I just read an opinion piece in today’s New York Times by Pankaj Mishra, the Indian author of Age of Anger: A History of the Present (2017). Titled “The Religion of Whiteness Becomes a Suicide Cult,” and subtitled “A wounded and swaggering identity geopolitics puts the world in grave danger,” it traces the global dominance of white racism during the 20th century (a tracing that, of course, could begin much further back). Mishra says “the Anglosphere originally forged and united by the slave trade and colonialism is in terminal crisis today. Whiteness used to denote, as Du Bois wrote, ‘the ownership of the earth forever and ever.’ But many descendants of the landlords of the earth find themselves besieged both at home and abroad, their authority as overlords, policemen, and interpreters of the globe increasingly challenged. Mr. Trump appears to some of these powerful but insecure men as an able-bodied defender of the ‘higher races.’
…The low comedy of charlatanry shouldn’t distract us from the lethal dangers of a wounded and swaggering identity geopolitics…Demographic, economic and political decline, and the loss of intellectual hegemony, have plunged many long-term winners of history into a vengeful despair, with the religion of whiteness increasingly resembling a suicide cult.” (I’d question Mishra’s use of the term “suicide cult,” as these racists seem to be trying to survive as overlords, their increasing violence harming others rather than themselves.)
Mishra concludes: “Mr. Trump’s trade wars, sanctions, border walls, deportations, denaturalizations, and other 11th-hour battles seem to push us all closer to the ‘terrible probability’ James Baldwin once outlined: that the rulers of the ‘higher races,’ ‘struggling to hold on to what they have stolen from their captives, will precipitate a chaos throughout the world which, if it does not bring life on this planet to an end, will bring about a racial war such as the world has never seen.’”
Sure enough, yesterday “Democracy Now” reported in its headlines section that “the Trump administration is increasingly denying passports to U.S. citizens of Mexican heritage, throwing their citizenship into question. It’s even begun jailing some passport applicants who have official state-issued birth certificates, because the government is questioning their paperwork. In other cases, Americans of Mexican heritage have had their passports revoked while abroad, preventing them from coming home. In one case, the State Department denied a passport to a 40-year-old Army veteran named Juan who had a birth certificate showing he was born in Texas. According to the Post, Juan’s passport was rejected even though he had spent three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol. He now works as a state prison guard.”
We don’t need a racial war (I’m not fighting for the white race), but it is hard to see how this increasing injustice can be countered peacefully, given our rigged and, in my opinion, ineffective political system.