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Affirmative Action and Helter Skelter: The through-line from Charlie Manson to the Woke White Liberal
Epistemic Status: stoned rant while half watching a Christmas movie. TLDR: Manson's insane racial theories were based on the prophecy of a great racial war, the whites would lose and be exterminated by the Blacks, the Blacks would find themselves incapable of ruling the world and pass power back to the surviving whites in the Manson family. Woke upper class whites who support affirmative action have the same beliefs, only instead of surviving in a giant underground city in Death Valley, they will hide behind wealth and class and ivory tower qualifications.
If you don't know the story of the Manson Family, I highly recommend Karina Longworth's podcast on the topic. It's very good, highly listenable, fairly objective, and gets into a lot of the cultural setting especially around Hollywood. If you want to hear the conspiracy takes, Chaos is extremely good and very extensive, but comes to no conclusions, even the author doesn't know what happened. (It also pairs well with Family of Secrets to follow JFK rabbit holes)
What a lot of people don't realize about Manson, that I think a study like Longworth's makes clear, is that Charles Manson's manipulations of the young women in the Family were mainly a witchy 60s psychedelic take on traditional mid-century Black pimping techniques. The kind of stuff Iceberg Slim wrote about, which is also a book I recommend. Manson manipulated young runaways into sleeping with who he told them to when he told them to, acquired male hangers-on by leveraging sexual access to his young female runaways. The male family members who worked and fought for him, drug suppliers who provided him with acid and speed, and rich men who provided him with housing and money and recording opportunities were all really just interested in fucking the Manson girls. A poorer, dirtier gentile Epstein with a guru bent.
Part of his act was this big Helter Skelter prophecy, much of which was a racial ideology that inherent white superiority will out. Manson, who spent much of his life in prisons and reform institutions, hated Blacks viscerally. He thought them animals, but physically superior and ferocious animals. The diminutive Manson was a frequent target of assaults and rapes in juvenile facilities as a teenager, many by Black inmates. He would famously carve a Swastika into his forehead, and join the Aryan Nation in prison after the Family trials; most thought this was a departure from popular portrayals as a peace and love hippy, but that kind of semi-mystical white supremacism was already the Family's ideological base.
Manson saw the racial conflicts of the 1960s and used that as the apocalypse that his followers would be protected from by following his teachings. He taught that a great racial war was coming, Helter Skelter, that the United States would break down into civil war over treatment of minorities, and that ultimately the militant Blacks would exterminate the white race, both the liberals and the conservatives. The only surviving whites would be the Manson Family, hidden in a bottomless pit/hidden city in Death Valley. The victorious Blacks would be unable to rule a sophisticated society without whites, and discovering the surviving whites they would gratefully pass power back to Manson and his followers, who would rule the new world. It was an insane fantasy, peddled to drug addled teenagers to explain why they should follow this shaggy ex-con who fed them acid and sodomized them. Whites were so superior to Blacks that even after the majority of Whites were exterminated, the handful of special white survivors would rule the world. Subtext: it is good that the Blacks will destroy all of white straight society for us, clearing out the dead wood so that we noble enlightened whites can rule. Stop me if this feels familiar.
A lot of online rightists find it insane that any white people support affirmative action. White students are evenly split on affirmative action, despite being its putative victims. This support only increases as one reaches more selective schools, where affirmative action is harshest in action. Why is this? Because a liberal white student at Harvard Law, like the Manson family, believes so firmly and mystically in his own superiority that no white loss in a racial conflict can rattle him. He believes in his superiority as a talented white kid as firmly as he believes in gravity. He is one of the Great and the Good, his talent got him here, giving tithes to those inferior to him will only enhance his stature. After all, if I'm a white kid with a 165 LSAT who can't get into a T14, every 160 LSAT Black kid who gets in is a spot that could have been mine, I coulda been a contenda if only things were different. But if I already got in, if I'm confident that my 179 LSAT is such that I always will get in to whatever I want, then I'd rather a less qualified kid got in than a more qualified one. If you're trying to get into a class of 800, ever non-merit spot is a spot you lose, I go from having 800 chances to get in to 600 chances to get in. If I'm already in a class of 800, every non-merit spot is a kid who isn't competing with me anymore for the top spot, I go from competing to be 1/800 to competing to be 1/600. Let the Blacks push out the whites and the Asians, the Blacks won't be able to compete with me anyway. If we're all at a firm together, my pedigree and my talent are worth more the fewer people exist with my pedigree and my talent. Affirmative action at top schools is a way to narrow the field of actual competitors from that school.
This is Manson warmed over, the parallels are striking, true white supremacy is the absolute faith that talent resides in the white and that talent will out, the beliefs that so many of my white classmates had after three beers. Let the race war happen, let the Blacks destroy the unenlightened whites, and at the end the enlightened whites will rule because they will be the only alternative left. This is woke racism, let less talented kids get in to competitive schools, it just makes the real spots that much more competitive. The more of the real competition is eliminated, the easier it will be for me. Rather than hiding in a bottomless pit in Death Valley, they believe they will hide in the ivory towers, too talented and too connected to be dislodged by unfair policies. Keep just enough of a meritocracy, and the really talented kids will succeed and have interest in changing the status quo to help those below them, and the less talented kids who fail under the fakakta meritocracy probably aren't talented enough to make a difference anyway. The great and the good will always be on the side of the status quo as long as the critical mass of talented kids are hoovered up.
They might find this strategy works less effectively than they think it will. Like Hezekiah in Isaiah 39:8, to whom in was prophesied that his sons would be eunuchs in a foreign court, and nonetheless replied that the Lord's prophecy was good for there would be "peace and truth in my days." Apres moi, le deluge. Their talent is less of a protection than they think it is. The affirmative action kids at my schools often blossomed just as well once they got there, the dirty secret isn't that AA lets in less talented kids, but that admissions criteria are mostly a farce anyway when it comes to real life talent. The white kids that got in are mostly just as good as the kids who didn't five years down the line.
The democrats aren't the real racists, you can't beat universalism with slightly-different-universalism, and progressives support AA mostly out of a genuine (even if incorrect, confused, or inverted) desire to help historically-oppressed black people. People who couldn't get into harvard still support affirmative action at harvard!
I've said this before but I'm going to keep saying it. Whether it's men in white hoods setting fire to minority neighborhoods in 1920 or men in black hoodies setting fire to minority neighborhoods in 2020 the Democratic party is and always has been the party of the lynch mob.
Whether it's "Jim Crow" or "Safe Spaces" the Democrat party is and always has been the party of segregation.
I suspect that if you were to ask progressives who believe that AA is necessary, why is it necessary? a good chunk of them would reply with something about "systemic inequality" and how blacks are not going to succeed on their own merits.
I don't know what your definition of racism looks like, but all of that sounds pretty damn "racist" to me.
By "Democrats aren't the real racists," OP obviously meant current Democrats, or, really, given the subject at hand, liberals. it is common knowledge that, decades ago, Democrats, or at least Southern Democrats, were racial conservatives. The Republican Party practically did not exist in states like Mississippi. It is just as obvious that, starting in the 40s and accelerating after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, conservatives began migrating to the Republican Party.
And, if you don't understand that Progressives support AA because they think that both current and past discrimination holds African Americans back, you need to check the relevant polling
That is not obvious when you look at the actual voting patterns. Quickly sanity check by looking at the presidential election outcomes, and see how much support you find for this version of events. 20 of the 22 southern Senate seats that voted for the CRA stayed Democrat for the next 20 years. They didn't start flipping Red until Reagan appealed to them as evangelicals. And even then, Clinton carried the south in 1992. A lot of those old racists stayed Democrat voters until they died, or at least well into retirement age, because unions, or FDR won the war.
There was a story from the 2008 campaign, about a canvasser for Obama in rural Pennsylvania who knocked on a door in a rural home. An elderly woman answers. The canvasser asks who they're voting for. The woman calls out, "Honey, who are we voting for?", and the presumed husband is heard to holler back "The n*gger!" And the woman smiled sweetly at the canvasser and reiterated, "We're voting for the n*gger." This story was told in a tone of awe at the Nyarlotep-tier charisma of Barack Obama, that he could inspire even these racist, sexist old assholes to vote for Hope and Change. But I think it's pretty likely that they had just been voting for whoever was a [D] since double-ya double-ya two, and if a yellow dog, why not a black guy?
It is indeed obvious when you look at voting for President, and when you look at pcts for other races.
I don't understand your reference to 20 of the 22 southern Senate seats that voted for the CRA. Only 1 Southern Senator voted in favor, and he was from Texas.
Clinton most certainly did not carry the South in 1992. Certainly not the deep South. As I noted elsewhere, the deep South did not vote even once for the Republican Party from the end of Reconstruction through 1960. Not even during the Eisenhower landslide. Yet from 1964 till now, the have instead almost never voted Democratic.
Sorry, that is an annoying amount of imprecise language and memory drift on my part. The stat living in my head was "20 of the 22 Southern Democrat Senate seats stayed Democrat for 20 years after the CRA"; the bit about "voted for" is superfluous and doesn't even make sense. And of course, trying to look it up is hopelessly confounded by results for "2022 Senate election". So, doing this the awkward way and just looking up the maps for every Senate election from 64 onward, I think the general point weakly holds.
Georgia doesn't elect a Republican to Senate until 1980. SC elected a Democrat to Senate in 1964, then confirmed in a special election in 1965. Strom Thurmond won in 66 and stayed in office forever, but the other NC Senate seat was Democrat-held until 2004, the first time a Republican held that seat since Reconstruction.
North Carolina Goes Democrat in 66, 68, then a Republican in 72, and a Democrat in 74 (that seat flips in 80).
Alabama votes D in 66, 68, 72, 74, 78 (twice!), flips R in 80, but goes back to D in 84 and 86, 90, 92, before flipping R again in 96-98.
Mississippi votes D in 64, 66, 70, 72, and 76. Flips R in 78, but D again in 82. That D seat flips R in 88.
Louisiana doesn't send a Republican to the Senate until 2004.
Texas is split 1/1 until 1994.
Florida is D in 64, R in 68. The Democrat seat stays blue until 88. The R seat flips back and forth a few times until it stays blue for a 3 election stretch ending in the 00s.
Tennessee does some complicated flipping between both seats, but doesn't seem to settle on R until 94.
Arkansas doesn't elect a Republican to Senate until 1996.
Missouri elects it's first Republican in 76, and seems to lock into that side during the 80's.
Overall, it looks like the "switch" happens in the late 70s into the mid-90s.
In presidential elections, only a few deep south states vote for Goldwater in 64. 68 is hopelessly confounded by Democrat-cum-Independent George Wallace. 72 Nixon carries basically everything, but in 76 Jimmy Carter takes the entire South. Reagan only loses GA in 80, and crushes in 84, which Bush replicates in 88; these wins, like Nixon's are so generally decisive that it's hard to chalk them up to regional-specific trends.. In 92 and 96 Clinton is at least strongly competitive in the South, winning about half the Southern states each time, and coming within 5ish points for most of the others. The South only really locks in as "Red States" with GWB.
This article takes a deeper look. Some money quotes:
So, yes, there is definitely something to this story, the Southern Strategy clearly had some effect, even if it seems like it was mostly alienating black voters. But this story Democrats tell themselves that "And then one day, for no reason, all the good people and all the bad people switched teams" is mostly copium and deflection from their party's history, which by their normal standards ought to utterly damn them.
Well, that is not the story I told, and more generally, this does not address the very clear reality that, while in the past social conservatives were Democrats, that is obviously no longer the case, so, whatever the specific details, the claim that "Democrats are the racists because most racists were Democrats sixty years ago" is not a very honest claim. So, no, the party's history should not "damn them," because both parties have different compositions than they did in the past.
Then we are watching two very different movies. That's the story I imbibed growing up and there may still exist the cringy teenaged political rants on LiveJournal to prove it. I get annoyed at this discussion because I'm coming with the embarrassed energy of the deconverted. More generally, I think if I rephrased it less snarkily, something like "After the CRA, basically all of the racists immediately switched to the Republican party and stayed there ever since", the median Redditor would agree, and further agree that all educated people know this is true history.
At this point we're a little deep in the woods, in terms of multiple people jumping into a conversation. The "newest posts" feed is great for murdering time, but contributes to this sort of situation. To clarify, I'm not saying the quoted bit above, but I am saying that many of the racist Democrats from 60 years ago stayed Democrats in the wake of the CRA, and many who did switch did so more for other reasons ranging from religion to foreign policy, over the course of that 60 years. Hlynka, by contrast, was making a separate claim that Democrats are a party of public disorder and violent race baiting, and that this is core enough to the meme cluster "Democrat Party" to be common between old social-con Klansmen and new woke-prog antifa.
This is a very isolated demand for rigor. Dems damn the Republicans for the Southern Strategy and the United States in general for slavery and historical racism, but BlushingFlowerMeme.jpg regarding their own party's history as the party of slavery, the party of the Klan, and the party of Jim Crow. I'm certainly amenable to "the past is a different country" arguments, but the folks who toppled statues of abolitionists because they don't actually know who the person was don't get a free dodge for that accusation of hypocrisy.
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