Feature 05.28.2024 5 minutes

The Way Forward

man at sunset in suit , running over steppingstone

Noticing reality is the first step toward national renewal.

Race, more than anything else, has come to define American politics. Sixty years after the Civil Rights Act, it permeates virtually all political and cultural discourse. The decades-long campaign to position race at the center of American life has succeeded, and to avoid the subject is to embrace irrelevance.

Most accounts of this transformation are celebratory, as scholars and cultural tastemakers are intimately aware of the advantages of affirming the present. But in recent years a small cohort of intellectual rebels have gone against the grain, most notably Christopher Caldwell, whose book The Age of Entitlement provides an alternate account of the 1960s.

Caldwell argues that the 1964 Civil Rights Act effectively replaced the U.S. Constitution as the nation’s primary legal and moral authority, abridging the social contract and fundamentally altering the relationship between Americans and their government. Since its publication, Age of Entitlement has served as the definitive counterargument to the whitewashed, self-congratulatory retelling of racial progress. Caldwell’s book is a must-read, and its powerful thesis will continue to influence political dissent for years to come.

But if Age of Entitlement falls short anywhere—and it is difficult to argue that it does—it would be that Caldwell never uses the term ­anti-white to describe our present politics. Granted, the term would have been unthinkable in a mainstream publication before 2020. Previously, writers who addressed anti-white racial animus could expect severe professional and reputational consequences. Caldwell probably said as much as he dared at the time. But the political landscape has changed in significant ways since 2020. The George Floyd riots, a self-inflicted border crisis, and the Biden Administration’s openly discriminatory policies, along with Elon Musk’s purchase of X, have widened the aperture for political discourse and left little room for doubt that the hand of power in this country is decidedly anti-white.

To help us navigate this treacherous ground, Jeremy Carl has written The Unprotected ClassHow Anti-White Racism Is Tearing America Apart, a timely book that builds on Caldwell’s thesis to argue that anti-white racism is the most predominant and politically powerful form of racism in America today, and that it is being used to systematically dispossess America’s white majority.

To admit this is no small thing, even in a hotly charged political environment where race features so prominently. Speaking on behalf of white Americans today is to invite ostracism, harassment, and threats of violence. And because reputation and prestige are vital to the careers of public intellectuals like Carl, weighing in on such a contentious subject is to risk sacrificing important friendships and opportunities. That he would step forward to challenge America’s greatest taboo and say the unspeakable is not only admirable but displays a rare kind of patriotism that we desperately need today.

Carl shows courage and integrity throughout The Unprotected Class. Most notable is his adherence to an older notion of equality that rejects racial preferences of any kind and simply insists on equal rights for all Americans. Despite the countless outrages and injustices detailed in the book, Carl makes it clear that his purpose is not to stoke racial resentment or demoralize but to accurately describe a serious problem and offer pragmatic steps to correct it. In this way Carl, like Caldwell before him, departs from the intellectual herd to follow in the footsteps of that first generation of Americans who boldly traced the contours of power, despite the variety of rhetorical tricks and disguises used to shield Americans from seeing how politics actually functioned, to champion the cause of liberty.

The Unprotected Class patiently explores the roots of anti-white racism and reaffirms Caldwell’s thesis that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has swallowed the Constitution of 1787, giving rise to a new regime where race rather than natural law provides the foundation for all rights and privileges. Carl guides the reader through various stages of the transformation, showing how unjust policies past and present are not merely the product of poor planning or misallocated resources but part of a systematic displacement of the original Constitution. As a result, white Americans now belong to an unprotected class that must contend with a hostile bureaucracy unencumbered by popular consent, checks and balances, and the separation of powers.

Going beyond Caldwell’s historical narrative, Carl explores our recent past, showing how this unaccountable power has captured virtually every public and private institution, establishing a permanent regime of anti-white discrimination. Apart from fomenting discord and resentment, such changes have cultivated an intellectual and a cultural environment that seeks to redistribute land, property, and other wealth from America’s white majority.

Indeed, the future looks bleak. But after a lengthy diagnosis, including a sobering chapter on immigration and a stunning analysis of anti-white racism in healthcare, Carl concludes his study on an optimistic note. In “Finding Our Way Home,” he returns to the principles of yesteryear—to the ethos of an America that braved a depression, won two world wars, and sincerely tried to extend equal rights to all Americans:

These challenges are addressable, and all groups in America, not just white Americans, stand to gain from addressing them. Many people of all racial backgrounds understand the danger of our current situation, still believe in the vision articulated by America’s Founders, and want to fight for equal rights for Americans regardless of the color of their skin.

With this heartfelt appeal, Carl offers concrete steps that all Americans can take to challenge this unaccountable power that has wrought such great devastation and, with any luck, pull their country back from the brink of tyranny and chaos.

Some may take offense at Carl’s unflinching examination of anti-white racism, while others will scoff at his earnest defense of our founding principles. But Carl, like Christopher Caldwell before him, has provided a crystal-clear signal amidst an ocean of noise. More importantly, he has invited us to revisit that old theory of politics by removing the mask by which our regime disguises its true intentions.

Most Americans do not hate one another, and they overwhelmingly identify with the principles on which their nation was founded. There is no legitimacy to a regime that openly rejects the liberty of all citizens, even in the name of anti-racism. We want our nation to be peaceful, prosperous, and free, but the same despotism that preoccupied prior generations remains a threat. But if history tells us anything, it is that this is a fight we can win. And perhaps Jeremy Carl’s contribution here will help us finally take that first step.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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