AIM, Jonathan Metzl, and the Illusion of Oppression
The American Identity Movement recently protested a speech by Jonathan Metzl, author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland. Prof. Metzl’s book argues that white identity politics leads Middle American whites to vote against their own interests on issues such as immigration, health care, and social services. AIM—uninvited—offered Prof. Metzl’s audience a different message: Whites won’t give away their homeland in exchange for handouts. Nationalists can have a country of their own that offers a good standard of living.
WATCH: American Identity Movement activists disrupt Jonathan Metzl’s “Dying of Whiteness” lecture at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC!
The white working class should not have to choose between good healthcare and having a homeland. pic.twitter.com/QEEQw4pj8x
— AMERICAN IDENTITY MOVEMENT (@AIM_America) May 5, 2019
Media responded with horror:
- “White nationalists target bookstores and a library in protests nationwide,” SFGate
- “He Wrote About Racial Resentment in the White Working Class. Then White Nationalists Proved His Point,” Chronicle of Higher Education
- “White Nationalists Interrupt Book Talk At Politics And Prose,” DCist
One journalist, Ike Ejiochi of Fox 5, implicitly threatened violence (before deleting his tweet).
University of Berkeley professor Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers was blunt about it.
How can we be sure that conservative students are safe in her classes? pic.twitter.com/S0ExIYmrx7
— Patrick Casey 🇺🇸 (@PatrickCaseyUSA) April 28, 2019
The Mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, tied the protest to a synagogue shooting.
To some journalists, AIM’s protest was sacrilege. Petula Dvorak in The Washington Post called the left-leaning bookstore a “temple of words and pages, a church of discussion and debate.” Though it was a peaceful protest and far less threatening than what conservatives endure on campuses, Miss Dvorak invoked the Holocaust and synagogue shootings, associating the protest with the “threat of violence and ugliness the fuels it.”
Miss Dvorak mocked the identitarians for not being willing to debate Prof. Metzl, but American Identity Movement president Patrick Casey has more than once challenged Prof. Metzl to a debate. Prof. Metzl refuses, and claims the protest was about “intimidation.” This is a classic leftist tactic—people with massive establishment support claim to be threatened by small dissident groups.
Prof. Metzl made the most of his “intimidation.” Joy Reid of MSNBC gave him a softball interview. He got several stories of sympathetic coverage in The Washington Post. In one called “White nationalists interrupt author at Politics and Prose,” there were no quotations from AIM except for two brief slogans from the protest. Prof. Metzl was quoted extensively, calling AIM protesters “Nazis.” The Post filed the story under the category of “Public Safety.”
Later The Washington Post gave Prof. Metzl a platform for an editorial called “It’s time to talk about being white in America.” “It’s not enough for well-meaning whites to #resist specific policies,” he wrote. “They need to contest his [President Trump’s] very definition of whiteness.” Just like Robin DiAngelo, Prof. Metzl wants whites to abandon their racial identity. While white workers must “see their privilege and begin the work of dismantling it,” Prof. Metzl and Prof. DiAngelo will no doubt increase their own privilege by charging fat fees to supervise the reeducation process.
Can anyone ID these guys? https://t.co/i0MzzC5Lkq
— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) April 28, 2019
Good of these “American Identity Movement” Nazi Morons to smile for the cameras so their pictures can be spread and they can all get their scumbag asses fired by the end of next week #AntiRacismIsNoLongerPolitical https://t.co/Wd2JuVvZMI
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) April 27, 2019
Prof. Metzl isn’t challenging privilege. He typifies it. He enjoys prominent media platforms and favorable coverage. He can avoid debate. Meanwhile, his opponents are threatened with economic ruin by the powerful capitalists he supposedly opposes. He is a pillar of the system, not a challenge to it.
Prof. Metzl is not speaking truth to power. He’s speaking power to truth. He doesn’t want a discussion about being white in America; he wants to silence anyone who does.