Thursday, June 03, 2021


The American Mind, a publication of the right-wing Claremont Institute, has just posted the text of a speech by J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy and, if his luck holds out, a future proto-fascist U.S. senator from Ohio. The speech was delivered last month as the keynote address at Claremont's “What to Do About Woke Capital?” conference.

Vance's views are right-wing populist: He wants regular Americans to be able to live middle-class lives on one generous paycheck, but he also wants Americans to be force-fed "the traditions of our country," as Republicans define them. He speaks in consecutive sentences about "the assault on our history and our schools" and about "the right to speak openly and participate meaningfully in this democratic society of ours," as if his unabashed desire to suppress the teaching of America's racist history isn't a free-speech issue at all.

Vance blames "woke capital" for funding what he glibly refers to as "the Black Lives Matter movement that destroyed many of our towns and cities last summer." (It is an article of faith on the right that the entire movement is responsible for the property damage that happened during some of those demonstrations, and that that vandalism destroyed entire cities, a belief that makes perfect sense to Fox News viewers who never set foot in any of those cities, but would be baffling to residents of those cities who continue to lead happy and peaceful lives.) Vance offers a sinister conspiracy theory for why one corporation, Amazon, backs BLM:
... Jeff Bezos [is] one of the largest funders of the Black Lives Matter movement, to the tune of millions of dollars. Now who benefits most when small businesses on Main Street are destroyed? Who wants to see their competitors unable to deliver goods and services to people so they get it delivered in the Amazon box? Jeff Bezos. There is a direct connection between woke capital and the plunder that’s happening in our society today. The people who are invested in destroying America via our corporate class are also getting rich from it. This is an important piece of the puzzle to understand.
Vance wears nice suits and hobnobs with swells, but if he seriously believes that Jeff Bezos gave money to Black Lives Matter (as well as the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and other social justice organizations) in the conscious hope that BLM would use the cash to riot, and thus put small brick-and-mortar Amazon competitors out of business -- something Amazon can do much more efficiently and bloodlessly with algorithms -- then Vance is as much of a crackpot as your right-wing uncle who thinks there are microchips in the vaccines.

Vance, the great believer in "the right to speak openly and participate meaningfully in this democratic society of ours," wants it to be unlawful for a corporation to be anti-racist.
I think it’s important to go after the human resources bureaucracy. If you are actively teaching racism in American schools, in American corporations, if you’re creating a hostile work environment because you have to tell everybody that they need to deconstruct their privilege, or they need to sacrifice or repent of their whiteness, then you are committing what should be a violation of the law in this country, and people should be able to sue you. We have used the human rights bureaucracy to impose Critical Race Theory on our corporate class. We could use it to enforce the opposite. Again, we just have to be willing to use the power that’s been given to us and go after these companies where it actually hurts.
But does he just want to use new laws and lawsuits to fight "woke capital." Or does he also want to use guns?
It may not be as bad as it was in the 1860s, but we’re all going through a fiery trial. The people in this room are the people who are going to be at the vanguard of the conservative movement that actually fights back against our enemies instead of just taking it. Because if our enemies are using guns and bazookas, we damn well better fight back with more than wet noodles. We need to use the same means if we’re actually going to win this fight. And I’m not in this to lose, I’m in this to win.
I think he means this metaphorically. But if he believes that "woke corporations" are deliberately funding riots, then his reference to "guns and bazookas" might be quite literal.

Either way, it's meant to stir the blood of his listeners, who'd like to believe that their resentments, grievances, and revenge fantasies are the noble dreams of true patriots. They'd think it was awesome if they could kill their opponents and be praised for it -- or at least if someone could, and they could benefit, and watch.

No comments: