If Christopher Caldwell’s new book is any indicator, the movement is only headed deeper into gloom, resentment and white identity politics.
Caldwell warrants attention. He is one of the right’s most gifted and astute journalists, noted especially for his thoughtful writings on Europe. “Western Europe became a multiethnic society in a fit of absence of mind,” he wrote in his 2009 book on Islam and immigration in Europe, a provocative and pessimistic take that won critical plaudits. His new book, “The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties,” is even more provocative and pessimistic.
It’s amazing at this late date that discussions of Caldwell’s latest brain-dead racist horseshit has to be preceded by some protesting-way-too-much about he is one of America’s Most Thoughtful Conservative Journalists who Deserves A Hearing. If you have to keep saying it, he’s not.
Rauch’s credulousness doesn’t end there:
If you think Caldwell sounds like Bannon, the self-appointed tribune of Trumpian working-class populism, you’re right. But the conservative critique of Davos Man has a lot to say that deserves a hearing. Conservative intellectuals like Oren Cass and David Frumand Yuval Levin, along with Republican politicians like Senators Josh Hawley and Mike Lee and Ben Sasse, are rethinking Reagan-Thatcherism from beleaguered workers’ and communities’ point of view. And not a moment too soon. If Caldwell’s book ended there, it would honorably augment that conversation.
LOL you have gotta be kidding. Hawley, Lee and Sasse all have track records at this point, and all are enthusiastic supporters of Trump’s upper-class tax cuts fully committed to aggressively distributing wealth upward and gutting America’s already threadbare welfare state while making it even harder for labor to organize. That each one of these guys has a one-note shtick on top of this total commitment to Ryanism and Trumpism (arguing that media companies that are critical of Donald Trump should be broken up, a mild child tax credit, Pleas For Civility While Being Donald Trump’s Shoeshine Boy) doesn’t change that. Have you seen how they’re living? How can you delude yourself?
Anyway, what is it that this Highly Thoughtful Journalist is arguing?
In Caldwell’s telling, the Civil Rights Act, which banned many forms of discrimination, was a swindle. Billed as a one-time correction that would end segregation and consign race consciousness to the past, it actually started an endless and escalating campaign of race-conscious social engineering. Imperialistically, civil rights expanded to include “people of color” and immigrants and gays and, in short, anyone who was not native-born, white and straight — all in service of “the task that civil rights laws were meant to carry out — the top-down management of various ethnic, regional and social groups.”
With civil rights as their bulldozer, in Caldwell’s view, progressive movements ran amok. They “could now, through the authority of civil rights law, override every barrier that democracy might seek to erect against them”; the law and rhetoric of civil rights “gave them an iron grip on the levers of state power.” And so, today, affirmative action discriminates against whites and then lies about it; public and private bureaucracies trample freedom of association; political correctness stigmatizes dissent and censors language and even thought; “every single state must now honor” Martin Luther King Jr., “and affirm its delight in doing so.”
There is quite literally no distance between what Caldwell is arguing and what any southern governor looking to out-racism the competition or head of a Citizen’s Council would say in 1961. To treat these ideas as the product of a serious mind worthy of any kind of serious hearing is bizarre.
Like, what is this shit?
The civil rights revolution, to Caldwell, is nothing less than constitutional in scope — or, more precisely, anti-constitutional, because it overturns “the de jure constitution of 1788, with all the traditional forms of jurisprudential legitimacy and centuries of American culture behind it,” replacing it with a “new, minoritarian constitution” that pushes race-consciousness into every cranny of society. White men, the losers in the new order, responded by adopting their own identitarian, victim-group mind-set. “They fell asleep thinking of themselves as the people who had built this country and woke up to find themselves occupying the bottom rung of an official hierarchy of races.”
1)Someone should really tell Caldwell about the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, 2)imagine arguing that race-consciousness in America started in 1964, and that white identity politics was unknown before then. Serious and Thoughtful!
What’s sad is that Rauch seems to have no idea how many Respectable Republicans have more quietly made the same turn:
Perhaps most depressingly, Caldwell’s account, even if one accepts its cramped view of the Constitution and its one-eyed moral bookkeeping, leads nowhere. It proffers no constructive alternative, no plausible policy or path. The author knows perfectly well that there will be no “repeal of the civil rights laws.”
How could the Times possibly think that a book arguing that it’s regrettable that Jim Crow can’t be restored deserves a review taking the argument seriously? The answer will surely depress you.