Essay
08.19.2020

The riots reveal the revolution.

These remarks are adapted from a speech given on August 8, 2020 at a meeting of prominent Orange County conservatives.—Eds.

I have some good news. But first, some very bad news. We on the Right are confronting an enemy that wishes to destroy our way of life. To make matters worse, this enemy does not have a name. At least, no one has agreed on one yet. Some call it “identity politics.” Others call it “political correctness,” or “multiculturalism,” or “wokeness.” But whatever we call it, we must be clear that it aims to destroy the American way of life.

I favor the term “multiculturalism” because it is a concept more comprehensive than politics. The term, with its emphasis on culture and the “-ism” in its suffix, suggests a particular way of life. To this extent multiculturalism is like Communism. It too was a particular way of life. As with Communism a generation ago, today we are engaged in a conflict between two incompatible ways of life. This is a regime-level conflict, which the Claremont Institute has framed: “Multiculturalism v. America.”

As I am using the term, multiculturalism is a revolutionary movement animated by a doctrine that sees society not as a community of rights-bearing individuals with a shared understanding of a national good, but as a collection of cultural identity groups all oppressed by white males.

How, you might ask, do whites oppress identity groups? By means of family, religion, education and community. These institutions and the values they promote are, say the multiculturalists, the means by which whites impose their racist, sexist, homophobic values on the rest of society. Thus, the goal of the multiculturalists is to destroy, or fundamentally restructure, these institutions.

The multiculturalists believe that restructuring them will result in outcome parity among identity groups. Each group will have, proportional to its size, the same income (hence the need for socialism) and the same power as measured by job titles; that is, the same number of CEOs, senators, marines, firefighters, college presidents, physicists, soccer players, etc. Outcome parity is the multiculturalists’ idea of a just society; hence the term “social justice.”

A society that seeks outcome parity cannot possibly co-exist peacefully with a free society like America, which is guided by nature’s laws. In such a society there will always be group differences—between men and women as well as among various sub-cultures. That is the natural result of freedom.

Multiculturalism requires crushing these natural differences and so demands a never-ending expansion of state power and social restrictions, including shutting up those who object to multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism was born and bred in our colleges and universities. It captured the extreme wing of the Democratic Party, which in turn has captured the entire party. I do not suppose rank and file Democratic politicians intend to destroy the American way of life. But in going along with the party radicals—and virtually all do—that is exactly what they are doing.

Joe Biden is one of the go-along Democrats. The worry is not so much his cognitive limitations as his intellectual and moral mediocrity, which makes him unable to resist the radicals. As such, he is their vessel. He will follow where they lead.

Biden and the Democratic Party are, of course, supported by the media, the entertainment industry, non-profits, unelected bureaucrats and, more recently, by major corporations.

What is the American way of life that Republicans should want to preserve? The way of life practiced by the vast majority of Americans until a generation or two ago. A way of life that is still practiced in much of America.

Those who subscribe to this way of life believe Americans share a single culture, directed by a creed (expressed most notably in the Declaration), and supported by the Judeo-Christian ethos. There are no hyphenated Americans. We are all just Americans. Colorblindness is our aspiration. For most of us, happiness is found in family, church, and community.

We value hard work, no matter how humble, and self-reliance. We are the least class-conscious, most individualist, religious, patriotic, neighborly people in the world.

We believe that we are the shining city on the hill, marked out to show the rest of the world that people can govern themselves. We believe we have done great things in the past and are capable of doing more. This success, despite missteps, makes us a confident people. No wonder we think ourselves exceptional in both senses of the term: distinct and better.

Multiculturalism, on the other hand, teaches that we are unworthy—not just that we have sinned (which of course we have) but that we are irredeemably sinful. Patriotism is replaced with shame. Confidence is replaced with doubt. Under the multiculturalist dispensation we are not one people but a collection of different peoples. Colorblindness is replaced with race consciousness. Multiculturalism induces victimhood among blacks (and other so-called “oppressed” identity groups) and guilt among whites. You are either a victim or an oppressor

Multiculturalism is backward-looking and teaches us that our top priority should be reparations and affirmative action. It teaches that capitalism is a form of slavery and the nation-state is evil. Indeed, multiculturalism teaches that all of America—its values, customs, and institutions—is evil.

Good News

And now to the good news. The riots. I do not mean, of course, that the riots are somehow good things in themselves. And I don’t mean that they play to Trump’s image as a law-and-order man. They may or may not. I mean the riots have exposed multiculturalism for what it is: a revolutionary movement, led by the Democratic Party, aimed at destroying the American way of life.

The revolution has been proceeding apace for many years, but to most Americans it has been partially hidden. They often have seen its tentacles—political correctness for example—but never the monster in its full horror. Now they can. Although it is now possible to see how multiculturalism is destroying the American way of life, it is by no means inevitable that American people will see it. Our Republican leaders must help them see. They must explain what is actually going on in these riots.

For starters, Republicans must explain that the riots are neither an isolated uprising—the work of a few extremists—nor the excusable excesses of justified protests, as the multiculturalist Democrats claim.

Unfortunately, this is just what the Republicans are not doing. One often hears from Republicans, almost as frequently as from Democrats, that although the riots are not justified, the protests are.

No, they are not. It certainly would have been justified to protest the cruel death of Mr. George Floyd, but that was never what the protests were about. In the first instance, they were about (supposed) police racism. But in a larger sense, they were about (supposed) “systematic” American racism. If Republicans concede these premises—even if they do so only partially—then they will get dragged down the road to multiculturalism.

Republicans must also make it clear that Black Lives Matter, although at the head of the revolution, is not really leading it. Rather, BLM is being used by the multiculturalist Democrats. BLM, having manufactured a huge crisis out of George Floyd’s death, has created the opportunity for the Democratic party to move farther and faster than it otherwise could have. Republicans must make clear that BLM and the multiculturalist Democrats share the same agenda.

Thus, it is essential that Republicans show the connection between the riots and the Democratic Party. These are the “Democrat riots.” Republicans should say just that. A practically endless procession of Democrat mayors and city council members, Democrat district attorneys and attorneys general, Democrat governors, and Democrat politicians at all levels have, on camera and in writing, sanctioned the rioting. Republican leaders must make sure the American people see and hear that. And never forget it.

The Revolutionary Plan of Attack

In the riots, as well as in governments’ response to the coronavirus, we can see exactly how the multiculturalist Democrats are going about destroying the American way of life. But again, what we are seeing must be explained in the context of the overall revolution:

  • A revolution requires a new history, one that conforms to the revolutionaries’ desired narrative—in this case, the narrative is: “America is evil.” The rioters began by removing statues of Confederate generals. But now they are removing all statues, including those of people like Frederick Douglass who fought against slavery. Republicans must make it clear that the taking down of statues of abolitionists is not simply “collateral” damage. The truth is, the rioters are being egged on by the multiculturalist Democrats, part of their carefully planned effort to expunge American history in its entirety, replacing it with the New York Times’s 1619 version of history which puts slavery, not equality, at the center of America’s past.
  • Before the riots, most Americans probably were not aware that the destruction of traditional marriage is part of the multiculturalist revolution. But now Republicans can make them aware. All that is required is to point to the BLM mission statement, which calls for the destruction of the traditional family and the promotion of transgenderism.
  • Socialism, unlike other elements of the revolution, was indeed very visible before the riots. But Republicans need to do a better job explaining how socialism fits within the revolution. Specifically, how socialism is part of the multiculturalist project to achieve outcome parity. The multiculturalist revolutionaries aim to destroy what they call “Racial capitalism.”
  • The rioters are toppling religious statues. They recently held a ceremony in which they burned bibles. In response to the novel coronavirus, pastors and worshippers have been treated as second-class citizens. Again, it must be explained that the destruction of religion is calculated: part of the multiculturalists’ plan to destroy the values that undergird the American way of life.
  • The revolution also requires replacing local communities with rule by the multiculturalist administrative state. Has this not been patently clear in responses to the virus, when federal and state governments (particularly but not exclusively in blue states) made decisions that rightfully belonged to individuals and local governments? Our experience with coronavirus “experts” like Dr. Fauci shows us vividly what a profound and immediate threat the administrative state is to the American way of life.
  • There have been repeated calls to defund the police, an initiative so stupid that it defies belief. If ever there was a wake-up call this should be it. But like all else, it needs to be explained in the context of the overall revolution. Defunding the police has nothing at all to do with saving black lives, and everything to do with creating the instability necessary for the revolution.
  • Major corporations have been woke for years, but their wokeness is now easier to see. One example: Major corporations have withdrawn advertising from Tucker Carlson, who has become a very important voice on the Right. How long before these corporations withdraw advertising not just from Tucker’s show but from all of Fox? At that point, Tucker’s platform at Fox is history. It is also now easier to see how outsourcing and our reliance on China hurts Americans.
  • Education, too, has been visibly corrupt for years. But as the so-called “anti-racism” statements being issued by virtually every college and university make abundantly clear, multiculturalism now speaks with irresistible authority in our universities and will punish any who dare speak up against it. Princeton University’s anti-racism statement includes a provision for a new faculty committee to establish “guidelines on what counts as racist behavior and racist research.” Who can doubt but that this committee will be comprised of the most devout multiculturalists, ready to ensure that no research will be published that might contravene the America-is-evil narrative? This is the sort of thing Republicans must bring to the attention of the American people. The takeover of multiculturalism at our universities is a profound crisis that Republicans must take on, because our universities are the source of all teaching in America from kindergarten through graduate school.

We all knew that political correctness reigned on college campuses. But with the riots (and the coronavirus), the destructive power of cancel culture and political correctness in society at large is much easier to see. But even what we see is only the tip of the iceberg. I suspect that many of you are not aware of the extent to which our large multiculturalist tech companies censored assessments of the virus that ran counter to Dr. Fauci’s doomsday scenario. Even Amazon, which has generally been pretty good about carrying heterodox books, got into the act. How many people were killed and livelihoods lost because we failed to heed the warnings of the virus contrarians? Probably a lot.

Or take Heather Mac Donald, who, as some of you probably know, has been defending police against various charges of malfeasance for years. Recently, she gave an hour-long lecture making the case that police are not racist. The video was immediately yanked by YouTube (which is owned by Google). After pressure, the video was reinstated, but with a warning that Heather’s video was unsuitable for minors. Think about that for a second. The multiculturalists at Google believe that children should not be exposed to information that suggests that the police are not racist.

Bad as that is, things likely will get worse. Who will publish Heather’s next book on the police (or anything else for that matter)? Probably not a mainline publisher. There still are a few small conservative publishers, but how long can they hold out? And even if the book is published, who will carry it? Amazon is no longer reliable. Is it possible the book could be banned outright? A few months ago that would have sounded farfetched. It no longer does. This is the multiculturalist future the Republicans must describe.

No Apologies, No Excuses

For good reason, Americans are scared to speak up. I was talking today to a friend, a man of some visibility, who will not publicly criticize Black Lives Matter for fear that his son, who teaches in a local public school, would be subject to recriminations by the multiculturalist mob. My friend is not a coward; he is simply being prudent. I ask you: are you not similarly fearful of speaking your mind? Is it not obvious that we shall not have a democracy if people cannot speak up? Obvious or not, Republicans must hammer it home.

Republicans need to mount a counter-revolution. So far, for the most part, they have been playing defense. Some of them do object to some of the things I mention, but not forcefully enough and without the necessary sense of urgency. More importantly, they do not tie all these things together in an overarching account that counters the false multiculturalist narrative. They would do well to follow Tucker Carlson’s lead. Night after night, in appropriately apocalyptic terms, Tucker explains the revolution using the news of the day.

Like Tucker, Republicans must call the Democratic-Party-inspired riots what they are: a revolution. An attempt to overthrow the American founding. President Trump said just this in his excellent Mt. Rushmore speech. Republicans should follow suit—Republicans everywhere, at every level, and at every opportunity.

Republicans should explain that convincing us America is systemically racist is central to the multiculturalist revolution. That the multiculturalist Democrats and their media allies sing this refrain from morning to night does not make it true. But this falsehood cannot be allowed to go unanswered. The American people need to hear what they know in their hearts: they are not racists. Republicans should stand up and say, “no, America is not racist.” Period.

Republicans also need to say that the police are not racist. Period. When Republicans talk about improving the police, they are conceding too much of the multiculturalist police-are-racist narrative. Can the police be improved? Undoubtedly. But improvement of the police is not what the multiculturalist Democrats want; they want its destruction. And because they want its destruction, any concessions on the part of Republicans will be followed by a never-ending procession of demands. Now is the time to defend the police—categorically.

So too in the case of statues. There may be a time to visit the question of statues. Not all statues are forever. But to make concessions now is a mistake. We want to improve America; the multiculturalist Democrats want to destroy it. Between these two goals there is no basis for compromise.

Republicans must say, as Senator Tom Cotton recently did say, that the New York Times’s 1619 Project is “garbage” and must never be taught in our schools. The same is true of the Black Lives Matter curriculum that major corporations are supporting. We shall never sustain our country if we continue to teach the next generation of citizens that their country is evil.

Republicans must take BLM head on. If there is a more racist organization than BLM, I do not know what it is. Republican leaders must let the American people hear this. Now. Because ordinary Americans do care about actual black lives, they assume that BLM shares that concern. Nothing could be further from the truth, which is precisely why the multiculturalists punish those who dare to speak that truth.

To BLM and to their Democratic handlers, Republicans must say: “absolutely, black lives matter. They just don’t matter to you. You don’t care about Mr. Floyd, the black businesses you have destroyed, or the blacks who are getting killed because you have forced the police to back off. These blacks are just abstractions to you. Their tragedies are just a prop for your agenda. You’re here for destruction. Not black lives, not any lives.”

Perhaps most importantly, Republicans must say over and over that America is “incredible,” to use President Trump’s adjective of choice. They must remind the American people that their country has brought more freedom and more prosperity to more people than any country in the history of mankind. Americans know this, but they desperately need to hear it from their leaders.

But to mount such a defense, Republicans must, like Trump, breach political correctness. After all, what is political correctness but a prohibition on defending America and its distinctive way of life? The shutting up of those who defend America is the lynchpin of the multiculturalist revolution. This is why, as President Trump once said, political correctness is the problem of our time. If Republicans do not stand up to political correctness I do not see how they can adequately defend America. Time is running out.

Never Falter

I give the last word to Abraham Lincoln, because it is his words that best answer the multiculturalists’ claim that America is racist. Lincoln explains that it is not racism but equality that is at the center of our way of life. It is Lincoln who best explains who we are as people. And, except for the Civil War era, we have never been more in more need of such an explanation.

Lincoln is not only our great explainer. He is what heroes are: an inspiration. He inspires us to do noble things. Noble things are difficult things.

As a young man, unknown beyond central Illinois, Lincoln wrote:

If ever I feel [worthy] it is when I contemplate the cause of my country, deserted by all the world…and I standing up boldly and alone…hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequences… I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty and my love. And who, that thinks with me, will not fearlessly adopt the oath that I take. Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But, if after all we shall fall, be it so. We shall have the proud consolation of saying to our conscience [that in defending our country] we never faltered.

We are, I think, in a moment such as the one Lincoln imagines when he is defending his country against victorious oppressors. Our oppressors today, they too are victorious, or nearly so. And so it is time, as Lincoln says, to swear eternal fidelity to the just cause of the land of our liberty and our love, the land which remains the last best hope of earth. If, after all, we shall fail, be it so. We shall have the proud consolation of saying to our conscience that in defending America we never faltered. Thank you.

is a principal in the investment firm of Cohen, Klingenstein, LLC and the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute.

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