The American Pursuit of “Anglo-Saxon Values”
The furthest right of the right-wing of the Republican Party is proposing the formation of an “America First Caucus.” An early draft of their proposal was leaked to the press and calls for “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions,” and a return to the architectural style that “befits the progeny of European architecture.” I’ll translate that to proposing an America that gives preference to white traditions and even makes America look a little whiter while doing so.
Some of the usual suspects are involved in this venture, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga), Louie Gohmert (R-Tx), Barry Moore (R-Ala), and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz). Since the leak, most if not all by now have disassociated themselves with the “unapproved, early rough draft” of their clearly racist programs.
“I had nothing to do with the draft published Friday, describing it was a “staff-level draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn’t read.” The scum and liars in the media are calling me a racist by taking something out of context.” Marjorie Taylor Greene
While I could spend time lambasting Marjorie Taylor Greene and others of her ilk, the truth is there’s nothing new under the sun. Several in Republican leadership have come out against the America First Caucus, I assume for saying the unspoken part out loud. But what the America First Caucus is promoting is no different than what white America has pursued since they discovered an America already inhabited by people of color as they face a demographic trend that will make them a minority around the year 2045. They are actively seeking ways to keep America white, control those who are not, and limit the voting as much as possible of those unlike themselves.
“Mass immigration threatens the long-term existential future of America as a unique country with a unique culture and a unique identity.”
The roots of police forces in America are tied to the control of enslaved people and/or immigrants, depending on what part of the country you were in. In the South, many plantations and surrounding communities had populations where whites were significantly outnumbered. They needed to protect themselves against revolts and hold onto their property which might otherwise run away to escape harsh treatment or to achieve freedom by escaping to Canada, Mexico, or Florida at times. The slave patrols were created to control enslaved people, and willing legislators in the North and South agreed they could cross state lines and bring escaped slaves or even free Black men and women back to their owners or anyone else that would pay. An example of those harsh conditions they might be escaping is the forced breeding of slaves (rape)for profit. After bearing children, women had their children taken from them and sold and were forced to conceive another.
In the North, where the enslaved population was much smaller, the threat of another non-white population required control. In those days, the Irish and Italians weren’t Anglo-Saxon and couldn’t establish a foothold. The Irish were selected in many large cities to control the rest of the immigrant population, including Blacks, free and enslaved. They were allowed a certain degree of power to do their job but weren’t allowed to overstep. Over time, as the Black and brown populations increased. The Irish and Italians gained a higher degree of whiteness to keep those of darker color down. Over the years, the racial makeup of police forces has changed, but the mission is the same. Control the minority and immigrant populations, often at the behest of the rich controlling the labor force, which sounds a lot like slavery did.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Second Amendment, which was designed to protect those “well-regulated militias,” which at the time were slave patrols. This was one of the many concessions legislators from South Carolina and other Southern states were able to secure before joining the Union to ensure no bait and switch would allow the elimination of slavery after the fact.
Voting has always been the mechanism to assert white supremacy. It was initially limited to white, land-owning men, I assert have tried to hold power ever since. Black males allegedly got the right with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. In some of those areas where Blacks outnumbered whites, Black representatives were sent to Congress, all of the Republicans for anyone keeping track. The only way Blacks were allowed to vote and assert any power was because of the federal troops still stationed in the South after the Civil War. In 1877, the Republican Party, the alleged Party of Lincoln, bargained away the maintenance of federal troops in the South to win a contested Presidential election. This effectively ended the Reconstruction period and saw most Black southerners lose the ability to vote under threat of violence or death. The Compromise of 1877 also ushered in Jim Crow, so the Republicans and Democrats were complicit in ending the hope of equality any time soon for the recently freed enslaved people.
Similar attempts using some of the same methods are either already in place or on the way in modern-day America. The voter-ID laws, in some cases, are the equivalent of poll taxes. For someone who lives in a state other than their birth state, getting a certified birth certificate to get a driver's license or state ID in a timely fashion can cost upwards of $50–60. Out of state college students have to jump through hoops to vote while registered gun owners can waltz into the polling booths. Polling locations are placed unnecessarily far from minority communities and are so few as to cause long lines. Poll watchers are encouraged, which has the effect of scaring people away. Mass incarceration not only locks minorities away in many states but their rights also are not restored. In my state of Florida, voters passed a Constitutional Amendment to restore rights to felons. Still, the Republican legislature and governor found a way to keep most of them from voting anyway.
This is where certain white people are doing backflips to keep America white as long as possible. When I talk about the actions of white people, I’m generally talking about the politicians and now the judiciary who make these inequities possible. Still, mostly white people keep returning avid racists and nationalists to the office long after their views became known. The Steve King’s, Ted Cruz’s, Marjorie Taylor Greene’s, and Lindsey Graham’s of the world know they are implementing racist policies because they have the support of their electorate. The biggest fundraisers in the GOP for the upcoming 2022 mid-terms espouse the wildest conspiracy theories and advocate the need to take away minority votes. Most of them don’t use those words, but that’s what they’re doing.
“Mail-in voting, long recognized as subject to fraud, has become normalized. We will work towards an end to mail-in voting, implementation of national voter ID and substantive investigations into mass voter fraud perpetrated during the 2020 election.”
Until the recent 2020 Presidential election, a white nationalist (talking about you, Stephen Miller) set immigration policy and wrote many of the President’s speeches. He was all for the Muslim ban, caging of brown children, and removing them from their parents (some forever). He espoused making immigration easier for Europeans and harder if not impossible for all others.
“As such, America’s legal immigration system should be curtailed to those that can contribute not only economically, but have demonstrated respect for this nation’s culture and rule of law. America’s borders must be defended, and illegal immigration must be stopped without exception.”
We’ve moved from an era of dog-whistles and hidden racism to one of blatant in-your-face xenophobia. This now passes for patriotic in some circles.
The Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd ended with three guilty verdicts. There is no reason for celebration; a conviction only likely occurred because literally, the whole world was watching, and America wasn’t ready to endure months of racial strife over one smug police officer. It was theoretically impossible to justify keeping a knee on the neck of a man not breathing with no pulse, but they tried. Chauvin still has to go through the appeal process, and even the judge in the case suggests there may be a just cause.
The imposition of Anglo-Saxon values isn’t new to anyone of color in the United States. You could start with Native Americans, end with the recent persecution of anyone looking remotely Chinese who are blamed for COVID-19, with Black and brown people sandwiched between. What is new is the lengths people are willing to go to impose their imagined superiority. Steve Bannon, who formerly has an office in the West Wing of the White House and served as Chief Advisor to the President, said. “Let them call you racist; wear it like a badge of honor.”
What’s new is that it’s no longer a mark of shame to be called a racist. People are wearing it like a badge of honor while being defended on right-wing media and doing significant fundraising to boot. It’s now okay to be racist because of a newly defined Anglo-Saxon privilege. 2045 is coming; we’ll see how this ends?