This is a good twitter thread from Kay Whitlock:
There is an interesting set of narratives that underpins the populist project in North America. Wedge politics has always been about stoking fear in an unreal other (there is a campaign ad for a Black Republican running for Congress that shows him holding an AR-15 rifle and threatening to empty the clip at 5 “Democrats in white hoods” as Ku Klux Klan members run through his back yard. I’m obviously not linking to it, but there you go.)
The reason for this is that a wedge issue like abortion or gay rights or immigration is easy to paint with the brush of “someone is coming to get you” and it gets people out to the polls to pull a lever or vote against a policy proposal and also elect the ones who support the populist position. This is an old game, perfected in the early 2000s by Karl Rove in the US and aided by Big Data and polling analytics and now Facebook and twitter algorithms that can delivered hand crafted artisnal and bespoke fear, right to your eyes.
But any time there is a “boogy man” we know that the cipher itself is a screen for projection and what is interesting is that North American populists project a very interesting set of fears onto their boogeymen.
- “Immigrants are invading”
- “Our way of life is under attack”
- “Your children are not safe”
- “The government will seize your property”
- “The elites are sexual predators”
- “They want to outlaw our religion.”
- “Your freedom of movement is being taken away”
- There is even talk on the extreme right of “white genocide”
Let’s be clear. These are projections and deliberately provocative statements. We see these sentiments in the populist right in both Canada and the United States and these fears are constantly stoked, providing a toxic breeding ground for draconian policy that, contrary to the calls for freedom, are beginning to issue draconian laws. I think they land with people, because they recognize that these statements mirror the realities of what colonial practice has been here. These statements are a deep and complicated truth about white supremacy culture that are used to deflect responsibility for colonization and direct them at “the other.”
Now North American culture has a very hard time coming nto terms with the broken treaties, genocide and theft of land that has enabled the countries of this hemisphere to be established and have allowed settler cultures in many places to amass tremendous wealth and prosperity. But every one of the wedge issue tropes above has been, or still is, colonial government policy in this place. In fact, just last week the Supreme Court of the United States issued a shocking decision on Tribal sovereignty.
We have to come to terms with colonization. Until we do, it will continue to infect our cultural veins with guilt fear and shame that will continue to drive a toxic mix of fascism and white supremacy in policy and in the civic sphere.