Throwing his weight into the critical race theory freakout, Pat Robertson said CRT is bad because it claims that “the people of color have to rise up and overtake their oppressors and then – having gotten the ‘whip handle,’ if I can use that term – then to instruct their white neighbors how to behave. Now that’s critical race theory.” It isn’t, but it does show why equality freaks Republicans out.
The standard take is that when you’ve tasted superiority, equality feels like oppression. Suppose Harry’s stay-at-home wife Lorraine gets a job, one she really likes. She’s always had dinner on the table when Harry gets home; now Harry has to cook something himself or eat leftovers. Lorraine’s always done all the cleaning; now Harry either helps or he sits in a mess. It’s fair that both partners divide the work, but to Harry something’s been taken away. And it’s not like he deserved it, is it? Where does Lorraine get off changing the terms of their marriage?
There’s a lot of truth to that, but not the whole truth. Robertson expresses a large chunk of the rest — that if white people don’t stay in charge, they’ll face worse than equality. Black Americans will seize the “whip handle” and start giving orders to white people. OMG, they’ll treat white America the way we’ve treated black America for so long!
Admittedly believing that Robertson believes anything he’s saying is possibly foolish. Still, I’ve seen similar things online. Like a 67 year old white woman who’s convinced if not for The Former Guy becoming president, blacks would have launched a race war. Obama’s presidency scared her with the possibility of race war more than anything since “the Rosa Parks years.” An article I read about 15 years ago (no links, alas), says that many white Americans are convinced we can’t exist without hierarchy: either white people are at the top or black people are. They’re out to seize the whip handle.
For some conservatives, it’s inconceivable that black Americans want equality rather than dominance. That they don’t think anyone should wield the whip handle. It’s the same logic by which so many sexists are convinced feminists want to rule, not simply receive equality. That would imply They are better than Us — that can’t be true! As someone put it online earlier this year, the right-wing Golden Rule is “Assume others will treat you the way you want to treat them.” They value dominance; they’d love to bring back Jim Crow and 1950s style sexism. So obviously the other side must want a version of the same thing.
This logic explains why conservatives are forever freaking out that The Left is going to take over, crush all dissent, rig election and oppress them (we’re refusing to date Trumpers, that proves we want to destroy them!). Sure, some of it’s bullshit to whip up the Republican base, but it’s exactly what they’re doing: laying the groundwork to throw out elections they don’t win. Legalizing physical attacks on protesters. Many of them want America to be a white nation so it’s no surprise they fear immigrants are going to replace them. I’m sure Newt Gingrich, quoted at the link, doesn’t believe that — he’s always been a lying shit — but lots of people who listen to him do.
At times I can almost laugh at their capacity for projection. But the consequences of the Anti-American Party’s fears are ugly, and they’re only getting uglier.