Kobe, Impeachment and the Coronavirus: A Study on the Dangers of White Liberal Fragility
White liberalism is not a kinder, gentler form of white supremacy, or a lesser evil to the more explicit racism of Trump and his base.
“Racist panic over the disease has been stoked by the entire ruling class, with a special role being played by the so-called ‘liberal’ corporate media.”
White liberal America has lost its mind. Some have called this phenomenon “Trump Derangement Syndrome” but there is a better explanation for the madness which prevails among the so-called liberal section of the white American population. White liberals see Trump as an existential threat to their centuries-long privilege of accumulating the benefits of white supremacist violence without any accountability. The Black Lives Matter uprising shifted public consciousness away from the politics of color-blindness and exposed the elements of Black leadership that white liberals have relied upon to forward their ruling class agenda. Amid a political atmosphere of heightened uncertainty for the entire ruling structure of U.S. imperialism, white liberals have become increasingly fragile and unafraid to wield the tools of racism as an act of self-preservation.
Three viral news stories over the last few weeks have exemplified the violence inherent in the growing fragility of the white liberal class. Kobe Bryant’s untimely death, the proliferation of the coronavirus in China, and President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial all demonstrate in their own way that white liberalism is not a kinder, gentler form of white supremacy. In fact, white liberalism is more effective than the racism espoused by the far right. Rather than mount a direct attack, elites of the white liberal variety pose as ideological and political allies of the oppressed to achieve their aims of economic, political, and military domination. As the white liberal class becomes more desperate, the consequences of its racist endeavors become more apparent.
“Elites of the white liberal variety pose as ideological and political allies of the oppressed to achieve their aims of economic, political, and military domination.”
Kobe Bryant’s death sent a shockwave of sadness across much of Black America and those who follow the game of basketball. This should come as a surprise to no one. Kobe Bryant is considered one of the best players to ever play the sport and his NBA career is followed worldwide. In 2003, Bryant became ensnared in a rape allegation that ended in a financial settlement with the accusing party. In 2020, the case resurfaced in tweets and think-pieces directly following Bryant’s death.
Rape is a serious problem, but white liberals have exploited the issue to dehumanize Black men. Black male death is hardly a singular event in the United States. Black men have the lowest life expectancy of all racial groups and are most likely to be killed by the police or incarcerated. Deceased Black men are then scrutinized and examined for their potential criminality more than any other sector of the U.S. population. Very few of those who claim to be concerned about Bryant’s history of rape have mentioned that Black men rarely escape prison or death when accused of such a crime. Bryant’s connection to the halls of white power kept him out of prison. Even worse, none have placed someone like Jeffery Epstein under the same microscope. Before his “suicide,” Epstein ran a literal sex ring dedicated to the rape of young women that was attended by the most powerful political figures in the world.
“Bryant’s connection to the halls of white power kept him out of prison.”
In the United States, white liberal fragility has always been most dangerous for Black Americans. Black lives are placed in perpetual danger of premature death or incarceration by the false accusations of white Americans who claim to have good, even socially just intentions. White liberalism is a key pillar in the national mythology of American exceptionalism. The struggle for a stable and prosperous “American Democracy” has always been tied to the destruction and exploitation of Black life. As the era of full spectrum American dominance reaches its final hour, the white liberal class and their allies in the Black misleadership class have only empowered white nativism by championing measures of austerity, mass incarceration, and war. It is telling that white feminists and other academic elites in the white liberal class have spent more time on Kobe Bryant’s character than on any of these issues.
The fragility of white liberalism is even more apparent in the Western coverage of the novel coronavirus that originated in China. Racist panic over the disease has been stoked by the entire ruling class, with a special role being played by the so-called “liberal” corporate media. Western media outlets have filled their pages and airwaves with racist Yellow Peril tropes. Non-stop coverage of the virus has related the centuries old Western view that China is populated with savages who dine in the most peculiar of meats. Just being Chinese has become associated with the spread of the coronavirus.
“Western media outlets have filled their pages and airwaves with racist Yellow Peril tropes.”
White liberalism has done nothing but harm to the Chinese effort to eradicate the disease. The New York Times, a bastion of white liberal fragility, has published article after article blaming the Chinese government for covering up the severity of the coronavirus. Authorities in China have been made to look negligent, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The World Health Organization (WHO) has praised China’s wide-ranging effort in controlling the spread of the virus. A national patriotic health campaign has mobilized the whole of Chinese society to research the cause of the disease, prevent its spread, and treat the infected. Two hospitals have been built in a matter of weeks solely dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak.
Of course, white American fear of China is not about the coronavirus at all. It is about China’s rise as a global superpower and what this means for U.S. hegemony. China’s response to the disease shows that its government is organized to respond to the needs of the masses first and profit later. The opposite is true of the United States. While China leads the world in things such as renewable energy,poverty reduction, and high-speed rail, the United States leads the world in military spending, incarceration, and debt. White liberals have joined the anti-China chorus not out of concern for humanity but out of spite for it. As a form of white supremacy, white liberalism is predicated on serving a capitalist elite committed to dehumanizing and then eliminating any threat to its continued rule. The rise of China as a global superpower and the second largest economy armed with a trillion-dollar infrastructure initiative called the Belt and Road Initiative has moved white liberals into a desperate state of panic about the future of their empire.
“Authorities in China have been made to look negligent, yet nothing could be further from the truth.”
The impeachment saga has its own variant of white liberal racism. As an extension of the four-plus year Russiagate conspiracy, white liberals have made impeachment the principle goal of their “resistance” to Donald Trump’s presidency. Removal of Trump from office was never a possibility under a Republican-majority Senate. Impeachment has mostly served as a strategy to legitimize the lie that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to place Trump in office. Fragile white liberals have used Russiagate to avoid accountability for the electoral failures of the Democratic Party. Even worse, white liberal fragility over Trump’s so-called connection to Russia has only further empowered the dangerous U.S. imperial strategy of fomenting war with the world’s foremost nuclear power.
Adam Schiff is the most prominent leader in the effort to impeach Donald Trump. Schiff exemplifies white liberal fragility in the flesh. His panic over Donald Trump is driven purely by self-interest. The California Representative has received luxurious fundraisers hosted by Ukrainian arms dealers. Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and a slew of military contractors fill Schiff’s coffers with tens of thousands worth in political donations. Adam Schiff is deeply invested in impeachment because the Trump administration’s flirtation with holding back military aid to Ukraine directly impacts his militarist donor base.
“Impeachment has mostly served as a strategy to legitimize the lie that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”
It should come as no surprise then that Schiff’s white liberal fragility manifests as imperialist bellicosity toward Russia and its people. During the impeachment trial, Schiff called the Russian government an “autocracy” and a “thugocracy.” He evoked Reagan’s framing of the United States as a “shining city upon a hill” fully equipped with a democratic political system far superior to whatever exists in Russia. U.S. military aid to Ukraine, according to a quoted witness at the impeachment inquiry cited by Schiff, makes it possible to “fight Russia over there so we don’t have to fight Russia here.” These anti-Russian talking points not only represent a dangerous example of war propaganda but also a reflection of the deep hatred that white liberals such as Schiff possess toward the Russian people.
American exceptionalism has become a potent drug for white liberals seeking to ease the pain of developments that are far more dangerous to their interests than Donald Trump’s presidency. The lies that buttress the ideology are potently racist and rely upon the demonization of an “other” to boost the white superiority complex of the American Empire. Schiff’s obsession with Russia is driven neither by good intentions nor a fight against a mythical Russia-Trump alliance. Rather, the anti-Russian hysteria of the white liberal class is the byproduct of a declining Empire. Russia’s increasingly assertive role on the world stage just three decades since the Western-aided destruction of the Soviet Union decimated the lives of the Russian people indicates that a political sea change is occurring in the international arena. The Russian government’s promotion of a multi-polar world and its close economic relationship with China threatens to cut the United States off from its monopolistic control over the destinies of nations across the Eurasian and African continents. With U.S. economic prowess on the decline, a militarist approach toward Russia is the last remaining means from which to maintain imperial dominance. And Schiff is the “Pentagon’s man,” a loyal servant of the lords of war whose white liberal fragility is easily manipulated to serve the ends of the Empire.
“The anti-Russian hysteria of the white liberal class is the byproduct of a declining Empire.”
There is a long-standing assumption that white liberalism is the lesser evil to the more fascistic forces that exist in U.S. society. Trump’s victory in the presidential election of 2016 has only intensified the strength of this assumption. At the same time, Trump’s first term as president has exposed how the dangers of white liberal fragility are far reaching and reflect the core rot of U.S. imperialism. White liberalism and its state organ, the Democratic Party, have participated in the decades-long assault on the living standards workers and oppressed people. Thus, the material basis for fascism doesn’t merely reside in the openly white nationalist segment of the U.S. population. White liberals in the establishment are fully committed to American exceptionalism; i.e., the doctrine that positions the United States and all of its whiteness as the world’s enforcer of “democracy” and “human rights.” The Washington Post claims that “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” In reality, the United States is organized to kill democracy wherever it springs and, more often than not, it is white liberals and their allies in the oligarchy jointly pulling the trigger.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News--From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @spiritofho, and on Youtube at The Left Lens with Danny Haiphong.
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