The funny thing is people think the CRT discourse is something new. No, this is the same cultural-political fight going back 200+ years. Over the level of political power Black people can have in society. Black people gain something politically, there’s a conservative backlash.
Abolitionist movement — secession.

Reconstruction — jim crow and state sanctioned vigilante violence. lost cause propaganda.

Civil rights/Voting/Immigration — southern strategy, modern gop realignment. tough on crime, conf monuments

Obama — Trump

BLM/Floyd Protests — anti CRT
Each perceived political gain by Black people — who are supposed to be the permanent underclass, as slavery itself was originally codified in the constitution — is responded to with a vicious backlash. Its a 2 steps forward 1 step backwards kind of thing.
So there’s backlash to each move to be more inclusive towards Black political power and cultural perspectives. But each time Black people gain a little bit more, and society becomes more open. Conservatives are slowly losing the culture wars over time, and everyone knows it.
On culture—the conservative position used to be that slavery was good and to be defended. It used to be that segregation was good and to be defended. It used to be that MLK was a villian to be opposed.
Conservatives have to now say slavery and segregation were wrong and they even promote MLK (even if its a twisted version of his words and ideas!). If you could bring a conservative from 100 years, from 200 years ago to modern times, they’d be petrified of our society.
Whereas if you could bring an abolitionist or someone against Jim Crow to modern times they’d be much happier with how things have turned out on the social cultural dimension.
America is increasingly liberal on culture — the backlashes won’t stop that historic movement. Conservatives once — fairly recently — opposed a MLK holiday. Eventually systemic racism (not just individual prejudice) along w racial history will be taught mostly everywhere. In time
We can debate the reasons why conservatives continue to lose the culture wars in the long run (though they win some short term battles). I have argued that the south’s loss in the civil war and the US fighting w the allied powers in ww2 were pivotal for domestic development
Fighting against authoritarian, racial hierarchical regimes in the confederacy and nazi germany helped shape elites perceptions of what america should be. After both wars america codified major new federal laws (and const amendments) which made the us more inclusive
Those laws have proven sticky and impossible to fully rollback, much to the chagrin of conservatives. I argue that the institutional shifts (as a response to wanting to be different than confederates/nazis) also promoted elite cultural biases towards inclusion over the long run
In short this fight over CRT isn’t new is the exact same fight with the same rhetoric as the tea party, as civil rights/integration, as reconstruction. Each backlash uses stuff like “anti-white” or “negro-rule” and basically argues that Black ppl will become dictators over whites
And over the short run conservatives win some of these battles and can gain major political power through backlash. After civil rights passed Republicans won 5-6 of the next Presidential elections. 68-72-80-84-88. But ultimately they couldnt defeat MLK and had to try & co-opt him
It gives me great joy to imagine social conservatives of 100, 200 years past being brought to the future and having to see a version of America that they fought against & failed to prevent. Imagine how painful that would be for them to see that they failed to prevent our success.
Now imagine the next 50. The next 100 years. Its gonna go the same way for modern conservatives.
The fight against multiculturalism and political inclusion in the US was lost in 1865 and 1945. The US — and indeed the rest of the world — is better off for it.

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More from @marcushjohnson

31 Oct
My take on our politics is that demographic change is slowly breaking our society—America was never designed to accommodate non whites with large amounts of political-cultural-economic power. Happening across the west but especially here.
So you get extremely low trust in media and institutions (been falling since the Civil/Voting rights act in the 60s), rampant conspiracy theories (Birtherism, 5G-Covid, Election “fraud”) and political violence (1/6). Its all because of the same thing.
Racial hierarchy is as fundamental to the American experiment as democracy, actually probably way more so. Since it was here long before democracy was. To upset the racial hierarchical norms is, for many, to destroy what America is and represents.
Read 4 tweets
18 Oct
Every country has a ruling, decision making class. And every countru has a founding myth/event/ethos which serves to give that class legitimacy. In the US, that is the story about the founding fathers and their commitment to “freedom,” “liberty,” “equality.”
It is this founding myth from which the US ruling class derives its legitimacy, and thus maintains their power and influence. They rule today because they supposedly maintain these ideals and are the descendants, in blood and ideology, of the founders.
Which obviously means to challenge the narrative of the founders is to challenge the right to rule of the people currently in power. This is a big part of the reason why conservatives fight so hard to protect the narratives surrounding the founders and colonial settlers.
Read 7 tweets
28 Sep
I don’t know how the “Democrats need to stop talking about race” takes still exist. The idea is that it alienates working class whites (sure). But how can they believe refusing to talk about race won’t provoke a backlash of poc/college educated? That we’ll just roll with it?
Its not an unusual or unpopular concept, you hear it from MY, from Shor, etc etc. I think the idea is totally bogus. They can perceive a white backlash to Dems talking about race, but funny how they cannot conceptualize a poc backlash for Dems dropping racial equity.
I also think they dramatically overstate the extent that the white working class can be won back in these highly polarized (because of race) times. Dems aren’t winning back Iowa and Ohio if they start saying Obama and CRT are bad.
Read 13 tweets
24 Sep
Extremism is also relative. Extremists never consider themselves to be so. It is very uncomfortable but important to understand how Nazi Germany was inspired in part by US early racial laws and expansionism.…
Obviously not taught in most schools, it turns the American exceptionalism myth and ethos upside down. It makes people question and the should—how could Nazi Germany’s actions be inspired, even in part, by early American political actors?
Think about it in this way, from the Native American perspective, wasn’t America largely a violent totalitarian regime that could not be trusted? Broken treaties, land theft, genocide?
Read 8 tweets
18 Sep
If you wanted to simplify American history, break it down to its most elementary form, it is a long struggle over the question: “How much power should whites have in society relative to everyone else?” Viewed in that framework and context all events make much more sense.
When you earnestly believe in the ethos, the American myth, about liberty and freedom and egalitarianism and rights you find it hard to understand Trump voters. But when you understand the central question in American history it all makes sense.
Slavery, the genocide of Native Americans, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the New Deal, Civil Rights, the Southern Strategy, Reagonomics, the Obama coalition, the Tea Party, Trumpism. They’re all about the central question in American history.
Read 5 tweets
11 Aug
“By 1860, there were more millionaires (slaveholders all) living in the lower Mississippi Valley than anywhere else in the United States. In the same year, the nearly 4 million American slaves were worth $3.5 billion, making them the largest financial asset in the US economy”
In the modern post slavery America, Mississippi is among the very poorest states in the country. It is also the Blackest state by %, at nearly 38% Black.
Read 4 tweets

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