The hair-curling humiliation of a Department of Justice official for ‘racially insensitive’ remarks demonstrates the reaches of anti-majority power in the United States
John Tanner’s 15 minutes of fame, like that of so many white men, came about for stating a plain truth about race.
Tanner, chief of the Department of Justice’s voting rights division, was invited to speak at a gathering of the “National Latino Congreso” in Los Angeles in early October. On the topic of ID requirements, Mr. Tanner said they did not affect minorities to the extent they affected whites because minorities have shorter life spans. “They die first,” he said.
Never mind, of course, that this is true. Never mind, as well, the context: Mr. Tanner was speaking to an explicitly racially-conscious Hispanic group primarily interested in advancing its own ethnic interest — at the expense of whites, his own race — and blamed the earlier deaths of blacks and other minorities also on his own race, via “disparaties in health care.”
Mr. Tanner’s punishment was to be called before the House Judiciary Committee on Oct. 30, 2007, for what can only be described as a modern-day whipping by whites’ new masters, such as Jewish Rep. Jerold Nadler of New York, black representatives Bobby Scott of Virginia and John Conyers of Michigan, and black Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank captured some of the more grisly exchanges.
Ellison, the black Muslim, exacted unique torture by demanding that Tanner describe in his own terms his sins against blacks (from Milbank’s article):
“Exactly what are you apologizing for?” Ellison demanded.
“I hurt people,” Tanner confessed.
“How did you hurt them?”
“The reaction of people to my statement —”
Ellison pounced. “So you are apologizing because of the reaction?”
Tanner retreated. “I caused that reaction, certainly not intentionally. I made a clumsy statement.”
“So the problem is the tone?” Ellison pressed.
“I certainly had a bad tone and clumsiness.”
This also failed to satisfy Ellison. “Are you just trying to curry favor?” he demanded.
“I feel that if I make remarks that people misinterpret —”
Uh-oh. “So people misinterpreted what you said?” a triumphant Ellison asked.
Tanner retreated. “I apologize for that,” he said.
Ellison’s technique is designed for maximum psychological dominance. One level of control is to simply inflict pain for actions or words that are disfavored — for instance, if Mr. Tanner were simply yelled at for his remarks. Another, much higher, level involves requiring the subject to self-torture, or self-submit, to the dominant power, by mouthing in his or her own words. One is reminded of dissenters kidnapped by totalitarian governments who are forced to appear on television and recite for the camera that they have been disloyal to the regime.
Under American enslavement of African blacks, the whipping of a slave by a master likely served two functions: One, to punish an individual slave for a transgression, and two, to remind the slave, as well as the others, who is in charge. It was clear from this hearing who is in charge. Mr. Tanner, though having ascended to a position of some power, holds a job for which the very purpose — enforcement of voting rights — is to advance the interests of minorities. He needed to be reminded of this, apparently.
For racially conscious whites, what is most disheartening is to watch the utter humiliation of a white man before this group. It is somewhat like a child watching his father be physically beaten by a larger, more powerful man. Not only are you helpless, but you suffer deeply in the knowledge that the very one charged with your defense is also helpless.
This is the state of whites today. They must watch in horrified silence as their own men are cut down — and fail to put up any sort of resistance themselves, thus compounding the shame.
Anti-majority activists like Rep. Ellison should be careful here. Groups can withstand much abuse, but gleeful humiliations and wanton exercises in cruelty are the sort of thing that create the slow burn of a reigniting resistance.
Christopher Donovan is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist.