In 1964, Pres. Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on poverty.” Six years later, Pres. Richard Nixon declared war on a new domestic enemy, drugs. Now a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president has identified a new scourge that he pledges to fight if elected.
That candidate is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who while speaking at the Young Leader’s Conference in Atlanta on Saturday, promised to “go to war” against white nationalism and racism.
“I’m Jewish. My family came from Poland. My father’s whole family was wiped out by Hitler and his white nationalism. Too many people have fought over the years. Too many people have died against racism to let it resurface and flourish in America,” he said.
“We will go to war with nationalism and racism in every aspect of our lives,” he added.
“When we combat white nationalism, and when we combat racism, we are going to use all the laws in our power,” he further said.
Sanders also made it clear that he would even use executive orders in his “war.”
Here is a video of his comments posted to Twitter:
We will go to war with White Nationalism. pic.twitter.com/HVtDI0eweQ
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 17, 2019
As is clear from Sanders’s remarks, by racism he means only “white-on-black racism.” You might wonder how Sanders, who is himself white, manages to avoid becoming a casualty of his own war. The answer resides in the fact that he is a Democrat who self-identifies (better still!) as a socialist. As two New York Times writers recently asserted, white nationalism and racism are synonymous with the labels “Republican” and “conservative,” so Sanders and his ilk are in the clear for now. (RELATED: On New York Times’s new ‘racism’ theme, Americans should be the ‘Unteachables.’)
But there is a deeper problem, and that is the growing vagueness of the terms racism and white nationalism (alt, white supremacy) through overuse. As LU’s J.E. Dyer recently noted:
The charge of “racism!” has been a convenient shorthand for silencing opposition, deployed almost exclusively by the political left for the last 30 years. But it has become such a reflexive allegation that it has lost all meaning for good-faith political discourse.
The use of the racism label reached the height of absurdity in mid-July when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez branded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a racist for criticizing her and her “Squad.”
LU’s Howard Portnoy adds that white supremacy, which has become a substitute for the increasingly more meaningless racism, has also lost much of its legitimacy.
Bernie Sanders’s chances of becoming the next president are slim. But the “war on racism” he has proposed is a dangerous notion that is likely to be picked up by other Democrats running for important positions in government. This should make all Americans afraid — very afraid.