After El Paso: America at a crossroads

Identity politics of both left and right is tearing the nation apart.

Rakib Ehsan
Columnist

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Topics Politics USA

The horrific act of white-preservationist terrorism which struck the Texas city of El Paso last weekend has sent shockwaves through the US and much of the Western world.

Perpetrator Patrick Crusius, a resident of Dallas, gunned down Walmart shoppers in Cielo Vista Mall, killing 20 people. According to a document posted on 8chan in advance of the attack, Crusius specifically targeted Hispanic people in the name of ‘defending’ Texas from a ‘Hispanic invasion’. He saw his attack as part of a fight against the processes of ‘cultural and ethnic replacement’ in the US. This follows the growing presence of the theories of ‘white genocide’ and ‘cultural replacement’ in right-wing extremist circles.

Similarly to the manifesto produced by the Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant, Crusius’s manifesto is more ideologically complex than one might think. Finding common ground with Tarrant, Crusius is scathing of corporate globalism and the environmentally harmful effects of consumer culture. ‘Corporate America’ is, according to Crusius and Tarrant, the root of many perceived problems – including the importation of cheap foreign labour, aggressive promotion of consumerism, and environmental damage in rural communities.

That this warped ideology has claimed yet more lives warrants a strong, determined response. But so far the response to the El Paso attack has been disappointing. Somewhat predictably, much of the American left has firmly put the blame at the door of President Trump, identifying his ‘white supremacist’ and ‘fascist’ rhetoric as a driving factor behind this act of domestic terrorism.

Now, Trump’s initial reaction to El Paso was underwhelming, to say the least. He labelled this racist attack merely an ‘act of cowardice’. Trump has also taken the opportunity to emphasise, dubiously, the role of mental-health issues and videogames in mass shootings.

The reality of the matter is that America is being eaten alive from the inside by the deeply corrosive politics of grievance and victimhood. And neither Trump nor his critics seem capable of grappling with it. In fact, they are contributing to it.

Trump is anything but a unifying patriot. He plays on a sense of white victimhood. Meanwhile, he denigrates entire areas and communities. A patriotic US president would not label one of his own American cities as a ‘disgusting, rat- and rodent-infested mess’, as Trump did when referring to Baltimore recently. Nor would he be selective in his readiness to call out clear instances of domestic terrorism.

But the American left, with its holier-than-thou attitude and eagerness to play the blame game, is also in serious need of introspection.

Trump’s political ascendancy was partly a backlash to the growing influence of a regressive political left that is utterly obsessed with identity politics. Much like the British left and its multicultural obsession with ‘difference’ over ‘cohesion’, all the American left offers is the politics of grievance. It tends to identify America as the root of all ills in the world.

The American left needs to understand that its victimhood politics is not holding Trump to account, nor is it helping to foster social cohesion. On the contrary, it is counterproductively boosting Trump’s appeal and unhelpfully intensifying social tensions.

These social-justice warriors are ultimately focused on whipping up feelings of injustice and resentment through their favourite buzzphrase of ‘white privilege’. On the flipside, the identitarian right is far too occupied with chasing electoral gains by capitalising on insecurities within economically and culturally ‘left behind’ white communities.

The divisive identitarian politics of the left and right is pulling apart the social fabric of a great nation.

What the US needs is courageous political leadership – intent on cultivating a positive, uplifting, optimistic, inclusive civic patriotism based on shared values and providing a sense of common purpose. This civic patriotism should be family-oriented and community-spirited, emphasising the value of hard work and promoting equality of opportunity. It would acknowledge the importance of human relations and encourage social responsibility, to carve out a society that is bound by the ties of mutual obligation and a fundamental respect for the rule of law.

And most crucially, such a model of civic patriotism must rise above the divisiveness of group identity politics. The El Paso massacre reminds us of how deadly such a politics can be.

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a spiked columnist and a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. Follow him on twitter: @rakibehsan

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

Jim Lawrie

7th August 2019 at 6:32 pm

Wasn’t multi-kult supposed to be the solution to all the lament of your second last paragraph?

Hana Jinks

7th August 2019 at 5:43 pm

Mr Ehsan.

This is an extremely racist, ill-informed, platitudinous and irresponsible story.

White people have been well-conditioned by the left to be anything but racist, and accusations of it are as offensive as they are unjust. We’ve been welcoming people from everywhere for decades. How racist is that? But it’s gotten way past the stage where it’s become a social experiment gone wrong.

It’s one thing to be welcoming Bangladeshi’s or Vietnamese fleeing conflict, but you’re missing the truth of this matter if you think that white people aren’t justified in wanting to preserve their nations. Is it racist of the Japanese to reject mass-immigration in favour of doing this? How about the Hungarian’s? Are the Italian’s even white?

Our Deepstate-controlled leftist governments have been imposing the burden of mass-immigration on us against our will for far too long. Why are white, privileged western taxpayers being asked to pay for the cheap labour that keep wages down in our societies? You can’t see the direct correlation between this and the advent of mass-migration? Perhaps you should try removing your ideological-blinkers and then also acknowledge the obscene corporate-wealth grab that this has facilitated.

Does this sound warped so far? Trump was elected on a mandate to build the wall. How is that any different to brexit? Is brexit racist? And yet the senate-leftists keep decrying it as such and blocking him. Democracy in action.

The people there are tired of not being listened to by their so-called representatives. They are tired of being blamed for things, when it was their generosity that has lead to leftist-generated social problems. They’re tired of having undocumented criminals driving around drunk and killing their daughters. Tired of enduring an ever-creakier infrastructure that is unable to be updated due to the social costs of having to welcome ….economic migrants.

You lefties love neologisms, and white-preservationist terrorism is one worthy of Mandy Mohel. And you’ve said loads of other weird things in the story such as the Baltimore bit. I’d even accuse you of auditioning for Hair with all that hippy-nonsense, except that l know you don’t have any. We’ve had enough of diversity-communism and all of the various perversions that that has meant we are forced to endure. And we’ve had enough of leftist-liars and purveyors of fake-news horseshit.

Hana Jinks

7th August 2019 at 5:44 pm

(Very interesting that this post goes straight through.)

Hana Jinks

8th August 2019 at 5:06 am

This is the ninth time, and if it doesn’t get modded, then it’s directed at Ameliorate Cant.

Hana Jinks

8th August 2019 at 3:11 pm

Nope, the comment got modded for the ninth time.

Marx was only a man. You mods shouldn’t be protecting him as if I’m blaspheming against him….err, unless you think l am, ofc.

Hana Jinks

8th August 2019 at 9:16 pm

The Australian Brainwashing Corporation is an extremist and far-left agitator for social disruption, and their latest ruse is to use Aboriginals to try and make whites look bad, when all it does is harm the reputation of Aboriginals in Australia.

https://youtu.be/-7dShUIlbu8

John Hall

7th August 2019 at 11:46 am

Sorry Sean but Trump is not wrong for pointing out Baltimore’s sorry state.

John Hall

7th August 2019 at 11:47 am

Ooops…make that Sorry Dr Ehsan.

Amelia Cantor

7th August 2019 at 10:22 am

And most crucially, such a model of civic patriotism must rise above the divisiveness of group identity politics. The El Paso massacre reminds us of how deadly such a politics can be.

No, it reminds us — for the countless-th time — of how deadly cisgender white male toxicity is.

“Identity politics”, as this coconut sneeringly calls it, is a RESPONSE to racism, hate and discrimination. It would not be necessary if cisgender white males were not hegemonizing politics, culture and the economy. Blaming “identity politics” for cisgender white male toxicity is like blaming antibiotics for bacterial infection.

As for “civic patriotism”: how can communities of colour be patriotic about a state that has been imprisoning, impoverishing, exploiting and enslaving them for centuries?

John Hall

7th August 2019 at 11:45 am

Identity Politics is NOT a response to racism. It’s all keeping the various ‘races’ in their respective ‘places’ in the pecking order. Which leads to infighting to decide where exactly each places…

William Brown

7th August 2019 at 1:07 pm

“….how can communities of colour be patriotic about a state that has been imprisoning, impoverishing, exploiting and enslaving them for centuries?”

When was the last time you went to Texas, El Paso even?

I don’t know what white hell-hole you perceive it to be, but it’s moved on from the Hollywood stereotype upon which you are clearly basing it.

Gareth Hart

7th August 2019 at 9:24 am

It’s not just divisive identity politics that needs to be tackled, there is a lot more to it. And sadly, we’re going to need to focus on risk factors as to what curves people to extremism and dogma on either side of the political spectrum, to be potentially taken in by snake oil salesmen plying their identitarianism or gangs in the case of knife crime. Or for the majority of people in this situation, social isolation or just as tragically, suicude. A loss of hope and meaning in life. The inability of a male to attract a partner leading to a family. A history of child neglect, parents divorcing, fatherless home or abuse as a child. Bullying at school. Social anxiety, autism or other unresolved mental health issues.

We need to act fast before the politicians and activists demand brutal action against the civil liberties of nerds, geeks, the socially awkward, anyone perceived to be a misogynist or incel, MRAs, gamers and bachelors as I have already seen on social networks from the left and right.

What I do know will not work is censorship, prohibition of violent video games and further ostracisation.

James Chilton

7th August 2019 at 10:09 am

Is identity politics tearing America apart, or are there unique cultural factors at work that give rise to the “loss of hope and meaning in life”, and which, to be understood, require philosophical analysis.

Jerry Owen

7th August 2019 at 8:36 am

Lame article . Trump does not play on white victimhood. Further his condemnation of Baltimore as a rat invested mess is absolutely correct. Baltimore is the sixth most rat infested place in America. Many local ( black ) citizens agree with Trump and many are desperate to leave.
Democrat politicians who have visited in the past also have condemned Baltimore and upon the smell of rats and rotting flesh actually said parts should be pulled down.

H McLean

7th August 2019 at 1:09 am

Criticism of the role corporations and consumerism play in immigration policy and how decades of pandering governments have allowed cultural decay to become an issue is not ‘warped ideology’, it is fair and deserved and at least worthy of discussion. Where Crusius and Tarrant went wrong is allowing their objections to turn them into murderous killers. THAT is the wrong part.

I understand that Spiked is in the unenviable position of trying to offer cogent analysis of politics without drifting too far from the mainstream lest they are denounced and destroyed by the reactionary and vindictive activists currently controlling the mainstream media, but If you’re going to hedge your bets at least try not to be too obvious.

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