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The History of the "Anti-White" Victim Mantra of White Supremacy

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tags: racism, culture war, White Supremacy, White Nationalism



Ibram X. Kendi is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is the author of several books, including the National Book Award–winning Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist.

When robert whitaker, 76, died in June 2017, white supremacists reflected on his legacy online. “Perhaps his most important, and most lasting, legacy is that his incessant promotion of the term ‘anti-white’ is now slowly but surely going mainstream,” someone named “Bellatrix” said on Stormfront, the prominent white-supremacist website. “A very important corner to turn indeed, as it is the rebuttal of the accusation of racist.”

Whitaker, a former economics professor and Reagan appointee to the Office of Personnel Management, had been radicalized as a young man in opposition to the civil-rights movement. He was a propagandist for more than half a century. But Whitaker’s fame among the most extreme white supremacists came toward the end of his life, when he wrote a screed called “The Mantra.”

“Everybody says there is this race problem. Everybody says this race problem will be solved when the third world pours into every white country and only into white countries,” Whitaker wrote in “The Mantra,” which he first posted on his blog and the websites of a neo-Nazi organization in 2006. “But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.”

“The Mantra” ends with what has become the new mantra in American politics: “They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white. Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.”

Over the next decade, and particularly after Barack Obama’s election, a self-identified “swarm” of online trolls posted quotes and reprinted “The Mantra” online wherever they could, and attacked anti-racists as “racist” whenever they could.

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Whitaker did not create the mantra. He reproduced it. Since the very first Civil Rights Act, white supremacists have cast anti-racist bills as racist toward white people. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 defined citizenship, granted it to African Americans, and affirmed that all citizens are equally protected by the law. But President Andrew Johnson vetoed it, arguing that “the distinction of race and color is by the bill made to operate in favor of the colored against the white race.” In an address to Congress in 1867, Johnson opposed voting rights for Black men, fearing “the dread of Negro supremacy” and the “subjection” of “white people of the South.” In his best-selling 1874 book, the journalist James S. Pike described South Carolina’s interracial legislature as denying “the exercise of the rights of white communities, because they are white.” When an anti-lynching bill came before the U.S. Senate in 1938, Senator and lifelong Klansman Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi said its passage “will open the floodgates of hell in the South.”

When a new civil-rights plank was added to the Democratic Party’s platform, southern segregationists walked out of the Democratic National Convention in 1948. They formed the States’ Rights Democratic Party, known popularly as the Dixiecrats, running Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina for U.S. president. “We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a [civil-rights] program would be utterly destructive of the social, economic and political life of the Southern people,” their platform stated.

Thomas Abernethy, the Jim Crow segregationist and U.S. representative from Mississippi, feared that the Civil Rights Act of 1957 would create “nothing short of an assemblage of powerful Federal meddlers and spies created for the purpose of tormenting, abusing, and embarrassing southern white people.” During his 24-hour-long filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Thurmond cited a newspaper article that warned of the “persecution” that white people could face under the law.

Read entire article at The Atlantic

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