“Our race faces a world-wide genetic catastrophe. There is only one word that can adequately describe it: genocide.” David Duke
So really, what’s the thing with Russia? Why would Donald Trump and portions of the American right be drawn to a relatively poor country that seems to have few international friends and is known for assassinations, interfering in elections and sports doping?
Out in the world, Russia is not much of a success. Sure, it’s a Eurasian country with a lot of land and a lot of oil. But it has a population and economy just somewhat larger than Mexico and produces far less in terms of manufactures than does our southern neighbor. Except for nested dolls and caviar, few people can name Russia products. It has a big and powerful military, true, but always seems to be on the wrong side of every conflict. And it’s authoritarian in ways which few Americans — even those on the hard right — would tolerate at all.
Yet many Trumpers seem inexplicably drawn toward it. According to a recent story on Voice of America, Russia has even made headway in the US military: “Russian efforts to weaken the West through a relentless campaign of information warfare may be starting to pay off, cracking a key bastion of the U.S. line of defense: the military.” Although the Defense Department explains this rise in terms of Russian propaganda, they’re missing a more basic point: The attraction for US and European rightists has little to do with Russia’s strength or politics. Instead it’s about whiteness.
Few right-wing Russophiles will openly admit they see Russia as a kindred soul; they may not even be consciously aware of it. So, we have to turn to a philosopher of America’s dark soul to explain it — professional racist David Duke. In 2004, Duke was beginning his advanced studies in whiteness at a diploma mill in Ukraine. That year, he published an impassioned broadside entitled, “Is Russia the Key to White survival?
“All across the Western world,” he wrote, “I see our racial consciousness growing, our movements increasing, our spirit rising. Everywhere, our people are putting aside petty differences and nationality divisions and understand that now we must have White Pride Worldwide and White Unity.” Nowhere is that truer, he said, than in Russia, “Russia is a White nation! Of the many capital cities of Europe, it is accurate to say that Moscow is the Whitest of them all.”
And, Duke said, there is no time to waste: “Our race faces a world-wide genetic catastrophe. There is only one word that can adequately describe it: genocide. It is a relentless and systematic destruction of the European genotype.”
Here, there are many acolytes, including Trump, whose public statements often echo Duke precisely: “Why do we want these people from all these shithole countries here? We should have more people from places like Norway.”
Of course, neither Trump nor Duke are referring to actual countries which are filled with people of differing opinions and increasingly different racial backgrounds. Instead they’re allying themselves with racial myths which reached their peak under Nazism.
While the white myth resounds throughout the land, is it demographically true? Presently, there are roughly a billion white people in the world, although that number changes with the context and with who is doing the counting. Are light skinned Arabs white People? Are Japanese whose skin tones are lighter than southern Europeans? Are there honorary Aryans? Basically, though, we’re talking about white Christians — people of European descent. And while Slavs were only grudging included in the twentieth century, they are now enthusiastically part of the white family. In Trump’s case, literally so.
Trump, however, is hardly the first American president to express his love for white nationalism; in fact, few presidents ever strayed from it. Pre-liberation South Africa and Rhodesia were especially close to Ronald Reagan’s heart. But Reagan was prevented from having a pan-white vision because of the Red Menace. Trump has no such restriction.
Racial fears are drawing white countries together. The US and Russia, then, are homes to the two largest populations of Christian white people, comprising in total one-third of all so-called Caucasians. And they worry about being swamped in a wave of color. While it’s true that overall white birthrates have declined, that has more to do with affluence than the absence of melanin. But the fear remains, and David Duke spoke to it without shame.
“Unchecked, low White birthrates, massive non-White immigration and intermarriage will mean the complete genetic destruction of the great European race that produced an overwhelming share of the world’s great art and literature, scientific and economic advancement.”
While that would definitely be a bummer, there was hope in Duke’s black heart. As he said with more optimism than evidence, “When a racially aware Russia and reawakened America become united in our cause, the world will change. Our race will survive and together we shall go to the stars!”
That is the sentiment that underlies the right-wing L’affair Russe. Largely unacknowledged, that sentiment undermines our efforts to confront Russia politically and militarily. It’s no secret that Trump, like Duke, is driven by racial fear. Unlike Duke, however, Trump will not admit that his love for Russia is underlain by white supremacy.