American Exceptionalism and Identity Politics

Jack Kerwick, American Thinker, July 17, 2011

Dean Malik has recently written a piece for American Thinker in which he contrasts what he calls “American exceptionalism” (AE, from this point onward) with “identity politics.” The former is good, he maintains, while the latter is bad.

This essay is problematic for a variety of reasons–questionable presuppositions and unfair distortions continually rear their ugly heads. First, I will focus on Malik’s comments concerning AE. Next, I will turn to his account of identity politics, with particularly close attention paid to his remarks in connection to what he refers to as “white supremacy.”

American Exceptionalism (AE)

Interestingly, Malik fails to explicitly define the notion for which his essay is an apology. Fortunately, this in and of itself doesn’t pose much of an obstacle to engaging his argument, for what he does say coincides closely enough with prevailing understandings of AE. The idea that Malik appears to champion is the doctrine that America is the only land in all of human history to have been founded upon the principle that such contingencies as race, ethnicity, and religion–considerations that define the character of every other society the world over–are irrelevant to membership in that association that we know as the United States.

{snip}

There is indeed much about America for which to be thankful. My admiration for its distinction as a nation is second to none. But surely no one believes that what fundamentally distinguishes our country from every other, what renders it “exceptional,” is that we eschew racially, ethnically, and religiously-oriented intolerance while other nations do not.

America’s founders were overwhelmingly of a single race, a single ethnicity, and a single religion. They were white, English, and Protestant. They suffered no delusions regarding their identity, and never could have dreamt of any reason why they should be in the least bit apologetic for it. The country of which they were pioneers (not “immigrants”) was forged through the very same historical accidents–bloodshed, violence, slavery–that characterized the origins of every other human society, it is true, but because these phenomena assumed an inter-racial character in America, our founders were that much more self-conscious of their distinguishing features than they otherwise would have been had their conflicts and achievements occurred within a racially, ethnically, and religiously homogenous context.

Neither is there a shred of evidence that our founders saw themselves as creating a nation within which the members of every conceivable racial, ethnic, and religious group could and would co-exist as equal citizens. Being Christian, it is doubtless correct that they attributed equal worth or equality before God to all persons. But, contrary to the conventional, politically correct, mushy-minded wisdom of our generation, it is anything but a small step from this belief to the conclusion that there is a universal entitlement to American citizenship.

{snip}

Identity Politics

{snip}

Malik’s analysis of identity politics warrants some remarks.

First of all, that Americans have always organized for various purposes along racial, ethnic, and religious lines may not in itself justify this practice; it does, however, put the lie to the notion that it is somehow “un-American.”

Secondly, no one has so much as tried to establish that there is anything in the least bit morally objectionable about Americans (or anyone) assembling for reasons of race, ethnicity, and/or religion.

Thirdly, that people feel a closer affinity for their racial, ethnic, and religious brethren no more shows their proclivity for indulging “tribal loyalties and hatreds” and “the cruelties of religious intolerance” than does our partiality toward our own families establish our hatred and intolerance of other families. Presumably, not unlike virtually everyone else, Malik thinks it is a fine and good thing that we tend to love our own spouses and children more than we love the spouses and children of others. And we know that he holds patriotism–partiality toward one’s country–to be a virtue. However, we are left to ask: if the commitments to one’s co-religionists, co-ethnics, and co-racialists are repellent because of the tribalism that they supposedly embody, why aren’t commitments to one’s family and one’s nation not similarly repellant? Why or how are they not also species of tribalism?

Fourthly, Malik refers to the likes of Sam Francis and Jared Taylor as “white supremacists.” “White supremacy,” he contends, is the product, the effect, of minority identity politics. Interestingly, I think Malik’s observation is astute as far as it goes; the problem is that it only goes so far.

Francis and Taylor are both white, yes, but neither are “supremacists.” Malik is arguing in bad faith here. It is true that Francis and Taylor, being particularly interested as they are in the genetic foundations of human behavior, focus on IQ differences between racial groups. Yet there are a couple things of which to take note here.

The data on which Francis and Taylor center their attention is exactly the same data that every student of IQ accepts–statistics that no one from Charles Murray (a Jew) to Dinesh D’Souza (an Indian) to Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams (both black) denies. If there is anything that can be said to distinguish Francis and Taylor from their peers, it is the dominant role which they assign to biology in their analyses of IQ. They may very well be incorrect; I for one take exception to their conclusions. Yet a belief in the error of another’s ways is in no ways incompatible with a respect for his intellectual seriousness. For Malik, sadly, the two evidently are mutually exclusive.

Moreover, if Malik really knew anything at all about Taylor and Francis, he would know that even in the terms of their own reading of IQ and race, Taylor and Francis–like most “white nationalists”–think that on average Asians, northern Asians specifically, are intellectually superior to whites. The Japanese, for example, consistently register a higher average IQ than whites. So, if Malik remains determined to label Taylor and Francis “supremacists,” he should make sure to refer to them as proponents of Asian supremacy.

Fifth and finally, as Malik himself remarks, what he terms “white supremacy” is a reaction to minority identity politics. That blacks, Hispanics, and other non-white groups should organize along racial lines for the sake of advancing their collective interests is enough to provoke some measure of racial consciousness within whites. But when the realization of the ends that racial minorities pursue demands that the government surrender its impartiality with respect to all citizens and substitute for laws that equally bind all of the associates of the legal association that we know as the United States policies designed to benefit non-whites over whites, it is understandable that these same whites should seek to organize similarly.

{snip}

America is supposed to be “a nation of laws,” not of men. What this means is that when the government favors the members of one racial group over those of another, America’s character is corrupted. Thus, when identity politics is nothing more or less than the enterprise of appropriating government for the sake of racial favoritism, it is an enterprise gone to the bad. When, however, as in the case of “the white nationalists” that compose the object of Malik’s disdain, as well as, say, black civil rights activists in 1950’s and 1960’s, it is a matter of insuring that government refrain from privileging some racial groups at the expense of others, it is entirely appropriate.

In these latter cases, though, it isn’t really identity politics at all of which we are speaking. Rather, it is a movement oriented toward preserving the rule of law.

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  • Anonymous

    There was a time, not too many generations ago, when white supremacy was so unquestioned, that the term itself had no meaning. No one, white or non-white could imagine a world where extra-national relationships were not thoroughly dominated by whites, nor would anything else be wanted, or tolerated. The usual measure by which a country was first world, civilized, “normal” was the degree to which White Christian values were codified into law STRICTLY enforced.

    I can’t emphasize enough that was not ethno-centrism. It was objective morality. The more it comes into fashion that such a thing is just one of many ways of looking at the world, ESPECIALLY an undesirable one, the crazier the world becomes and the more evil becomes a way of life.

    It’s actually quite simple. Most whites are good. While most non-whites are evil unless forced by whites to be good. A non-white who commits a rape or murder, should hang at dawn and opinions to the contrary should not be tolerated. That is what is normal and good.

    Today, we have something far from that. Non-whites basically rampage across the world, more and more as groups. Such things are rarely punished. And, if they are, it’s only after millions of dollars is spent, navel gazing and pontificating over what is obvious to good and moral people (but not obvious because too many people are allowed to not be good nor moral).

    Many of today’s whites want to withdraw from the world and separate from non-whites. There are two sources of that sentiment….acceptance of the lie that white supremacy is optional, let alone good, and blind hatred of non-whites to the point that the hope is, separated from whites, almost all of them will starve to death.

    Neither motivation is realistic. One has only to look at recorded history (only recorded because white people record history in any systematic, honest and objective manner) to see what white people are for. We are the civilization builders. The keepers of the law. Everything that makes a man other than an animal stuck in the stone age, originates and is maintained by us. That is what so called “white supremacy” is. Without it, we have no reason to exist and humanity is just another member of the animal kingdom.

    If whites give up “white supremacy”, we might as well tear off our clothes and go swing through the trees with the other monkeys.

  • sbuffalonative

    There are people, blacks, nonwhites, and their apologists, who seem to believe that America is (or was) successful because of it’s mere physical space.

    In this sense, anyone who crossed the border would be magically transformed by being in the physical space of the US. This same idea applies to white cities and neighborhoods in which blacks and nonwhites demand to live. These are spaces I euphemistically refer to as ‘nodes of prosperity’. These are magical spaces that white people find and set-up base. The white people who live there and partake of this prosperity only do so because the space is, as I said, magical in some way.

    Blacks and other nonwhites believe whites have simply stumbled upon these ‘nodes of prosperity’ and greedily keep nonwhites out. Nonwhites further believe that if they were simply to move into these white ‘nodes of prosperity’, they too would be transformed.

    It is not the physical space that makes a city, town, or neighborhood safe and prosperous. It is THE PEOPLE who build and maintain these communities.

    Nonwhites living in a white community will not be transformed by the community or the people who created it. Nonwhites will, however, transform white communities and rebuild them (or destroy them) in their own image.

  • Anonymous

    The data on which Francis and Taylor center their attention is exactly the same data that every student of IQ accepts—statistics that no one from Charles Murray (a Jew) to Dinesh D’Souza (an Indian) to Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams (both black) denies

    Uh, wait a minute! Charles Murray is a JEW?? Not according to the man himself – he has called himself “a Scots-Irish gentile from Iowa” in an article he wrote dealing with Jewish intelligence. http://tinyurl.com/3cafzsx What is the author’s purpose in capping a yarmulke on Murray (a recognizably Scottish surname by the way) – legitimizing somehow by association his opinion about IQ statistics?

  • McGilicuddy

    American exceptionalism is no more than the British way taken a bit further: our deeply-entrenched ideas on freedom and fairness, on just government, and our individualism, as well as our traditional isolationism, are more British than the British.

    Likewise, the American acceptance of the “other,” almost to such an extent that there is no “other,” is the same as the perverted and compromised enlightenment universalism that infects all the nations of the late-modern West-there is only a difference of degree. The Continentals being less racially-universalistic than the Anglo-Saxons, within whom, the British have the least, and the Americans the most, racially-universalist identity (interesting that in those lands with a more racially-universalist identity, the public will to preserve national sovereignty is strongest.)

  • Bill R

    Be very careful about establishing the “rule of law” as your God. When the Nazi’s passed their laws, it was perfectly legal to confiscate property from the Jews, deny them the vote, deny them presence in any business or educational institute, etc.

    Does anybody really trust any of our politicians today? Do we really want to fight and die for ANY laws they may enact? Do you really think affirmative action is a just law? For it IS law. Ask Eric Holder. Ask Obama. Ask the liberal courts which arrogantly rule against our Bill of Rights and Constitution (lawyers all, by the way) and then call it “legal precedent” therefore ipso facto law. European civilization only began to flourish when the Son of Man was embraced in the hearts. When God, not man, was placed as the ultimate judge and the ultimate being to emulate. When Man makes himself God, you get Obama and you get hell on earth. You get what you see today throughout the world. A godless, selfish, unruly, rebellious, profane, satanic and violent hell on earth everywhere God has been removed. “The Law” is anything man wants it to be. It has no deity to it, and if we deify it, then we become willing and able to legislate ANY abomination and injustice.

  • SS

    re: the part about asian intelligence…

    I’m really confused on this whole ‘Asians are the most intelligent of them all’ thing.

    Are you saying The West is actually second class and backwards while the Asians are advanced and civilized?

    Is it really better to make the Dollar equal to the Yen? Is it really more ethical to shave off the last digit from every unsuspecting bank customer (TCSB paid for software to do just that) than to not?

    Is worshiping cows and trashing rivers really better than The Western Way of Praying to God, eating meat and keeping rivers clean?

    Well, The West and White People may be second class intelligent but I’ll still take their Castles and Cobble Stone Streets over the Asians endless streams of filthy shacks and fecal/urine clad dirt streets any day of the week.

  • Urban Teacher

    Charles Murray is a Jew? Tha’s news to me.

    Murray as a first name may be Jewish, but usually not as a last name.

  • Shaun

    Excellent Article. I read the AT regularly and was very happy to see such a rebuttal.

  • Incognito

    The data on which Francis and Taylor center their attention is exactly the same data that every student of IQ accepts—statistics that no one from Charles Murray (a Jew)

    Charles Murray is a Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa.

    Mr. Murray has, however, studied and admires Jewish intelligence and has written articles for Commentary.

  • Madison Grant

    Dean Malik’s article was an intellectual embarassment.

    He seems to believe the modern myth that America was created to be a melting pot for every race and religion under the sun.

    He appears unaware that immigration was almost exclusively for whites only from 1776 until 1965.

  • Anonymous

    “Racial minorities pursue demands that the government surrender its impartiality with respect to all citizens and substitute for laws that equally bind all of the associates of the legal association that we know as the United States policies designed to benefit non-whites over whites, it is understandable that these same whites should seek to organize similarly. ”

    Uh yah. its otherwise known as FREAKIN MADNESS. RACISM. and INEQUALITY

    America is now a Anti-white society.

  • Anonymous

    A few of many quotes that suggest the founders of the United States were not Protestant or did they seek to establish a Protestant nation…

    Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my god and myself alone. – Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, 11 January 1817

    Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.- John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

    I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies. – Benjamin Franklin, quoted from Victor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. – Thomas Paine, (1737-1809), The Age of Reason, pt. 1

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen, — and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. – Treaty of Tripoli by John Adams, signed into law June 10, 1797.

  • Jake Prufrock
  • cainandtoddbenson

    Nice post. I have been thinking about the subject, “American Exceptionalism”, for some time now. I did a piece of art that best describes my thoughts.

    http://cainandtoddbenson.com/2011/04/08/american-exceptionalism/

  • Jay

    The Malik essay was notable for one reason. American Exceptionalism is an historical body of beliefs that have varied over time from the Declaration of Independence through the Mexican, Civil, and Spanish wars. It includes the triumphal notion of Manifest Destiny, and even expansionist demands to annex Mexico completely. It has been reinforced by so-called victories in World Wars I and II.

    However, the USA is a lot like other countries in terms of nationalism, expansionism, and imperialism. And American Exceptionalism depends on state control over the largest continental temperate-zone land mass in the world, relatively untouched, with minerals and resources to make any emperor of the past envious.

    But white liberation is something called into being over the past 50 years by the relentless drumbeat of our being attacked by the anti-white narrative. The propaganda effort has largely washed off our backs until a couple of decades ago, and affected primarily the sick, poor, aged, and young diverse white Americans. We are finally coming to recognize the attacks as a campaign of defamation, and the attacks are forcing us to re-think who we are.

    That every other demographic group has voices and defenders has not been lost on us. But the long and short of it is that the tribalization of America has called us out of ordinary decent lives to advocate our liberty from property re-distribution, from discrimination, and from a constant chorus of hatred, bullying, and supremacy by those other demographics. The law recognizes this as merely self-defense. Malik may just not feel the need for self-defense, but surely every diverse white American parent must accept that we are finally just another tribe on this continent with the need for leadership, growth, and decency. We didn’t draw lines separating groups from other groups, they did. We’re a true case of self-defense.

  • Jupiter7

    SS

    When you worship at the altar of the Bell Curve, you end up publicly insulting Native Born White Americans. And what I find really nauseating is the “hey Dean Malik, see I’m not a racist..I think Asains are smarter than White Americans”. And they are saying this to a highly racialized Pakistani “American” who greatly desires the race-replacement of the Native Born White American Majority.

    If Jared Taylor is serious about rallying his fellow Native Born White Americans to revolt against their race-replacement against high-fertility post-1965 Asians in America, he should drop the Bell Cure stuff immediatetly, for it is completetly irrelevant to the race-replacement issue. If Jared Taylor uses the Bell Curve stuff to demonstrate his noble intentions to a Pakistani invader, he has conceded the race issue to the Pakistani Malick and he has lost the public “debate”.

  • elitist

    I have been fortunate enough to have close friends of many different races: there are excellent people in all racial groups.

    Having said that, I want to live in a place that is at least 90% white, has As few blacks as possible, and no Muslims at all.

    This has nothing to do with white supremacy, racism, or the nonexistent “Islamophobia” the talking heads are babbling about these days.

    It is the fruit of more than half a century of close observation of many different people from many different races and cultures.

    And of living in a rapidly Islamizing in Europe – a Europe which is surrendering to the barbarian hordes after 1500 years of fighting them tooth and nail!!!

    In my experience, the most civilized people on earth are northern Europeans and European Jews and the Japanese.

    There are differences between human groups, and those differences are fairly obvious.

    It is not racism to believe that Swedes are more honest, reliable, punctual, and hard-working, more mature than Italians – just ask any Italian!!

    Any Italian will second this view, probably loudly, and then go on to point out that Italians are more fun at parties and make better lovers, dancers, & musicians than Swedes.

    Black behavior in general is so unbelievably awful that most blacks dedicate their lives to escaping from their own kind.

    Deep down, all whites secretly dream of living in communities that are as close to all white as possible – some are just more honest about than others.

  • Blaak Obongo

    “Well, The West and White People may be second class intelligent but I’ll still take their Castles and Cobble Stone Streets over the Asians endless streams of filthy shacks and fecal/urine clad dirt streets any day of the week.”

    We need to keep our terms properly defined. What is an “Asian?” Are you talking about India and Pakistan? Or do you mean Orientals?

    The PCspeak word “Asian” is devoid of racial connotation. There is no racial correspondence between, say, a Bangladeshi and a Japanese.

    I doubt that you’ll find many “filthy shacks and fecal/urine clad dirt streets” in Japan.

  • EV

    Comment #1 says,”Most non-whites are evil unless forced by whites to be good. A non-white who commits a rape or murder, should hang at dawn and opinions to the contrary should not be tolerated. That is what is normal and good.”

    Are you really lumping all nonwhites with Africans? Do you really believe that the Japanese are evil and are prone to rape and murder? Please do us a favor and be more race specific and stop lumping ALL nonwhites in the same categories as Africans. As a Korean, I’m very offended.

  • Anonymous

    9 — Incognito wrote at 10:55 PM on July 18:

    “The data on which Francis and Taylor center their attention is exactly the same data that every student of IQ accepts—statistics that no one from Charles Murray (a Jew)

    Charles Murray is a Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa.

    Mr. Murray has, however, studied and admires Jewish intelligence and has written articles for Commentary.”

    And so,……?

    Jewish is a religious/cultural group that exists on a number of continents, and like Christianity and Islam, includes racial demographics within it. The high IQ group has historically been the European, Ashkenazi group. Jewish is a religion, and like many other European ethnic groups, an ethnic, not a racial group. Regardless of the phony Khazar postulation made by known white supremacist, anti-Semtic groups, that is all there is to it. There is NOTHING to infer by suggesting something or anything about Murray just because he admires the accomplishments of a continually small, but high achieving group of people, people who could be the white realists friends and allies, if we could show a sign or two that we do not embrace long debunked conspiracy theories. As it is, it is understandable that many Jews fear whites who continue for nearly two thousand years, to embrace ideas that condone and encourage their extinction.

  • Bud

    “Exceptionalism” used to mean the FALSE belief that rules that have applied to other nations in history don’t apply to you. Conservatives/Republicans glommed onto to the term as just another means for them to avoid dealing with the issue of race in America. This term “exceptionalism” basically is only used by conservatives and only comes up on the issue of race. Furthermore, it is only aimed at the white conservative audience. Virtually all of the people who push the term understand that this society is on the brink of an abyss, that a non-white population will certainly destroy conservatism and the tattered remains of Western civilization here and reduce us from being a first world nation, almost to a man they pretty much believe what most people here believe. They’re just hucksters gaming the system for cash or prestige or some pet project or group. They know the idea that we can replace the white population and yet somehow magically remain the same nation is nonsense. They’re consciously lying in order to be allowed to remain in the game and get the cash. They’re the orchestra on the train platform. That particularly applies to politicians and media people.

  • SS

    To the ev korean,

    You’re lost. This website is not a korean news website.

    If you are to report back that you are here because you love whitey then prove it.

    Provide us with documentation showing how you have fought tooth and nail against the Government printing in your foreign language (DMV, vote here signs, etc.), Affirmative Action, Pan-Asian Chamber of Commerce, Asian Chamber of Commerce, Government set-asides, SBA set-asides, Corporate set-asides, College set-asides, asian birthing tours, chain migration and dual citizenship for starters.

  • SS

    black,

    asian means people from the East. I’m not willing to spend time separating them as I find every single Country/Region in the East to be Third World in one way or another and some being less so (Japan) makes no difference to me.

    My point about asians is this:

    In my Lifetime, I have never seen asians do anything for or contribute anything to White People or Western Culture.

    I have however, seen all of Asia receive Trillions in Aide, seen asians receive all kinds of special privileges in America, watched them take over every good job sector we have, buy up all the hotels and motels they can get their hands on, remain unassimilated and I have watched them inject their Third World Culture into The West.

    After writing the above, I understand now why asians are more intelligent than most White People. Asians are taking us over yet most white people actually fawn over them while they do it.

  • SS

    Dear Jupiter,

    I could not agree more.

    Just a side note here: I still find it hard to believe that “White” People are actually willing to be told time and time again just how stupid they are.

    Why isn’t anyone asking that if asians are truly smarter than White People, why aren’t White People learning from them? Why are asians learning about Western Inventions instead of White People learning about Asian Inventions?

  • Fr. John

    Anonymous 12 tries (vainly) to deny a Christian beginning to the USA.

    Selective quotes out of context, do not a watertight case make.

    Clearly 12 of the Thirteen colonies had trinitarian OATHS administered before someone could hold PUBLIC OFFICE in these states. That’s almost a theocracy today!

    So, take your claptrap hatred of Christianity and go peddle it elsewhere.

    We who are Christians stand on the shoulders of even the supposed ‘deists’ who at least ACKNOWLEDGED the God we serve. Whose shoulders are you standing on?

    Marcuse, Marx, and Freud? It would appear so.

  • White Advocate

    As it is, it is understandable that many Jews fear whites who continue for nearly two thousand years, to embrace ideas that condone and encourage their extinction.

    Jewish extinction? In the US?

    Your assertion is laughable!

    This is a scare tactic “embraced” by the SPLC and ADL to scare donors into believing that but for them, the Fourth Reich and K would be marching in the street for roundups, but for them, the camps would be open!

    What evidence to you have that the American people or American culture has EVER embraced, backed or condoned “ideas that encourage Jewish extinction?”

    I defy you to prove that the white American government or white American people EVER condoned Jewish extinction.

  • Anonymous

    Poster #20,

    I beg to differ. It is NOT a religious/cultural group of people. They are of a racial group who have intermixed with Whites, blacks, Orientals and so on, thereby diluting their racial makeup.

    If so, then why do so many Jews who are not religious, always emphasize that they are Jewish constantly? There are many secular Jews all over the world. Were all those in Germany, Poland and Russia religious Jews? NO!

    By the same token, those blacks who claim to be Jews are of the black race, no matter what their religion/culture is.

  • Anonymous

    Regardless of the phony Khazar postulation made by known white supremacist, anti-Semtic groups, that is all there is to it.

    Koestler, a Jew, is the source of the “Khazar Canard.” Not “white supremacists” or “anti-Semites.” Further, he wrote it out of pro-Jewish sentiments and identification.