I like this picture. I consider the existence of this armed militia a cause for hope not because I hate white people and certainly not because I want to express white guilt, but because I think it represents a real, sustainable basis for respect. I think it represents a genuine respect because, in my experience, respect exists when you know another person could hurt you. Friendship, in my experience, occurs when you know a person could hurt you but trust that they won’t. All of which brings us to a list of things not present in the NFAC photo.
I don’t see any attempt to lessen suffering, in fact, three people were injured during this protest in accidental gun discharges. I don’t see any appeal to mercy, in fact the spokesman for the march used his platform to make thinly veiled threats against the justice system. I don’t see the sacred lambs of the Abrahamic God or the intersectional lambs of Peggy McIntosh’s dialectical God. I don’t see compassion, I don’t see equality or justice and I don’t see any particular concern with preserving lives. I don’t see the symbolically rich and practically empty stuff so characteristic of the Civil Rights Movement. Which is fine, because none of that stuff is necessary or appropriate.
I also don’t see looting or terrorism. This is important not because looting primarily hurts struggling communities – struggling communities are going to suffer immensely regardless of what happens – and certainly not because property rights matter more than human lives, but because looters are fundamentally submissive. Looters run away when the authorities show up. I don’t think NFAC would.
I see the embrace of power and the wholesome rejection of pity in that NFAC picture. I see a rejection of soft, condescending pity and I see it as a defiant expression of will. I really, really like it. At least, I like it as much as I can like anything connected with the 2020 political mess.
Robert E. Lee, famed Confederate General of the American Civil War, made one of the most insulting arguments I’ve ever seen when he claimed that Virginia was better than Africa for his slaves. He made this argument based on the following principles:
- Virginia had one vice – slavery – and one virtue – Christian morality (equality, pity, charity, humility etc).
- Africa had three vices – slavery, human sacrifice, cannibalism – and no virtues.
- Therefore, Virginia was better for Africans than Africa.
This argument was based on real facts. The Kingdom of Dahomey, in modern Benin on the West Coast of Africa, was the greatest slave catching civilization in history. Around half of the Africans shipped to the New World were captured by Dahoman warriors and/or Dahoman Amazons, branded in Dahoman prisons and sold in Dahoman markets. The captives unsuitable for sale were often sacrificed to the ancestors and eaten.
And here’s the thing, if you’re like Peggy McIntosh and fetishize the reduction of human suffering, Lee was right. If you think that humility or intersectional oppression makes a person morally better, Lee was right. If you are like the Disciple Paul and value peace and pity and holding a moist cloth to the fevered brow of a Christian lamb, Lee’s condescending, infuriating pity was right and good.
I would go so far as to say the only way you can refute Lee’s argument is with a concept of respect or, even more basically, by recognizing the fundamental virtue of potential violence. Friedrich Nietzche gets this absolutely right:
“Of all evil I deem you capable: Therefore I want good from you. Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws.”
A victim of Dahomey was honored with hatred, held responsible for crimes and dignified with fear. A victim of Dahomey was seen as capable of great evil and thus great good. The people degraded by Lee’s pity simply were not. They’d been declawed.
I hate pity. I hate it more than being bullied, assaulted or targeted by conmen. I hate it more than I love safety. I hate it more than I like material comfort and I don’t think I’m alone in any of that. A well-fed poodle on a silken bed is, regardless of how safe or comfortable it becomes, still a plaything. But, perhaps, I ought to stop and explain the differences between pity and sympathy as they seem to me.
Pity is the emotion that follows on the explicit “what a shame” and the implicit “that you exist.” It is the joy in conspicuously showering benevolence on a useless creature. It is the desire to castrate and mangle your victims so that they remain eternally wrapped in cotton under the umbrella of your conspicuous charity.
Sympathy, by contrast, is the desire to see one who is suffering become stronger. It is conditional and comes with the expectation that the one being helped help themselves first and, later, the group at large. It is the desire to see another person grow into a useful ally or a worthy adversary.
I mention all this because academia fetishizes oppression and woke white people like the staff of fivethirtyeight.com fall over each other praising the limitations, failures of courage and emotional incontinence of oppressed athletes because they, consciously or not, are full of pity. If these pornographers of pity, these lovers of poodles and enemies of the ability to do violence succeed; if they make this whole protest/corona/existential-crisis into a discussion about rights or justice or the reduction of suffering, there will be little beyond softer silk in the poodle’s bed. There will be no reverence or fear and the actual problems of race relations in the US will be covered over and smothered yet again.
But there’s hope. There’s quite a lot of hope. There’s hope because, while the militia members might be hated like Kyle Rittenhouse or feared like NFAC, it’s vastly better to be hated or feared than pitied. And it’s awfully damned hard to pity a man with a gun.
Context and Questions:
- Q: Isn’t the presence of armed protesters likely to make the protests even bloodier than they already are? A: It could. As I wrote at length, I would much rather resolve this problem through immigration and sex – that is abandoning and/or undermining ethnicities. However, as long as there are durable racial identities and the immense pressure of the COVID19 plague, productive violence very well might be preferable to pity and the resentment it breeds. The danger is immense in either case.
- Q: Wouldn’t it be better if we disarmed the public? A: At any other time in American history, I would say yes. Ideally, the virtuous ability to do violence would express itself through fists rather than firearms and our militias could fight each other without turning hotheads into corpses. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is president. He admires Xi Xinping’s dictator for life powers, has declared that he will “keep us in suspense” regarding the recognition of election results and has sent anonymous federal agents to kidnap people. Dictators – I’m thinking specifically of South Korean dictator Cheon Du-hwan – are perfectly happy butchering when they get the sense their subjects are more lamb than wolf.
- Q: Couldn’t this blow up into a civil war? Yes, it could. I originally feared it would be a race war but it’s more likely to be a partisan/ideology war. That’s less terrible because partisanship and ideology can be changed while race cannot, but there’s no question things could get unspeakably ugly. Sadly, we brought this on ourselves when we rejected the hugely successful economics of the 40s, 50s and 60s in favor of the precepts of a meth-addicted cult leader, taught young people to embrace their racial heritages and made the 2016 election about melanin and gonads. We made it worse when we allowed freedom ideologues to inflame COVID19 into a uniquely American tragedy. It’s no longer a matter of good and bad options, just varieties of bad.
- Is “systemic racism” really the issue? The fact that “systemic racism” is so squishy, abstract and removed from any individual’s power makes it extremely useful to the sort of person who wishes to righteously self-flagellate without actually changing anything – you know, woke white people. As for the hard statistics, African Americans are 13% of the population, 25% of the police shooting victims, 51% of the violent criminals and 74% of the people featured on local news crime reports. Make of that what you will.
- Won’t it encourage white counter-protesters to arm themselves even further if groups like NFAC gain traction? Yes, it will. The threat of violence is a primarily means by white poor white trash escape the toxic pity of respectable white people and achieve the relatively higher station of despised enemy. I can’t honestly say I want to denigrate white trash – people who were my neighbors and friends in many cases – by demoting them from hated enemy to pity object in the mainstream media. These groups are some of the most likely to escalate a larger conflict, I just don’t know an alternative.
- Won’t these groups undermine peaceful protesters? It doesn’t seem like there are a lot of peaceful protests going on. I’m not sure there ever were. Kyle Rittenhouse, for example, killed two people in the following context: A) His LARPing militia fantasist mother sent her multiple convict son into a riot with an illegal firearm and no training in order to “protect property.” B) Rittenshouse’s obviously illegal firearm possession was ignored by the police because the police are acting more like counter-protesters than police. C) A child molester peacefully protesting against systemic racism chose to intimidate Rittenhouse because Rittenhouse was small, weak and stupid looking. Rittenhouse attempted to run away but a mob of peaceful protesters chased him down. D) One of the peaceful protesters chasing Rittenhouse fired a revolver into the air for god-knows-why, panicking the LARPing idiot boy into shooting the child molester. E) Rittenhouse fell and got the shit beaten out of his dumb ass because, like the stone cold killer he thinks he is, he panicked and face-planted into the concrete. F) Another peaceful protester fresh out of prison for strangling his girlfriend attacked the idiot multiple convict child with a skateboard and got shot for his trouble. G) A third peaceful protester with an illegal firearm waved his revolver around at random until the wannabe militiaman blew his bicep off. This is the sort of thing the media is calling “a mostly peaceful protest” and it is not, in my view, all that worthy of protection. Granted, most of the media is lying in service of justice or freedom ideologies, but we have an awful lot of pictures of things burning at this point. I’d rather deal with a hierarchical and quasi-disciplined militia like NFAC. Thanks to Andrew Valliancourt for straightening out the biased and dishonest news bullshit.
- Won’t armed protesters get innocent people killed? Yes, they almost certainly will. If you want to limit carnage, you should shut down the protests and the counter-protests. Of course, that would simply pressurize the situation for later detonation. Letting people escape middle class woke pity is, from my point of view, more important and less dangerous in the medium run.
- Aren’t armed, ethnic militias and corrupt police systems how those horror stories we learned in history class start? Yes, they are. Not always, though, and not necessarily. For this I can’t say much more than that I’m worried sick about you all. I’m very sorry, but it’s damage control and planning for the aftermath at this point. Fan and shit have already come together.
 The Kingdom of Ashanti and a few others did the same things, just less successfully.
 According to Alexis DeTocqueville, there are two solutions to black/white racial problems. The first, which I wrote about extensively, is integration. The second is segregation. Either one, in my view, will be difficult to accomplish without the capacity to do violence and the ability to replace pity with fear.