The funhouse mirror of paranoia

Adam Serwer has a popular piece at The Atlantic whose title says it all: “The White Nationalists Are Winning”.  Catering to pure Trump Derangement Syndrome, he quotes Tucker Carlson telling his audience that “Latin American countries are changing election outcomes here by forcing demographic change on this country”.  Serwer argues that, “Republican audiences are now being fed white-nationalist philosophy through mainstream conservative figures with national followings.

“Unless something changes, conservative constituencies will eventually begin to demand that their representatives adopt those views as well.”

The narcissism of this blinkered analysis is simply amazing.  Set aside the fact that it was decades of slanted coverage by the media that created such a thing as “Republican audiences” in the first place.  The “white nationalism” of Carlson, so-called, is nothing of the sort.  His position is only the rejection and reverse of all-but-explicit Democratic policy: cynically pack the electorate with as many Democratic-voting types as possible, particularly minority immigrants, to ensure that the book The Emerging Democratic Majority by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira becomes a reality.  If there’s any racism in this, it was the Democrats that brought it in in the form of Judis and Teixeira’s manual of identity politics, fondly believing that racism is their political workhorse, not a Bottle Imp which, encouraged anywhere, fosters racism everywhere.  Carlson is arguing against that tactic just as Democrats argued against voter-ID laws.  And he’s arguing against demographic change– but a Know-Nothing, a genuine white-nationalist identity-politics purist, would instead be pushing for demographic change in the form of illegally expelling large numbers of minorities, such as Republican luminaries Nikki Haley, Mia Love, Bobby Jindhal and Dr. Ben Carson, who was at one point in the 2016 elections polling at 25%.  Have we seen anything within miles of that?  Only by squinting at this with deep paranoia and gallons of rationalization could any sane person answer “yes” to that.

The only true victories in our national arguments are in swaying the beliefs in other people’s private hearts.  The normalization in public life of various kinds of sexuality is a good example.  That’s not at risk today not because of Obergefell, but the very reverse: Obergefell occurred because people, Republicans included, changed their private opinions in response to shows like Will & Grace.  Which I suppose is the real basis for Serwer’s paranoia: Tucker Carlson and Jordan Peterson and so on must be some sort of right-wing analog to Will & Grace, and will nefariously seduce people.

I’ve argued before that the most fascinating thing about these times is the hidden information about everyone that they’re revealing in their responses to recent events.  Far from serving his cause, Serwer undermines it by provoking serious questions about the Democratic approach to policy in general.  Such as:

What sort of victory was it before if no one was truly convinced?

Do any truths ever require shutting down debate?


Are people really supposed to believe in your message if you so transparently and sincerely believe that they’re so stupid that they’re that easily manipulated?