Fundamentally Transformed

(Jim Young/Reuters)


Have we reached a point of no return?

Multicultural societies — from 19th-century Austria–Hungary to contemporary Iraq, Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda — have a poor record of keeping the peace between competing tribes. They usually end up mired in nihilistic and endemic violence.

The only hope for history’s rare multiracial, multiethnic, and multireligious nations is to adopt a common culture, one that artificially suppresses the natural instinct of humans to identify first with their particular tribe. America, in the logical spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was exceptional among modern societies in slowly evolving from its original, largely European immigrant population to a 21st-century assimilated, integrated, and intermarried multiracial society, in which religious and racial affiliations were incidental, not essential, to one’s public character and identity.

But such a bold experiment was always tenuous and against the cruel grain of history, in which the hard work of centuries could be easily torn apart by the brief demagoguery of the moment. Unfortunately, President Obama, ever since he first appeared on the national political scene in 2008, has systematically adopted a rhetoric and an agenda that is predicated on dividing up the country according to tribal grievances, in hopes of recalibrating various factions into a majority grievance culture. In large part, he has succeeded politically. But in doing so he has nearly torn the country apart. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to suggest that no other recent president has offered such a level of polarizing and divisive racial bombast.

Most recently, without citing any facts about the circumstances of the police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, Barack Obama castigated the police and the citizenry on their culpability for racial disparity and prejudicial violence. “[T]hese fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal-justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.” Obama did not yet know the race of the policemen involved (as in the case of Baltimore, the Minnesota shooting involved non-white officers), the circumstances that led to the shootings, or the backgrounds of either the officers or their victims.

Shortly afterwards, twelve Dallas law-enforcement officers were shot, and five of them killed, by a black assassin who declared solidarity with Black Lives Matter and proclaimed his hatred for white law enforcement. That outbreak prompted Obama to take to the podium again to recalibrate his earlier message. This time he amplified his gun-control message, and somewhat delusionally added that the upswing in racial polarization did not imperil national unity — in much the same way that, in years past, he had announced that al-Qaeda was on the run, we were leaving behind a stable Iraq, and ISIS was a jayvee organization. Note the Obama editorial method in the case of police incidents, from Skip Gates to Louisiana and Minnesota: He typically speaks before he has the facts, and when subsequent information calls into question his talking points and theorizing, he never goes back and makes the corrections. Nor does he address facts — from Ferguson to Dallas — that do not fit his political agenda. Finally, a police shooting of an African-American suspect is never an “isolated event,” while the shooting of an officer by a black assassin is isolated and never really thematic of any larger racial pathology.

But there were plenty of markers in Obama’s own turns of phrase to indicate that racial tranquility is not where we were headed: “Typical white person” and a litany of divisive campaign sloganeering followed (“bring a gun to a knife fight” and “get in their faces,” along with the stereotyping of the white working class of Pennsylvania, who had failed to appreciate Obama’s singular brilliance in the state’s Democratic primary).

Nothing much changed when Obama entered the Oval Office (and why should it, when Obama won record majorities of minority voters in 2008 and would again in 2012?). Attorney General Eric Holder, who almost immediately dropped a likely successful voter-intimidation prosecution against the New Black Panther Party (a group to which the Dallas police assassin at one time claimed affinity), set the new tone of the Obama Justice Department by referring to African-Americans as “my people” and deriding Americans in general as “a nation of cowards.”

“Punish our enemies” characterized Obama’s approach to race and bloc voting. Each time an explosive racial confrontation appeared on the national scene, Obama — always in his accustomed academic intonations — did his best to exploit the issue. So the Skip Gates farce was leveraged into commentary about police stereotyping and profiling on a national level. The police officer in the Ferguson shooting was eventually exonerated by Obama’s own Justice Department, but not before Obama had already exploited the shooting for political advantage, as part of a larger false narrative of out-of-control racist cops who recklessly shoot black suspects at inordinate rates to the population (rather than in the context of their national incidence of contact with police).

Black Lives Matter was founded on a separatist and radical racialism. When an inept Bernie Sanders tried to suggest that “All lives matter,” he was bullied into silence by activists who rushed the podium. “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” became a Black Lives Matter marching slogan last summer in Minnesota — rhetoric amplifying the calls for “Dead Cops” in an earlier New York City march that was in turn logically reified in Dallas by the assassin who “dead copped” white policemen.

When Obama invited Black Lives Matter founders to the White House in February, he praised them by asserting that they were “much better organizers” than he had been at a comparable age, adding that he was “confident that they are going to take America to new heights.” Prior Black Lives Matter marching death chants to police should have been known to Obama at the time.

This spring Obama invited a series of rappers and activists to the White House, whose careers and rhetoric were often violent and divisive. Rapper Rick Ross — on bail pending trial on kidnapping and assault charges — had his ankle bracelet go off at a White House ceremony. Black Lives Matter and Ferguson activist Charles Wade abruptly declined his White House invitation, apparently because he had been recently arrested for pimping and human trafficking. Marquee rapper Kendrick Lamar’s Pimp a Butterfly album cover portrayed black men hoisting champagne bottles and displaying hundred-dollar bills on the White House lawn, in merriment over the corpse of a white judge with his eyes X’d out. Reality mimicked art when Lamar (whose video sets include singing from a vandalized police car) was invited to the White House — or perhaps when five fatally shot policemen on the ground in Dallas superseded Lamar’s image of a prone and eyeless dead judge. Obama, remember, has cited the police-hating Lamar (e.g., “And we hate Popo, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga”) as his favorite rapper and the dead-judge album “as best album of the year.”

Up to now, the war zones in Chicago and Philadelphia and other inner cities that routinely experience abject killing each week have been largely ignored by progressives, given the nature of black-on-black violence in cities with strict gun-control laws, liberal governments, and ample social-welfare programs. Yet it may be that these recent shootings in Dallas and various other cities, rather than signaling a new dialogue, mark a strategy of exporting gun violence to purported white purveyors of racism. If that happens, then we are back to the 1960s — but worse. Read the online racist comments posted on any major news agency’s accounts of a crime involving race to sense the polarization that has intensified since 2008.

Meanwhile, abroad, the world looks not just at the tearing apart of American society under Obama, but at that society’s collective inability to even discuss the catalysts for either Islamic terrorism of the Orlando and San Bernardino sort, or the recent racial violence. When this is collated with seven years of failed reset with Russia, the Iranian deal, the rise of ISIS, the implosion of the Middle East, and the new belligerency in China and North Korea, we may be facing a final six months of a lame-duck presidency the likes of which have never been seen in modern political history.

Full article: Fundamentally Transformed (The National Review)

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