Let Us Shun Not The Struggle for A Diverse and Inclusive America in 2017 - Racism And White Nationalism Must Never Be Normalized
January 2, 2017
Video Courtesy of Mateusz
The Inauguration of a new president is an event. The struggle of justice, fairness and equality is a journey. Let Us Shun Not the Struggle.
It has been a rough time since the election of our President Elect Donald Trump. I had hoped that Hillary would have won the election but I had a sinking feeling that she would not be successful. Her loss sent me into a state of hopelessness as I watched the announcements of President elect Trump being televised.
His success surprised many people as they pondered how could a person with such limited governmental experience, such authoritarian views and whose personal behavior reflected a level of bigotry, indifference, and disrespect for his opponents, the media, and immigrants helped win.
In modern 21st century business enterprises, leaders like myself have worked hard to cultivate cultures of inclusion, respect and civility. We have seen business leaders exhibiting the attributes so vividly displayed by Mr. Trump, summarily fired for such behavior. As enterprises seek to grow their businesses, both domestically and internationally, cultural responsiveness, respect for differences and professional decorum were considered prerequisites.
Yet along comes a national candidate for the highest office in the world who challenges all the conventions and respected ways of leading. He was favored over a candidate that had a much longer track record, more experiences in diplomacy and cross cultural governmental relations. How could this be?
I like many others chanted the following “I just don’t get it!” Yet upon reflection, I began to see more clearly the cause and effect. I could understand the intent and the unfortunate impact.
To many working class white Americans, America was becoming too diverse. America was becoming too tolerant of multiculturalism and inclusion. Minority cohort groups, especially in urban centers, were rising to levels of power, influence and privilege that historically had been reserved for white Americans. Many within these minority cohort groups were having babies at significantly numbers than the European American counterparts which was making America’s younger population more diverse and brown, and its older population whiter. Some questioned: "Is diversity white genocide?"
Working class white citizens were beginning to see the writing on the wall. The dominance, privileges and power that they enjoyed for centuries appeared to becoming to an end. The tipping point was the election of President Obama and the rise of many diverse leaders, entertainers, athletes, and business leaders at a time when competition for jobs was increasing and where technology was obliterating entire professions.
As this era of change was accelerating a counter movement was also emerging. White citizens who felt the most threatened by these changes, starting at the grass roots levels, began organizing a “resistance movement” to those unheralded changes being placed upon them. They organized discussion groups and town halls, built think tanks at the state level to inform the movement, and targeted progressive leaders (in government, academia, and business) for removal. They feared that these progressive leaders were hastening the erosion of white in their efforts to build more diverse and inclusive communities, educational institutions and business enterprises. Some were very explicit in their desire to "stop it."
With most diversity advocates and progressive leaders focused on an inclusive agenda, they did not see clearly the growing threat by this small but well connected and financed movement. Increasingly new leaders with a more white nationalist agenda, began to emerge at the local and state level. What was needed was a national leader with the interest, motivation and name recognition to take the movement to the next level and to validate their fears and bigotry.
This fringe group wanted a Presidential Candidate that most, except for the far-right fringe, might view as unelectable if their bias for diversity was in plain site. However, by convincing progressives and liberal leaning citizens that the candidate was unelectable, they could quietly rally their forces to create enough momentum to win. This candidate would have to demonstrate through carefully coded language and communications, his support for their agenda which included a willingness to support the “Aryan” strategy. He would talk in metaphors, emphasize touchpoints of fear (Radical Islamic Terrorists, immigration, etc.) and appear to not have much of a clue about public policy issues (using a concept of “dummy down to the masses”, a concept like the “dummy up” concepts used to not call attention to true intellectual abilities) to create further doubt by adversaries of his ability to win. He could signal his support for their agenda by not explicitly denouncing their actions and behaviors (disavowal of Klan members, white nationalists, etc.).
The goal was to piece together a critical mass of working class whites who could create enough of a voting block to help him win. All this occurring while conservative lawmakers in many red states were at work redesigning voting districts to mitigate and minimize the impact of the growing minority vote. I believe that leaders of this movement were convinced that the combination of the two strategies might well be enough to close the gap between the larger more progressive block of voter, especially in urban centers. This could also have the effect of creating enough indifference in communities of colors so that they would turn out in lower numbers in their districts creating a potential wedge opportunity.
And so, phase one of the strategy worked. Donald Trump was elected President even though Hillary Clinton surpassed him in the popular vote by close to 3 million votes. It all happened because not enough attention was being paid to this growing block of voters who view concepts of diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism as “white genocide” or a threat the western culture and heritage. Hillary spent too much time in the "echo chambers of urban, progressive, and minorities corridors, and perhaps not enough in rural less diverse areas.
The evidence of this strategy is being validated in the early appointments to the Trump administration. Steve Bannon, his senior advisor is known for his support for white nationalists in what is being normalized as the “Alt Right” movement. Other senior leaders in his incoming cabinet have leanings which indicate support for this conservative agenda including Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, General Flynn, and others. With such right winged conservatives in place as the leaders of major US government agencies and the military, I fully expect an all-out assault on the size, philosophy, and goals for these agencies including the EPA, and for progressive, multicultural and inclusive social policies.
If one accepts the theory that this is part of a broader “Aryan” strategy, one can understand the connection to Russia and Putin. White nationalists are connected not just in the United States but within Europe and Russia. If the ultimate objective is to create a whiter society, enlisting the support of Putin makes sense. However, it is disconcerting and frightening to people of color and more progressive Americans. In an effort to reverse the progress already made, authoritarian leadership that "take no prisoners" is required. Such authoritarian leadership throws "political correctness, respectful behavior and collaborative approaches out the window."
So, as I reflect on these thoughts on the dawn of a new year, I can not sit quietly on the sidelines. I believe we are witnessing the greatest threat to American democracy that the country has faced since its founding in 1776. My family, my children and grand children are at the great risk (as are yours) as these new tactics and regressive leaders take office. They are dialing up a level of “reversive change” that we have not seen in our lifetime. If we are serious about creating a more just and inclusive society, we must fight this "zeitgeist" now.
Let’s not let 2017 be year where this reversive movement continues to speak about us negatively and disparagingly, lets demand that they speak to us correctly, and that they support inclusive public policies . And, let us not tolerant disrespectful, bigoted and racist words, behaviors or actions couched in “political incorrectness” rationalization, let us demand civil, respectful and inclusive collaboration.
Racist, bigoted and mean spirited behavior at all levels of civil society must not be normalized, it must be defeated.
Video: From Mateusz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26U_seo0a1g