Franklin and the Coal-Black Saint

A reader sends the following comment, which I would like to share:

I arrived too late to participate in the discussions on your “Where my allegiance lies” article, but some time ago I found a related text that you might find interesting:

The text shows clearly that all this Alt-Right talk about “whites” makes little sense, because, in Franklin’s time, not only Spaniards and Italians weren’t considered white, but neither were the French, the Russians, the Germans (Saxons excepted) or even the Swedes! Apparently, they all belonged to the swarthy races.
As you said so well, Alt-Righters and SJWs seem to be the two heads of the same monster.

Thank God for Catholicism, which saved the Hispanic peoples and Catholic countries in general from this crass type of racism.
A long time ago, after Obama’s first inauguration, I wrote an article about how, a thousand years before, the Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire devoutly knelt before the image of their patron saint, Saint Maurice, who was black as coal, and how, eighteen centuries before Obama, we had our first African pope (and no one bothered to record the exact shade of swarthiness of his skin, because nobody cared about it).

My comment: I remember speaking once with a man who called himself Alt-Right on these very two points. Perhaps he represented the majority of opinion in that camp, perhaps not.

His conclusion, and one which I have since seen repeated, was that Franklin was correct, and that all these races (Spanish, French, Russians, the Germans, Swedes) are also inferior to Whites and should never been permitted into the nation, which was ruined irreparably when they were.

He held special enmity against the Swedes, whom he said were unable to live in America and understand our Founding Fathers’ philosophy of limited government, liberty, equality, and natural rights.

(Ironically, this man also dismissed with contempt the ideals of limited government, equality, and natural rights in no uncertain terms. So I am not clear what his basis might be for objection to Swedes drawing America away from ideals he says America never had and could never have had.)

You see, there is one basic problem with racism and race-tribalism that makes it incoherent.

It is not nationalism. In nationalism, everyone who speaks your language and lives under your laws and shares your culture and who (in America) shares the ideals on which the country is based and (in Europe) shares common ancestry, is a member of your nation.

In racism, while the claim is made that those who share your race, however that is defined, shares your love and loyalty, this claim is obviously and monstrously false. Those the racists hate most are members of their own race who reject their ill-conceived ideology.

Because the hate is the addiction, the hate is the appeal, race-traitors come next under one’s opprobrium, and step by step the tribe rejects more and more half-breeds and ritual impure untouchables until there is no one left but a congregation too small to fill a cathedral. The racist keeps defining more and more people as not belonging properly to the master race. Eventually it gets down to him and his cousins, I suppose, or his immediate family, or perhaps just he himself.

If you point any of these errors in logic to him, or ask him about his lapses in common sense, common courtesy, or common decency, his response is to say that a race war is inevitably coming, for the prophets have prophesied it, and that any questioning now of the dogma he invents and spreads will amplify and extend the horrors of the coming inevitable race war. Which he then goes and promotes, recruiting soldiers to join it and spreading ghastly propaganda to justify it, all while claiming the prospect of race war horrifies him.

In reality, what happened is that this man’s hatred came first. He was looking for a political expression into which to pour it, and racism, slowly at first, but with ever greater vehemence, became his expression of choice.

His conclusion, and one which I have since seen repeated, on the second matter was that the common bond of religion is insignificant. Men of two different races who share the blood and bond of Christ must and should hate each other. Japanese Catholics, for example, have no Catholic culture or belief in common with Portuguese Catholics, because their belief and culture is determined by their bloodline, which is Japanese.

On the other hand, men of two different religions but who share a race, such a Christians and Mohammedans living together in Lebanon, must and do share culture, love and loyalty.

He had the audacity to claim that these beliefs were scientific and modern and rational and well-attested, despite all appearances to the contrary.

Again, I have heard his same ideas repeated, sometimes word for word, in many places, including on this blog, by people who call themselves Alt Right. So, it may not be universal among them, but it is not some idiosyncratic opinion unrelated to their mainstream.

Neither counter-argument strikes me as being even slightly honest nor open minded. I am reminded of when an abortion-lover is told there is no biological difference between late-term babies and newborn, he will simply conclude, not that abortion is premature infanticide and therefore illicit, that but infanticide is tardy abortion, and therefore licit.

Logic only shows incompatibility or contradiction between two ideas a man might hold, not which one should be embraced, and which replaced.

A logical argument cannot convince a man to change his mind about the one fixed idea he uses as the yardstick to measure all other ideas.