Trump abandoned the GOP's traditional dog whistle for a megaphone—a successful strategy, and even more destructive
By Brittney Cooper
Yet, we did not require or expect conservative white male politicians and religious leaders to issue statements after the Planned Parenthood shooting affirming that Christian social values are anti-violent and condemning the actions of the shooter as an egregious mischaracterization of Christian values and principles. We did not ask all white men to feel shame over the actions of the shooter. The myth of white individualism absolves white people of a collective reckoning with the ways that white fundamentalism breeds violence against people of all colors and social backgrounds.
This is why we must begin to understand whiteness as a kind of violent fundamentalism, one at the heart of the American project. Fundamentalism is always a struggle over values and an attempt by those who feel marginalized to order the universe through a set of moral absolutes that not-so-coincidentally also concede power to their particular worldview. Donald Trump is not particularly religious, despite his meeting with Black pastors. But he deploys whiteness as ideology with the fundamentalist zeal of the worst kinds of religious zealots and proselytizers. His rhetoric about protecting the U.S.-Mexico border—rhetoric that has been unfortunately taken up by two misguided Black female Trump enthusiasts—is just one more example of the kind of power laden demands for purity that adhere to fundamentalist ideologies. Whiteness as a fundamentalist ideology frames all others as enemies of the project of white supremacy. It authorizes violence against all who divest from the project of whiteness. It uses a narrative of marginalization and the need to regain power (to take America back) to justify aggressive and violent acts towards non-white groups. And it values and seeks to perpetuate whiteness as a way of life.
Until we dismantle white fundamentalism, no people of color will be safe. All fundamentalist belief systems view other belief systems in zero-sum terms. Evangelical Christianity believes that the truer it is, the less true every other belief system is. White/American fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism also engage each other in zero-sum geopolitical terms. They will be locked into an endlessly violent battle of wills. To make it more plain, on the homefront, white Americans respond so strongly to acts of Islamic terror and with such fear, because they recognize this same capacity for fundamentalist rage in themselves. In a zero-sum battle of fundamentalism, either we are invading their shores or they are invading ours. Game recognize game.