Rudyard Kipling wrote his fawning poem “The White Man’s Burden” in response to America’s takeover of the Philippines after winning the Spanish-American War in 1899. Now, to be fair to Kipling himself, he came from a particular time and, in his case, from a very particular place (he was born in British India in December 1865) that informed who he was, how he thought and what he wrote. What Kipling gives a modern audience is the perfect articulation of “white attitude” toward everyone they consider “less than white”. Kipling’s poem perfectly captures how European colonialists viewed those they were colonizing: “Your new-caught sullen peoples, half devil and half child.” Half devil and half child. Now, without alerting them that you’re doing it, look at the nearest Republican. Observe how they look at non-Republicans (that includes Republicans not like them). Do the words “half devil and half child” go “ding-ding-ding!” inside your head?
That’s a Republican feeling “the white man’s burden” right down to his mitochondria. This madness is that deeply embedded in who Republicans are. It’s why – even now – they still stick that “R” next to their name. Consider what Trumpism has done to the Republican brand. Consider how reluctant Republicans were and are to really criticize Russia and Putin. Like they knew there was some line they didn’t dare cross. Vladimir Putin wears “the white man’s burden” around his neck like a holy relic. That’s why Steven Bannon loves him so! Bannon is an uber-Christian. So is Putin. They both exemplify the most dangerous aspect of monotheism – that it gives powerful egomaniacs a platform to do maximum damage.
Guys like Bannon and Putin – and every single televangelist – walk around convinced that they have a “special” relationship with God. They believe this insight into the wants and desires of the “creator of the universe” makes whatever comes out of their mouth more meaningful than whatever comes out of yours. This is self-delusional horse shit, of course. Hell, any moron can claim to be God’s chosen spokesperson – and plenty of morons do! But, a moron with power is dangerous because they’re a powerful moron. The thing is, these morons stopped believing IN God eons ago and started believing that THEY were and ARE GOD. Don’t believe me? Watch this video for two seconds and tell me Kenneth Copeland doesn’t believe he himself is the creator of the universe. Bannon believes he’s God. Take that to the bank and prepare to get rich. Putin also believes he’s God.
The Republican Party has a massive problem on its hands; it’s now got Putin’s DNA all over it. As I regularly remind the world, we can pinpoint June 25, 2016 as the date where the Republican Party’s leadership clearly knew that the man they were about to nominate to be their candidate to be President of the United States was a grave national security threat because of his relationship with Vladimir Putin. They chose to keep the fact that current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy thought “there’s two people Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” a secret rather than share this concern with the FBI. McCarthy wasn’t joking when he said it (that was McCarthy’s explanation the ONE TIME the news media asked him about this rather odd assertion about their about-to-be candidate for POTUS). Subsequent events PROVE that he wasn’t. That means the question remains UNANSWERED…
The GOP’s leadership knew of Trump’s relationship with Putin and they accepted it. They never ever chose to question it or end it because Putin’s agenda with Trump was Putin’s agenda with them. The Republican leadership didn’t “stumble” into a relationship with a war criminal, some of them sought it out because they saw common purpose: the end of the American experiment in self-government.
What Putin wants is what the GOP wants. Think about how true that is! And for what? What “God” are these people all serving?
Well, money… power… what other gods do greedy, power mad pigs need? Ever notice how the rich have it in their heads that they rich because they deserve to be? As if they “worked for” every penny they now sit on… as if some divine force wanted them to be richer than rich and who were they to disagree?
Money + Power = Privilege
It’s just math. And, once a person tastes privilege, it’s a hard taste to give up. Especially to people you think are less than you. Racism loves riding shotgun with privilege – like Bonnie and Clyde. Except money and privilege do their bank robbing wearing fancy suits. In the waning years of Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” – the wet dream of white aspiration – the Right Wing Money (the Kochs, the Mercers) saw the diversified handwriting on America’s wall: the days of white cultural hegemony in America were numbered. But they were not going to simply cede power to the great, unwashed masses.
Instead, while nitwits like Newt Gingrich declared culture war on the rest of us, the Right Wing Money declared war on our democracy and drew up a battle plan to keep power in their hands for as long as possible – if not even forever. The point of the exercise was to, in essence, use the rule of law to destroy the rule of law. It really was the horror movie phone call coming from inside the house. As they surveyed the battlefield – our three branches of government, the Right Wing Money understood what battles it could win, what they shouldn’t waste their time with – and what they should capture as soon as possible.
Their calculus broke down like this: the House of Representatives – because it’s always running for re-election – is simply too mercurial. It can be useful as a noisemaker in bad times and, in good times, as the pipsqueak who leaps in to start kicking the guy who was already down and incapacitated. So – they wrote off the House. The Senate however, they assumed they could control in perpetuity because the Senate is so heavily weighted in their favor by design. Say, ever wonder why there are two Dakotas (were there too many Dakotans for one Dakota)? Why is Idaho a separate state from Montana or Wyoming? As historian Heather Cox Richardson points out in her excellent “How The South Won The Civil War”, former Confederates fled west after the Civil War, taking their racism and desire to keep slavery going with them.
Manifest Destiny and slavery are cousins. The Electoral College has their DNA too. As does the structure of the US Senate. These things have all been asserted or manipulated by white, Christian men not because they loved the democratic ideal and wanted to see it flower in its full magnificence but because they wanted to squash that flower before it ever really could flower. Slavery and democracy are mutually exclusive propositions. They cannot co-exist; they’re two kids fighting with guns and knives in the back seat of the family car while it careens down the freeway. That our founders tried to force them to co-exist was white arrogance.
But then, our founders wrote “All men are created equal” but didn’t actually “mean it”. They meant “all men” but they didn’t mean ALL men. They meant only white, Christian, land-owning men who looked like them. Those are the “all men” who are “created equal” in their eyes and minds. That is the whole point of “originalism” – to tie America in perpetuity to the great idea poorly executed in our founding documents. That poor execution was entirely because of slavery and our perverse need to accommodate it.
Slavery is just more “white man’s burden”. So was “Manifest Destiny”. So was every Republican platform of the last fifty years until Donald Trump arrived on the scene and tossed the whole idea of a “platform” (having buggered it completely in 2016 by making their one change to the GOP’s platform a commitment to corrupting Ukraine on Russia’s behalf). Oh, wait – did I just say “Russia”?
Strange how everything ties together, isn’t it?
The GOP what they were doing when they hitched their wagon to Trump knowing his wagon was firmly hitched to Putin – which it still is. What started as a craven refusal to share power (outright racist, “white men know better” posturing) has “flowered” like a mushroom cloud of awfulness into outright TREASON.
White men have no burden. That’s the cruel irony. White men are everyone else’s burden – just as they always have been. For simplicity’s sake though, let’s put it this way: the GOP – and it’s treasonous attachment to Putin – those are the “new & improved” “white man’s burden” – his obligation to himself and the world. The world doesn’t have to accept white largesse however. We’re entitled to say “no thank you”. Or “please go away”. Or “Hey, look – I’ll call a cop if you don’t get off my property!”
White man get that last one especially. They used to think of it as their “burden”.