This weekend we read Carol Anderson’s editorial, The Policies of White Resentment, in the New York Times Sunday Review. For us, it provided a framework for understanding the series of incendiary social policies coming from the Administration in D.C., from the ‘Muslim Ban’ in January to the President’s recent call to law enforcement officers to rough up arrestees.
Professor Anderson holds an endowed professorship at Emory University, and earlier this year she won a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism for her book, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. We found her article’s synthesis of current events helpful. (Our readers who are more knowledgeable about the politics of race may find it old hat. Please let us know if this is the case! And feel free to point us to other reading we ought to be doing.)
We’ve excerpted the article here, with a link to keep reading if you’re interested.
The Policies of White Resentment, by Carol Anderson
“White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. And there is every indication that it will keep him there, especially as he continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties.
“If there is one consistent thread through Mr. Trump’s political career, it is his overt connection to white resentment and white nationalism. Mr. Trump’s fixation on Barack Obama’s birth certificate gave him the white nationalist street cred that no other Republican candidate could match, and that credibility has sustained him in office — no amount of scandal or evidence of incompetence will undermine his followers’ belief that he, and he alone, could Make America White Again.
“The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration. No wonder that, even while his White House sinks deeper into chaos, scandal and legislative mismanagement, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among whites (and only whites) has remained unnaturally high. Washington may obsess over Obamacare repeal, Russian sanctions and the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump’s base sees something different — and, to them, inspiring.
“Like on Christmas morning, every day brings his supporters presents: travel bans against Muslims, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Hispanic communities and brutal, family-gutting deportations, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, an Election Integrity Commission stacked with notorious vote suppressors, announcements of a ban on transgender personnel in the military, approval of police brutality against “thugs,” a denial of citizenship to immigrants who serve in the armed forces and a renewed war on drugs that, if it is anything like the last one, will single out African-Americans and Latinos although they are not the primary drug users in this country. Last week, Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions put the latest package under the tree: a staffing call for a case on reverse discrimination in college admissions, likely the first step in a federal assault on affirmative action and a determination to hunt for colleges and universities that discriminate against white applicants.