One of the things that will surely get you labeled a fake-news-disseminating social-justice warrior on George Soros’s payroll is the suggestion that there just might be some racial resentments underlying the Trump movement in American politics. A new finding from Public Policy Polling helps shows why the racism suspicion persists, and why it enrages those who are suspected.
Respondents to a national survey of registered voters were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Black History Month. As a follow-up, they were asked if there should be a White History Month. Overall respondents favored Black History Month by a 57-18 margin, and opposed a White History Month by a 58-22 margin. Ho-hum.
But if you break out responses by self-reported 2016 presidential voting, it gets more interesting. Trump voters support Black History Month by a meh 38-25 margin (Clinton voters support it 75-10). Meanwhile, a plurality of Trump voters (37-35) think we need a White History Month (Clinton voters oppose it 8-77).
I would bet the farm I do not own that if asked about support for a White History Month these Trump supporters would claim it’s a product of their anti-racism: If there’s going to be a Black History Month it needs to be balanced with one for white people to ensure race neutrality. A parallel argument is that everybody ought to be able to express pride in one’s race. This was the claim famously made by a New Jersey deli owner who in 2015 put up a sign in his window commemorating March as “White History Month”:
Jim Boggess, proprietor of Jimbo’s Deli on Main at 22 Main St., says, “No matter what you are – Muslim, Jewish, black, white, gay, straight – you should be proud of what you are. I shouldn’t have to feel bad about being white.”
Jimbo immediately lost so much business that he had to close his deli, and he complained that “[i]t was only supposed to be a white thing, but people read more into it than that.” Damn political correctness!
It may be too much to expect people like Boggess to understand the systematic destruction and distortion of African-American history that made Black History Month necessary. But you do wonder what a White History Month would look like. Would it focus on America’s all-but-forgotten 44 white presidents? The long-lost tradition of white literature from James Fenimore Cooper to John Grisham? The economic contributions of Fortune 500 CEOs over the decades?
Textbooks for a White History Month would be easy to devise: Just go to a library and pull out any standard American or World History school textbook published before about 1970. And that, of course, gets to the hiding-in-plain-sight itch that the idea of a White History Month scratches: bringing back the mythical civilization that was uncomplicated by multiculturalism or any sense that racial injustice may have contributed to the predominance of Europeans and their progeny.
Longing for a return to White History isn’t the only sentiment behind the MAGA slogan. But pretending it’s not there at all is an act of denial as egregious as the desire to turn back the clock and exult in the unity and strength of American Greatness as defined in the 1950s.