In the February issue, “My Country—White or Wrong,” Chilton Williamson and Scott Richert criticize white nationalism. I write in reply as someone who has been called a “white nationalist”—whatever that term may mean.
First, Mr. Williamson’s sensibilities are so close to my own that his critique may be based on a misunderstanding. He writes of a “sudden access of fury” at the “new semi-Asiatic London” full of “barbarians” who did not create and cannot appreciate the city’s cultural riches. How does Mr. Williamson know they are barbarians? Because they are not Europeans, not white. Mr. Williamson is furious that aliens are inheriting a great metropolis that reflects 2,000 years of struggle and achievement by Europeans. His fury—and his willingness to express it—is a clear expression of the racial consciousness common to “white nationalists.”
Mr. Williamson also writes that he is “equally at home in Italy, Britain, France, and America,” to which he would surely add Germany, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Canada. What do these places have in common?
As an example of what he opposes, Mr. Williamson cites an unnamed internet “white nationalist”: “The Italians are not really a white people.” I cannot find this sentence on the web, and to set up an absurdity as a tenet of “white nationalism” is to attack a straw man. He also disapproves of “white nationalists” because “if the Christian defense of immigration could be proven to have been divinely inspired, white nationalists would persist in opposing it anyway.” If the Christian argument for gun control were proven to be divinely inspired, would Mr. Williamson hand in his rifles?
Mr. Williamson writes that “The conservative instinct for national and cultural self-preservation is a profoundly human one, essential to every society and to civilization itself.” It is precisely because the British have not heeded this instinct that there is a “new semi-Asiatic London.” Why oppose those who work toward a European, pre-barbarian London?
Mr. Williamson notes bravely that “Islam and the West are wholly incompatible.” Haitians, Angolans, Cambodians, Chinese, Guatemalans, and Bolivians are not Muslims, but are they any less incompatible with the West? And are not people from white countries fully compatible?
Mr. Richert begins by trying to reconcile the advantages of diversity and unity, and writes that “diversity” in the United States has gone far beyond a dash of seasoning: “it’s a cup of MSG poured on top of a Big Mac.” As anyone who reads a newspaper knows, the most damaging and disruptive “diversity” is racial diversity. Those who want less of it, both in their own lives and, if possible, in the country, are normal, healthy people.
Mr. Richert as much as acknowledges that diversity chokes on race: His prime example of healthy diversity is the “Christian civilization of Europe in the Middle Ages”! The people he calls white nationalists are allies, not enemies.
Mr. Richert writes that men fight for family, home, and nation, whereas “white nationalists” expect them to fight for a bloodless abstraction called “whiteness.” Mr. Richert is wrong. People who understand race care deeply about the survival of a specific people, because everything they love is grounded in that people.
As Mr. Williamson sensed in London, a civilization is carried forward only by the biological heirs to the people who created that civilization. Those of us who act on this truth are not victims of an abstraction. We care passionately about the survival of a distinct and beautiful people who created a distinct and beautiful culture that first appeared in Europe and has taken root wherever Europeans have settled in large numbers.
Finally, Mr. Richert and Mr. Williamson should beware of a luxury unique to whites: the belief that race is not central to individual and group identity. Whether we think of ourselves as “white” or not, that is how others see us. They have strong racial identities, and they promote their interests at our expense.
Twenty years ago, Chronicles columnist Samuel Francis put it in the starkest possible terms [eds.: in a speech at Mr. Taylor’s American Renaissance conference in 1994]:
[W]hen the self-declared enemies of the white race define themselves in racial terms, only our own definition of ourselves in those terms can meet their challenge. If and when that challenge should triumph and those enemies come to kill us as the Tutsi people have been slaughtered in Rwanda, they will do so not because we are “Westerners” or “Americans” or “Christians” or “conservatives” or “liberals” but because we are white.
Mr. Williamson Replies:
A few points in reply to Mr. Taylor.
First, barbarian for the Greeks meant simply “foreigner,” not “nonwhite.” Barbarians can be of all colors—including white. I’ve known plenty of white ones in my time.
Second, I am conscious of myself first as Roman Catholic, secondly as British-American, and lastly as white. I’m proud to belong to the latter two categories in the sense that I respect my ancestors and the culture that produced them—and because white and British-American are what I am, and no sane and self-respecting person is ashamed of what he is, unless it be a moral monster of some sort.
Third, the sentence I quoted about Italians not being white was taken from a prominent website, one I imagine Mr. Taylor consults every day. Knowing him as I do to be the perfect gentlemen, I’m unwilling to conclude he believes I made it up.
Fourth, my response to the confident assertion that I’d be equally at home in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Canada is, no, I wouldn’t. Latin European culture is ingrained in me, and in temperament I am at least half Latin. I nearly married a Spanish refugee (a very beautiful and wealthy one, as it happened) from Castro’s Cuba when I was a young man.
Fifth, if gun ownership were proven to be against Catholic teaching—“a matter of faith and morals”—I’d sink all my guns in the Seminoe Reservoir tomorrow.
Sixth, I don’t oppose Britishers who seek to keep London, London. I do believe they have a moral claim on what is theirs against the aggression of foreigners bearing different religions and cultures, irrespective of their different skins. The fact that skin color and culture frequently coincide is of secondary importance to me.
—Chilton Williamson, Jr.
Mr. Richert Replies:
Mr. Taylor misrepresents my discussion of diversity, which follows (as I noted in my article) that of Russell Kirk, who argued that true diversity is a conservative principle. Indeed, Dr. Kirk made that argument in a context that Mr. Taylor would not like: The drive for uniformity, he noted, is a liberal impulse, for liberals “do not aspire to make the human person truly free, under God; their aspiration is to make us into identical units in a monolithic society.” Against the liberal impulse of Mr. Taylor, this conservative agrees with Dr. Kirk: “I think that variety and growth—not equality and uniformity—are the characteristics of a high culture.”
Kirk’s philosophical and historical understanding of the opposition between equality and true diversity (expressed in his 1963 essay “Why I Am a Conservative”) is alien to the white-nationalist mindset, yet it explains why Dr. Kirk not only opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but, unlike his erstwhile colleagues at National Review, never renounced that opposition, though he lived 30 more years. As I noted in my article, the obsession with race as a unifying principle, whether on the left or on the putative right, is not, as white nationalists think, a return to pre-modernity but in fact thoroughly modern, one of the excesses of the Enlightenment rationalism that has, over the past several centuries, gradually stripped man of much of what makes life worth living: his faith, his family, his sense of place.
As for Mr. Taylor’s “Finally,” if he feels compelled to reduce his understanding of himself to his skin color just because people he does not like, and who do not like him, have reduced themselves to theirs, I can only echo Bertie Wooster: “You can, I suppose, but what a hell of a life!”
—Scott P. Richert