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Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlottesville And The Rise Of White Identity Politics | FiveThirtyEight





"There is nothing new about white supremacist groups in the U.S., or anti-Semitism, or people who defend the symbols of the Confederacy. (The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.) From Richard Nixon’s “law and order” platform to Ronald Reagan’s invocation of the “welfare queen,” presidents (mostly Republican, at least in recent decades) have regularly appealed to white, conservative-leaning voters by playing up fears and stereotypes about African-Americans and other minority groups.



What is different about this iteration of white nationalism is how the movement is framing its ideas, and the place those ideas occupy in U.S. politics. One of the chants white nationalists repeatedly turned to as they marched in Charlottesville on Friday night and Saturday was “white lives matter” — a direct response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that emerged after the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri, police in August 2014 and the resulting protests.



That context is important to understand this moment in American politics — the events in Charlottesville and the “alt-right” generally. There are two competing narratives about race and racism at the center of today’s discussions. One perspective — most directly expressed by Black Lives Matter activists but also shared by many Democratic politicians, the media and other elite institutions — is that a “Black Lives Matter” movement is necessary because, by a lot of metrics, America has left blacks behind. The wealth of the average white family still dwarfs that of the average African-American family. The black jobless rate is about double that of the white one. Black men are disproportionately killed by police officers. Black children are more likely than white ones to attend high-poverty schools.



To those who agree with the Black Lives Matter narrative, America doesn’t need a White Lives Matter movement because it already values white lives.



The Black Lives Matter movement is also part of a broader push on the left for promoting gender equality, expanding rights for gay and transgender Americans and ensuring workplaces and universities have more “diversity,” which usually means adding to the number of black, Latino, Asian and other non-white employees, along with women of all races.



The competing narrative, one expressed mainly by conservatives, is that “Black Lives Matter” is essentially a liberal political movement like any other, and not a reflection of real, structural discrimination or inequality. Conservatives therefore can and should make a counter-argument. And if blacks (and women and Latinos and Asians) are invoking their race and identity, why can’t whites as well?"



Charlottesville And The Rise Of White Identity Politics | FiveThirtyEight

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