this didn’t feel like “their country” anymore. Suddenly, they didn’t feel like “their needs” were being met.

What keeps a poor child in Appalachia poor is not what keeps a poor child in Chicago poor-even if from a distance, the outcomes look the same. And what keeps an able-bodied black woman poor is not what keeps a disabled white man poor, even if the outcomes look the same.

Even in our class and labor movements, the promise that you will get more because others exist to get less, calls to people. It tells you to focus on the majority first. It tells you that the grievances of people of color, or disabled people, or transgender people, or women are divisive. The promise that keeps racism alive tells you that you will benefit most and others will eventually benefit… a little. It has you believing in trickle-down social justice.

Yes, it is about class-and about gender and sexuality and ability. And it’s also, almost always, about race.

Source: Oluo, Ijeoma. So You Want to Talk About Race (pp. 12-13). Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition.

Protecting whiteness was tantamount to protecting an investment. Jobs, promotions, loans—all were easier for southern whites to get, free of competition from an entire oppressed portion of the population who had been denied equal access to education, indeed to everything. So perilous was the idea of a level playing field—and increasingly so as the country entered the economic downturn of the 1970s that “Southern White Privilege” ( chapter 2 ) became the new lost cause for which many were willing to go down fighting. Any policy or government expenditure deemed as providing a leg up for African Americans was understood only as an attack on whites in this zero-sum game. Over the course of the Long Southern Strategy, the coded racial mantras shifted from whites being better suited at governing, to whites having the right to protect whites-only private spaces, to whites being victims of reverse discrimination. But equality feels like an attack when privilege is all one knows. Together, the coded language provided deniability and the urgent threat of potential peril consolidated resistance. Politically malleable, whiteness has proven to be the GOP’s blank check that always clears.

Source: Maxwell, Angie,Shields, Todd. The Long Southern Strategy. Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration.

Source: Opinion | The Policies of White Resentment

In a way, Donald Trump represents white people’s right to be wrong and still be right. He is the embodiment of the unassailability of white power and white privilege.

To abandon him is to give up on the pact that America has made with its white citizens from the beginning: The government will help to underwrite white safety and success, even at the expense of other people in this country, whether they be Native Americans, African-Americans or new immigrants.

But this idea of elevating the lowest white man over those more qualified or deserving didn’t begin with Johnson’s articulation and won’t end with Trump’s manifestation. This is woven into the fabric of the flag.

For white supremacy to be made perfect, the lowest white man must be exalted above those who are black.

No matter how much of an embarrassment and a failure Trump proves to be, his exploits must be judged a success. He must be deemed a correction to Barack Obama and a superior choice to Hillary Clinton. White supremacy demands it. Patriarchy demands it. Trump’s supporters demand it.

Source: ‘The Lowest White Man’ – The New York Times

The motivation in 2016 was equally nefarious and destructive. Trump tapped into an increasingly powerful conservative base that had been nurtured for decades on the Southern Strategy’s politics of anti-black resentment. Similar to George Wallace’s run for the presidency in 1968, Trump’s supporters bristled at the thought that public policies would provide any help to African Americans and were certain that blacks were getting much more than they deserved from the government while the “average American” was getting much less. The message was clear: They weren’t deserving and weren’t really even Americans.

Source: Anderson Ph.D., Carol. White Rage (p. 169). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Trump’s own racism allowed him to do what other candidates couldn’t: solidify the support of a majority of white Christians, not despite, but through appeals to white supremacy.

By activating the white supremacy sequence within white Christian DNA, which was primed for receptivity by the perceived external threat of racial and cultural change in the country, Trump was able to convert white evangelicals in the course of a single political campaign from so-called values voters to “nostalgia voters.” Trump’s powerful appeal to white evangelicals was not that he spoke to the culture wars around abortion or same-sex marriage, or his populist appeals to economic anxieties, but rather that he evoked powerful fears about the loss of white Christian dominance amid a rapidly changing environment.

Source: Jones, Robert P.. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (p. 15). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

See also:

Racist, Misogynist, Eugenicist, Ableist, Bigot, Traitor, Gaslighter, Liar: A Letter to My Representatives on Their Christofascist Bigotry

Senator Cornyn, Senator Cruz, Representative Williams,

Separating kids from their families. Dosing them into compliance with psychotropic drugs without parental consent or knowledge of their medical history. Putting them in cages. Losing track of them. Trafficking them. Denying due process. Joking about it. These are acts of incipient evil: callous, careless, and cruel. We have crossed a bright shining line.

American democracy is up against a relatively large, well-heeled, and highly organized Christofascist bloc whose rhetoric reveals their contempt for pluralism and democratic norms and their desire to impose theocratic authoritarianism on the rest of us. To resist, we need to know how to understand and contextualize that rhetoric. Many of us who have lived and left right-wing evangelicalism and who have been trying, in some cases for years, to expose the Christian Right as authoritarian and abusive, are ready to serve as interpreters.

Source: Authoritarian Christianity, or, what Franklin Graham Really Means when he Equates Progressivism with Godlessness – Not Your Mission Field

Trumpism and American Evangelicalism are racist and misogynist religions based on patriarchy and white supremacy. The most churched white people in the country support Nazis who chant “Jews will not replace us.” They support child abusers, domestic abusers, harassers, rapists, and the language of domestic violence while devaluing women and children. They support violent discrimination against LGBTQ and disabled people. They support rape culture, spiritual abuse, and the gaslighting of a nation. They support tearing apart families and traumatizing childrenRadicalized from birth in enclaves of fear and hate, they are the self-avowed enemies of democracy and pluralism.

Kidnapping children of color (an American tradition) is just the latest depravity forwarded by the acolytes of these pluralism-rejecting ideologies. A great many Americans, sick of this low and cruel form of Christianity, are emptying the pews in response. Immigrants and Muslims and LGBTQ aren’t the problems. White evangelicals are. You are.

You, my representatives, are morally and ethically bankrupt (near enough to round down) authoritarian bigots. You are traitors selling out our foreign policy to dictators. You are kleptocrats dismantling our country. You are bad people operating outside laws, norms, and civil society. The indictments are rolling in (23 as of this writing), though not fast enough to save our systems from generations of rebuilding.

We see you. We see your racial hatred, your indifference to suffering, and your refusal to examine systemic causes. We see your hypocrisy, your inconsistency, your incredibly selective mercy, and your thinly veiled supremacy. We see your deflection, false equivalence, fear-based socialization, projection, and defensive fetishes. We see you cherry picking hate and ignoring love. We see you and reject you. Your bigotry and base morality are cautionary tales to our kids. Do not be like these twisted and unworthy men. Do not discard ethics and tatter your souls as they have done. Do not be on their side of history.

“Will they kidnap me and put me in a cage,” ask kids across America after glimpsing the news. I cannot reassure my Jewish kids that their whiteness will protect them from a party of providentialist Christofascists following the script (stage 7 out of 9) of segregation, concentration, and genocide-ready tyranny. With the GOP and the Trump administration elevating and amplifying virulently anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers and the Republican electorate electing Nazis, reassurances might become more lies on the pile.

“Needless to say, racists don’t spend a lot of time hunting down reliable data to train their twisted models. And once their model morphs into a belief, it becomes hardwired. It generates poisonous assumptions, yet rarely tests them, settling instead for data that seems to confirm and fortify them. Consequently, racism is the most slovenly of predictive models. It is powered by haphazard data gathering and spurious correlations, reinforced by institutional inequities, and polluted by confirmation bias. In this way, oddly enough, racism operates like many of the WMDs I’ll be describing in this book.”

Source: Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

Racism makes bad decisions and bad policy. Your careers, my reps, provide ample example. Russia and white supremacists are still interfering in our systems (many of us in infosec and tech offer continuous witness), but Congress and POTUS are more concerned with baseless, performative racism than with fortifying our infrastructure and protecting our citizens against a hostile nation-state and domestic Christofascist terror. Your performances in hearings with Comey, Hayden, Watts, et al demonstrate your loyalties. Those loyalties are not to our country or Constitution. They are loyalties to party, power, patriarchy, and supremacy. A government made of such loyalties is an enemy of the people.

I think we can’t keep going with a system that allows the minority to run the country, especially a racist minority, a misogynist minority, a fundamentalist minority, a cruel…minority.

How long will the majority consent to be governed by the minority?

Source: Waiting – emptywheel

You represent the most intolerant and cruel of our deliberately poisoned body politic. Beneath respect and beyond moral rehabilitation, you merit not even the pretense of respectability from the constituents you marginalize and endanger. You are not civil. You are not respectable. You are not acceptable. You are not okay. You do not know how to behave in polite society.

You are pariah. Wherever you go, you will be seen and rejected for what you are: racist, misogynist, eugenicist, ableist, bigot, traitor, gaslighter, liar. There are social costs for intolerance. There are costs for imposing your dark, dystopian vision of “one kleptocracy under God” upon us.

I think it’s important for liberal Americans who do not come from a patriarchal religious background to hear our stories and to sit with that shock. Why? Because I remain convinced that if American civil society and the American press fail to come to grips with just how radically theocratic the Christian Right is, any kind of post-Trump soft landing scenario in which American democracy recovers a healthy degree of functionality is highly unlikely.

To put it another way, you may not come from Jesus Land, USA, but Jesus Land is coming for you. We will all be subjected to theocratic dystopia, to “one kleptocracy under God,” if we don’t stop the Christian Right. The Christian Right has been able to acquire massively disproportionate power in part because the press has allowed evangelicals’ slick, code switching PR spin doctors–such as the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell “journalists never ask me about my view that feminism is a heresy” Moore–to frame the national discussion of evangelicalism. The result is that the readers of major news outlets are presented with an unrealistically benign picture of a darkly authoritarian, cult-like branch of Protestantism. That’s one reason I’m writing this essay.

Source: Escape from Jesus Land: On Recognizing Evangelical Abuse and Finding the Strength to Reject the Faith of Our Fathers – Not Your Mission Field

The elephant in the room is that the vast majority of (mostly white) conservative Evangelicals hold to a fundamentalist, authoritarian version of Christianity that is incompatible with pluralism, but for that no less “really” Christian, as “real” Christianity comes in both reactionary and progressive versions. Combined with political power, conservative Evangelicalism threatens democracy and human rights, and to continue to treat conservative Evangelicals as if they are operating in good faith within the acceptable boundaries of American democratic norms will serve only to normalize extremism, allowing Evangelicals to further erode our democracy. And pretending that “real” religion is incapable of being abusive and anti-democratic only serves to deflect from the rot within American Christianity that we as a society need to face.

Source: Journalists Should Stop Scratching their Heads about Evangelical Trumpism, Admit White Evangelicals are Illiberal Christians – Not Your Mission Field

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