From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject The Violent Defense of White Male Supremacy
Date September 14, 2020 3:45 AM
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[Trump and his supporters are defending an America where white men
can rule and brutalize without consequence.] [[link removed]]

THE VIOLENT DEFENSE OF WHITE MALE SUPREMACY  
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Ibram X. Kendi
September 9, 2020
The Atlantic
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_ Trump and his supporters are defending an America where white men
can rule and brutalize without consequence. _

, Mark Peterson / Redux

 

What americans did and defended this summer will be inscribed into
history forever. The summer began before the summer officially began.
The summer ended before the summer officially ended.

The summer began on May 25, when the police officer Derek Chauvin
knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, suffocating his pleas for life. Largely
peaceful demonstrations followed, and Trump tweeted
[[link removed]]:
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I
won’t let that happen.” He added
[[link removed]],
“When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The summer ended on August 25, when Kyle Rittenhouse borrowed
[[link removed].] an
AR-15-style assault rifle from a friend and allegedly fatally shot
[[link removed]] Joseph
Rosenbaum and Anthony M. Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz. These
three people had been demonstrating in Kenosha, Wisconsin, against the
police shooting of Jacob Blake two days earlier. Trump suggested that
Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. “He was trying to get away from
them,” Trump said
[[link removed]].
“And he fell and then they very violently attacked him … He
probably would have been killed” if he didn’t defend himself with
lethal force.

The violence of Chauvin and Rittenhouse bookended the summer of
Trumpism. The three long, hot months from May 25 to August 25
compressed 413 years of American history into a cellphone video in
which anyone could easily see the history for what it has always been:
the violent “self-defense” of white male supremacy. Colonialism,
capitalism, slavery and slave trading, Indian removal, manifest
destiny, colonization, the Ku Klux Klan, Chinese exclusion,
disenfranchisement, Jim Crow, eugenics, massive resistance, “law and
order,” Islamophobia, family separation—all were done in the name
of defending life or civilization or freedom.

Adam Serwer: The cruelty is the point
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Trumpism is the latest—_or last_—chapter in the story of this
America. Like its antecedents, Trumpism is the violent defense of
white male supremacy. Adherents of Trumpism think they are facing a
choice between white male supremacy and “anarchy.”
[[link removed](from%3Arealdonaldtrump)&src=typed_query] And
right now, Trump’s federal agents, Trump-supporting paramilitary
domestic terrorists, and Trump-supporting police officers from Kenosha
to Austin believe they are fighting against anarchy. Which is to say,
they are fighting to maintain white male supremacy. Which is to say,
they are defending law and order. Defending their America—where
white men can rule and brutalize without consequence.

Trump’s supporters have been defending their America against this
summer of anti-racism. From May 25 to August 25, there were at least
[[link removed]] 7,750
anti-racist demonstrations in 2,400 locations across all 50 states and
the District of Columbia. By Independence Day, when as many as 26
million people had participated in the demonstrations, the anti-racist
movement had already been recognized as the largest movement
[[link removed]] of
any kind in American history. The American people marched and rallied
for Breonna Taylor, for Ahmaud Arbery, for all the Black and brown and
Indigenous people disproportionately dying
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all the people suffering under the weight of racist power and policy.
About 93 percent of these demonstrations remained peaceful,
according to an analysis by
[[link removed]] the
nonprofit Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. Only 7
percent of the demonstrations turned violent through clashes with
counterprotesters or police—too often sparked
[[link removed]] by
officers—or through property damage on “specific blocks,” the
report stated.

But these renegade women, men of color, and white men defying the law
and order of inequality and injustice look like “anarchists” to
Trump. Since June 3, the Trump campaign has run more than 2,000 ads
fearmongering against what it calls
[[link removed]] “Dangerous
MOBS of far-left groups,” according to Media Matters for America
[[link removed]].

All those officers and militiamen protecting the law and order of
inequality and injustice are “patriots” to Trump. They are at war.
In Trump’s alternative reality, the grand battle is at hand between
anarchists who want to destroy America and patriots who want to defend
America.

David Frum: Trump is the looter
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“Our country wasn’t built by cancel culture, speech codes, and
soul-crushing conformity,” Trump proclaimed in his address
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the Republican National Convention on August 27. “We are not a
nation of timid spirits. We are a nation of fierce, proud and
independent American patriots … Whenever our way of life was
threatened, our heroes answered the call.”

Acall to arms went out
[[link removed]] on
the since-deleted Facebook page “Kenosha Guard” for the evening of
August 25: “Any patriots
[[link removed]] willing
to take up arms and defend [our] City tonight from the evil thugs?”

Kyle Rittenhouse lived 20 miles away from Kenosha in Antioch,
Illinois, where he was arrested and charged with murder the next day.
During his visit to Kenosha on September 1, Trump did not condemn
Rittenhouse. But he did condemn anti-racist demonstrators. “These
are not acts of peaceful protest but, really, domestic terror,” he
said
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substantiating Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense, that he was
defending “law and order.” By September 1, a Christian
crowdfunding site had already raised
[[link removed]] nearly
$327,000 for Rittenhouse’s legal defense team.

“This was classic self-defense and we are going to prove it,”
Rittenhouse’s attorney, John Pierce, said in a statement
[[link removed]].
The Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked his viewers
[[link removed]],
“How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had
to maintain order when no one else would?” Alan Endries, a Milwaukee
resident and Trump supporter, said about
[[link removed]] Rittenhouse:
“He’s a hero. He stuck up for the population, for property owners.
He didn’t come up here just to shoot people. He came up here to
defend himself.” The self-proclaimed militia that took to the
streets of Kenosha _did_ act in self-defense: the violent defense of
white male supremacy.

Graeme Wood: Kyle Rittenhouse, Kenosha, and the sheepdog mentality
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White male supremacy has granted the president the power to
[[link removed]] accost
women and “grab ’em by the pussy”; the power to “stand in the
middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” without losing voters;
the power to call the first female major-party nominee for president
“such a nasty woman” on live television
[[link removed]] and
still win more white women’s votes
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she did; the power to say the first Black president was not born in
the United States and still have Black men say at his convention that
he is “not racist.” White male supremacy has allowed the president
to have a foreign power intercede in a presidential election on his
behalf, to call
[[link removed]] neo-Nazis
“very fine people,” to urge his supporters to vote twice
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to build a monument of lies
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to obstruct justice while freeing friends and punishing foes, to
describe Americans who died at war as “suckers” and “losers,”
and to look away as hundreds of thousands of American COVID-19
victims’ bodies pile up at cemeteries—and not face any
consequences.

And Trump does not want his white male supporters facing any
consequences either. Like him, they are always innocent. They are
always the victims. Even violent strongmen like Vladimir Putin get a
pass.

So do heavily armed groups of white male supremacists in the United
States. According to a _Politico_ report
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the first draft of a recent Department of Homeland Security “State
of the Homeland Threat Assessment 2020” named “White supremacist
extremists” as “the most persistent and lethal [terrorist]
threat” to the American people. But Trump refuses to acknowledge,
let alone protect Americans from, the greatest domestic terrorist
threat of our time. Instead he incites carnage, and the victims
include people of color demonstrating their humanity, and white people
demonstrating against racism, like Heather Heyer.

White male supremacy has long presented itself as acting in defense of
innocent white womanhood. The Trump campaign is drawing on its tropes
in an effort to capture enough white suburban women voters to win
reelection. “You Won’t Be Safe in Joe Biden’s America,”
claimed a Trump campaign video
[[link removed]] released on July 15.
The voice-over on the ad ends
[[link removed]]: “Who will be there to
answer the call when your children aren’t safe?” On August
12, Trump tweeted
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“The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me. They want
safety.”

But Trump’s insistence that he is protecting innocent white women
and children from the “anarchists” is veiling the ultimate myth of
American innocence: the notion that white men are the real victims.
Were the red hats who participated
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August 30 in the “pro-Trump procession” through Portland, Oregon,
and who shot paintballs and pepper-sprayed anti-racist demonstrators
innocents? Was Detective Brett Hankison, dismissed by the Louisville
Police Department for “wantonly and blindly” firing 10 rounds into
the apartment of Breonna Taylor on March 13, an innocent? Was former
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of contempt of court for
refusing to comply with court orders to stop detaining migrants not
otherwise accused of a crime, and then later pardoned
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Trump, an innocent? Is Trump, who repeatedly called the impeachment
investigation and trial a “witch hunt,” an innocent? Was former
White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned in February 2018
after allegations of domestic abuse, an innocent? “He says he’s
innocent,” Trump said at the time
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“and I think you have to remember that.”

Ibram X. Kendi: We’re still living and dying in the slaveholder’s
republi
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In June, when two police officers in Buffalo, New York, shoved an
elderly white male protester to the ground and caused a brain injury,
the president leaped to attack the protester. He “could be an ANTIFA
provocateur,” Trump tweeted five days later
[[link removed]]. “I
watched, he fell harder than was pushed.” The officers, who maintain
their innocence, were later charged with assault. And when Brett
Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault at his confirmation hearing
but insisted on his innocence, Trump’s sympathies and apologies were
not with his accusers. Instead, at Kavanaugh’s swearing-in ceremony,
Trump apologized
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him “on behalf of our nation … for the terrible pain and suffering
you have been forced to endure.” Kavanaugh was just a boy being a
boy
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like when Americans wrap white mass shooters in innocence by presuming
they are mentally disturbed.

The presumption of innocence is largely reserved for wealthy cisgender
heterosexual white men like Trump, and it remains until disproven
beyond a shadow of a doubt. The presumption of guilt is for all
practical purposes attached to femininity, to Blackness, to queerness,
to Indigenousness, to poverty. To be a poor queer woman of color is to
embody guilt. The closer one is to whiteness and masculinity and
wealth, the closer one is to innocence. But for people like me, people
like Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland, for all the Latino immigrants
facing deportation, for all the victims of homophobic hate crimes
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for all the starving people being evicted, for all the missing and
murdered Native women
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for all the murdered Black trans women
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there are always doubts. There are always doubts.

H_ow does trump seem to get away with everything with his own
supporters_? Because he embodies white-supremacist masculinity for
them. He is innocent. They are innocent. He is defending their
innocence.

Whenever white male supremacy shoots, assaults, violates, devastates,
exploits—no matter what, there is the projection of innocence. Gun
residue on his hands. _Innocent_. Blood on his hands. _Innocent_.
Stolen life savings in his hands. _Innocent_. Living on stolen
land. _Innocent_. And as the world saw at the Republican National
Convention, too many white women and people of color have been turned
into defenders of white male supremacy, wielding their identities to
profess expertise on Trump’s “not racist” and “not sexist”
innocence.

Read: Trump is building a dystopia in real time
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This is about Trump, but it is not only about Trump. White male
supremacy is a governing force as old as America, as new as Trumpism.
And it is wholly threatened by anti-racism, by feminism.

Those who embrace Trumpism demand, like police officers, qualified
immunity for their racism and sexism. When they hear “Me too,”
when they hear “Impeach him,” when they hear “Black lives
matter,” when they hear “No justice, no peace”—they hear the
sounds of violent attacks on _their_ supremacy, they
envision _their_ property burning, they see _their_ America under
attack. In their minds, slavery did not end
[[link removed]].

And so, they violently defended white male supremacy all summer
long—just as they have all America long.

_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
[[link removed]]. 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
[[link removed]] and How
to Be an Antiracist
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