White Supremacy is the principal driver of the history of the United States. We are not alone; every country in the Western Hemisphere has white supremacy at its root, from Canada south to Chile and Argentina. After all, this is why white Europeans came to this hemisphere, to take land and push the indigenous people away.
In the United States, all other history is aspirational. The settlers north and south brought in slaves from Africa to serve them and increase their wealth. After the Civil War, the slaves were freed but the former slaves were still subordinate. Although the territory out of which the United States was formed had English, French and Spanish speaking white people with European heritage, the English-speaking white people prevailed and these said that they were “in charge”. Over the late 19th and early 20th centuries, other Europeans immigrated, especially Irish, Italian and German, and it took the English at least a generation to accept them, but eventually they also joined the people “in charge”. Today Asian-Americans, Blacks and other dark-skinned people are not accepted by many whites. A number of Spanish-speaking immigrants from Latin America who look white have joined White America because they are the “winning team.”
Since the 1940s and 1950s the Supreme Court, Congress and some presidents have expanded the policies of inclusiveness for all Americans through court opinions and legislation. We have achieved more equal opportunity for minorities and women, women’s rights to choose, rights of sexual and gender preference. At the same time a group that some observers call “Movement Conservatives” has been quietly promoting the view that advances for Black people would mean reducing opportunities for white people in our economy. These conservatives, heavily funded by some corporations and wealthy individuals, have now taken over most of the Republican party.1
This party has a platform, although not yet announced. As evidenced by their activities in many states, Republicans want to reverse the earlier expansions of opportunity and bring back the contracted and constricted society that existed in the 1950s. They also want to return the study of American history to White history only. Oh, and to roll back regulation of corporations. To achieve this result, a strategy is being implemented in Congress and throughout the nation of obstruction and vote suppression intended to bring about a permanent Republican Federal government, along with similar domination of many states. Trump is one of their weapons.
Uri Avnery was an Israeli politician, peace group leader, and opinion writer. His parents took their family out of Germany after Hitler’s ascent and immigrated to Palestine. As a young man he changed his name to a Hebrew name and fought for Israeli independence. He spent the rest of his life working for peaceful relations of Israel with the Palestinians and with all the surrounding nations. He wrote a weekly online column that I read. In one of these columns he stated that he had read books trying to explain Hitler and the Nazis and they were not convincing. He thought instead that what happened was “a particular man meeting a particular nation at a particular time.”
Perhaps Trump is that man now. He is a consummate orator, spinning rhetoric that easily mixes truths with falsehoods (one associate said that he doesn’t know the difference). The White Americans I mentioned earlier are looking for a champion and will respond to Trump’s scapegoating of the unaccepted groups. The Republican Party is ready to provide the machinery for Trump to follow Mussolini and Hitler (both of whom were elected) and establish a dictatorship. Those of us who want to preserve a free society must work very hard to prevent that outcome. This is our historic moment.
1 See “Racism and the Roots of Conservative Philanthropy in the US”, Donna J. Nicol, Feb. 17, 2022, on the Al Jazeera English website http://www.aljazeera.com