White Anxiety: a cancer on democracy
On Tuesday, July 19, Nicole Wallace, former Communications Director for former President George Bush mentioned Trump’s name over twenty times in a period of three minutes. The occasion was an announcement of sorts: MSNBC, Wallace’s cable network and platform for her daily televised “White House Report” had received news of the names of the witnesses who will be giving their account of the former President’s involvement in the events of January 6.
Wallace’s tone and demeanor one could describe as giddy. Unfortunately, her audience was deprived a “Trump-o-meter” record of how many times she and her contributors mentioned ‘Trump.’ Or ‘criminal,’ in the same sentence.
Less than half of America will be watching the testimony scheduled for 8:00pm EDT, Thursday July 21. Appreciated by this observer is that America has other things to do than watch “democracy on trial.”
And there are better opportunities for evening cable entertainment. Yet, let’s pause and reflect on a connection here: there is well over half of the more than half that won’t be watching the J6 Committee Hearing Thursday evening that acknowledge the events of January 6 never happened. Or certainly ‘never happened’ like anyone, who happened to be there, could describe.
This is troubling.
Mentioning Trump’s name, positioning Trump’s involvement, asserting Trump’s criminality, doesn’t help convince this group, rather reinforces this group’s steadfastness in the fiction that Trump should be America’s President.
This is ‘doubly troubling.’ For not to acknowledge this phenomenon reinforces the sociopathy, re-emboldens and supports this group’s anti-democracy resolve, further complicates a reckoning.
Consider this is akin to white folk reinventing a ‘Reconstruction-like’ myth: America can heal without white anxiety on trial, in the witness stand. We can go home thinking the healing, repairing work is done.
We can turn to another cable channel.
In Chicago my present city of residence stands a multi-story hotel/retail/condominium complex, nestled riverside a few blocks from the center of Chicago’ Loop. On a nearby bridge pedestrians take selfies in front of a two-story high signature on the building — TRUMP. Once a popular pastime when Trump was President, and increasing a bit during his two impeachment trials, the selfie picture-taking has ceased. There is talk of impending city orders to remove the signature. (1)
The TRUMP organization didn’t fund or risk assets in building and selling space in the structure. The TRUMP organization receives a fee for the use of “their brand.”
Likewise, Trump did not invent “Stop the Steal,” (2). Trump did not invent the Republican Party. Trump conflated the two, adding his name to this infrastructure of white anxiety.
That’s what’s on trial: does America accept and condone this anxiety?
Consider America’s reluctance to remove handguns and AR-15s. America is fortunate that the TRUMP organization overlooked branding these.
2-Charles Homans, “How ‘Stop the Steal’ Captured the American Right,” NYTimes, July 19, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/19/magazine/stop-the-steal.html?referringSource=articleShare