This is the third in a series of articles on the question, raised most publicly by Patrick Buchanan, whether the Tea Party movement nurtures white consciousness and unity and will become the political basis for whites as a people.
Patrick Buchanan has argued that whites' dispossession and displacement by non-whites is forging a new sense of white identity that hadn't existed before. Tea Parties are the most visible, though certainly not the only, manifestation of this deep, political, cultural, and historical phenomenon. Pat compared this process to the birth of Palestinian nationalism in the wake of Israeli occupation, and there are plenty of other examples throughout history he could have mentioned as well, including the Tibetans and Polish.
Generally, ethnic groups that are similar fight wars with each other, but when confronted by different races and peoples, they forge common identities.
Koreans and Japanese and Indians and Pakistanis hate each other in their homelands, but they all join the Asian Student Association in America. Mexicans have a complex racial caste structure in Mexico, and wouldn't even think of aligning themselves with Guatemalans or Hondurans; all come together in America, however, to fight for Latino power and "la raza." In fact, a lot of the Mexican immigrants in this country come from Indian peasant groups who do not identify as Mexicans or even speak Spanish. They're "Hispanic" once they sneak across the border.
While Europeans squabbled amongst themselves for millennia, they often united against a non-white foe -- be it the Moors, Ottomans, or Mongols.
This can also be seen with bi- and multi-racial identities. In America -- with whites still greatly outnumbering blacks -- mulattos, including our president, tend to identify themselves as black. In Africa or Haiti, however, where pure Africans are the norm, they have their own identity.
There are biological reasons for this. In his book On Genetic Interests, F.A. Salter of the Max Planck Institute offered an explanation of group solidarity taking off from the "Selfish Gene" concept, which holds that a great deal of behavior is explained as our DNA trying to reproduce itself. According to this view, there is a "genetic interest" in preserving our kin beyond our children. As the famous line from JBS Haldane goes, "I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins."
Salter take this a step further to extended families -- ethnic groups or, as he calls them, "ethnies." There is certainly more genetic differences within ethnies than between cousins, but in large numbers and vis-à-vis genetically alien groups, ethnies can be said to have unitary interests.
Although being more dilute stores of genetic interest than families, ethnies can number in the millions and so are often orders of magnitude more precious. If immigrants replaced one quarter of the English nation of approximately 50 million people, the remainder would suffer a very large loss even if their own relatives were not affected. If 12.5 million Danes and similar peoples moved to England, the genetic loss to the remaining English would be the equivalent of 209,000 children. The corresponding loss due to the same number of immigrants from India would be 2.6 million children, and due to Bantus over 13 million children.
With this in mind, let's look at American identity. In his famous book Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, David Hackett Fischer examines how we were founded by essentially four different British sub-groups: Puritans from East Anglia who went to Massachusetts, Cavaliers and Indentured Servants who came to Virginia from the South of England, North Midland Quakers who settled Delaware and Pennsylvania, and North British and Scots Irish who settled the Appalachia. What stands out in Fischer's account is just how much these groups hated each other. But they all eventually began to see themselves as British Americans and eventually just as Americans as the United States became its own unique country.
As time went on, Germans and then the Irish came to America with much opposition and suspicion, but they, too, eventually assimilated as Americans. Then it was the turn of Southern and Eastern Europeans. Israel Zangwill's iconic play, The Melting Pot, refers to America as "God's Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming!" [emphasis added]
The relative genetic distance between these different European ethnies was marginal (e.g. English and Irish and English and German are so similar that for the purposes of genetic interests, German-Americans had no real reason to oppose Irish immigration). When the new European immigrant groups came over, the conflicts that arose between natives and newcomers were largely cultural. And next to no second- or third-generation Pole or Italian failed assimilate.
Race deniers and creationists will use this latter fact to show that the definition of white is flexible -- as put forth in books like How the Irish Became White -- and open borders advocates will say that America has consistently been hostile to new ethnic groups who nonetheless assimilated. Even some more politically correct immigration restrictionists like Mark Kirkorian see Asian and Latin American immigration as "the continuation of the expansion of 'Us.'"
Whatever truth there is to an "expanded" American identity, until the second half of the 20th century, no one questioned who was white or that America was a white country.
The 1790 Naturalization Act limited citizenship to whites. At that time there were small numbers of Poles, Italians, Jews and other Eastern and Southern Europeans in the country. Many were quite prominent. The Italian Taliaferros were one of the First Families of Virginia, and the Polish Jew Haym Salomon was considered "the Banker of the American Revolution." There was no discussion about denying these men citizenship, as they were considered white.
Of course, there was also the issue of black slaves and Native Americans. While greater in genetic distance from whites than Asians and most Hispanics, blacks were seen as American in some sense. And they were given citizenship by the 14th Amendment, and by the 20th century, even segregationists saw them as fellow Americans, though not equal. Native Americans were not given citizenship until 1924 -- the year of the last great immigration cut off -- but had long been romanticized. American whites generally did not see them as their equals or part of them but as groups that they had wronged.
Where does this fit in to the prospects for white identity in multiracial America? Based solely on Ethnic Genetic Interests, one would conclude that the more non-white America becomes, the stronger white racial identity would become.
But that clearly isn't happening. At least, not at the moment.
One reason, put forth by Steve Sailer, is that whites do not view non-Asian Minorities (NAMs) as competitors, because, deep down, they know they are not their equals in ability. They simply segregate themselves from them as much as possible and then use them as tools in their fights with other whites. Even Tea Partiers have paraded black speakers and entertainers before the crowds to prove that they're less racist than MSNBC.
I don't think whites will ever see themselves as a besieged group unless non-whites dominate positions of power (as opposed to the situation we've had for decades in which white elites pursue anti-white policies.) One can look at how much even white liberals tend to hate black mayors such as Marion Barry or Ray Nagin. In this sense, the liberals are probably right that Obama's race is an important factor in the opposition to him from the Tea Parties, especially now that his "post racial" façade has fallen off.
I would, however, question the assertion that the Tea Parties are overtly anti-racist. There are many career politicians attached to the movement, Dick Armey most notably, who wring their hands about the absence of non-white "outreach" and presence of Rep. Steve King and Tom Tancredo, who will scare off blacks. The Tea Partiers have also strained to put the few black faces front and center, as if they're casting for a college brochure. However, I don't think your average Tea Partier really cares one way or the other.
Whites have segregated themselves in every single aspect of their lives without really acknowledging it. I don't think most would even think twice about the fact that there weren't any blacks at their Tea Parties if it were not for the reminders by Keith Olbermann and Co. However, even if they do not attribute the lack of blacks to insufficient pandering or the left-wing media, I doubt many have considered the real implications.
When they speak of "real Americans," they mean to exclude the urban elites more than the urban underclass. And more importantly, they don't consider that if there are virtually no non-whites in the movement, what will the fate of limited government be when whites become a minority in America.
Unfortunate, outside Pat Buchanan, there is no visible commentator who's willing to even broach the question of whether white identity might be natural, legitimate, and politically effective.