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Interview: Jeremy Carl, Author of “The Unprotected Class”

Jeremy Carl, Fellow at the Claremont Institute, has written a book that is getting a lot of people talking, and that we believe should be discussed. The book is titled The Unprotected Class: How Anti-White Racism Is Tearing America Apart.

We don’t think it’s feasible to deny at least two things about the contemporary United States. First, there exists, in at least some areas, such as higher education and employment law, explicit legal discrimination against white people (and other groups). Secondly, there has been an increase, relative to, say, 10 years ago, in heated racial rhetoric attacking white people as a group, or “whiteness”.

But is this sufficient to say that there exists something called “anti-white racism”? There is a problem, but how serious is it, exactly, factually? And if there is a serious problem, and it is “anti-white racism”, would it be too divisive to call it out? Or would it be politically suicidal for Republicans to do so?

We have asked ourselves these questions and we wanted to ask them to Carl, who we know to be a highly intelligent writer and policy expert, who has produced an important book. Our interview was conducted over videoconference and lightly edited for clarity. Here it is.

PolicySphere: Please tell us about yourself and the book.

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Jeremy Carl: I’m a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, and I have formerly been at the Hoover Institution at Stanford as a fellow for about a decade. In the interim, I served in the Trump Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior. I have worked in a lot of different policy areas, but over the last few years, I found myself gravitating toward questions of immigration, national identity, multiculturalism and race relations. I saw a need for this book because I saw this phenomenon, and yet nobody would write about it. And I decided that I had the expertise, and I was willing to be bold enough to go do it. So that’s why I put myself out there and wrote The Unprotected Class.

PolicySphere: Please explain the thesis of the book.

Jeremy Carl: The book is titled The Unprotected Class: How Anti-White Racism Is Tearing America Apart. In the book, I attempt to very calmly lay out a case. It’s not a polemic. I think that’s important. I very intentionally did not write this to preach to the converted, to give them a bunch of more angry words. I very much wrote it for mainstream Republicans, or people who have a parent or a friend who’s a mainstream Republican. And to them, I want to calmly present a case. It’s a “just the facts, Ma’am” kind of book. I have almost a thousand references.

I start by giving the lay of the land. I talk about the civil rights regime and how that played a role in getting where we are today. And then I have 11 chapters by subject. These cover everything from white flight, to crime, to education, to statues and public monuments, to the military, to the church. And I document how anti-white racism works in each of these. It’s not that nobody’s ever written about any of these issues before, but they tend to euphemize. They tend to talk about wokeness or critical race theory, instead of using the word white. Also, it’s like the parable of the blind men touching an elephant. They each have different parts of the elephant, and they think it’s a different thing. I try to say: it’s actually an elephant, guys, and that really matters. 

PolicySphere: Let’s take an example of something where discrimination against whites is the most undeniable: college admissions. Someone might say, yes, that is real, and it’s bad, but they might say it’s not anti-white per se. It’s also anti-Asian. So it’s not specifically directed at white people. It just benefits certain groups, which because of arithmetic ends up disadvantaging other groups. But that’s not the same thing as anti-white racism, because it’s not specifically targeting whites as a race. What would you say to that?

Jeremy Carl: I address this concern in the book. I thought hard about whether to use the term “discrimination” or “racism” in the title. I ended up using “racism” because I think there’s two things going on. There’s formal and informal racism. There is formal discrimination, and you can debate whether that discrimination has racist intent. But there are also informal things going on that are clearly racist, whether or not they have an immediate discriminatory element to them. So in the case of college admissions, what’s really being targeted is, for lack of a better term, merit. And white people kind of get swept up into that, as well as Asian-Americans and some other groups, sometimes even moreso. And I do talk about that where it happens. But there’s also another set of things–I think, a significantly larger set of things–where white people are specifically targeted. And so I think it’s fair game to use the term. But you’re right that there’s a lot of different phenomena, and I’m collapsing them into one thing for a book title, but the book itself gets into the subtleties.

PolicySphere: Interesting that you talk about this softer anti-white racism. There are things where the discrimination is undeniable, because it’s literally written into law, as when the Biden Administration creates a program for farmers where every group except whites is eligible. That’s easy to call out. But, as you say, there is another category of softer things. But, one might ask: are they real? Are they important? Let’s deliberately pick something that seems silly and unimportant: the fact that in many commercials, the white man seems to have the role of the idiot or the comic foil. Is it fair game to notice something like this and call it out? Or should one say something like: grow up, it’s not a big deal?

Jeremy Carl: First of all, let me say that I did not write this to whine or to create a new victim class. I am not yelling to the refs. I’m exhorting my own team, if I can use that term. I’m saying: stop being such losers, stop being such wimps, stop allowing the bully to kick sand in your face and not do anything because you’re worried of being called racist. I certainly want minorities, to the extent that they are involved in these discussions, to treat whites fairly and equally. But the bottom line is about white people–if we decide to stop having sand kicked in our face, it’s going to stop, right? Beyond that, you touched on the issue of commercials. I talk about these things. Liberal scholars have been documenting things like this since the 1960s, and it is true that minorities have overall been portrayed more positively than white characters in media. Is this fatal? Like, are we going to die? Is America going to cease to exist? Of course not. And I’m not claiming otherwise. However, at the same time, I’m not going to put up with that. I’m going to say, that’s not right. So my view is that I am just calling it out. I’m telling you to cut it out, and if you don’t cut it out, I’m going to try to make life unpleasant for you. 

PolicySphere: Can you give us an example of something that is somewhere in-between explicit legal discrimination, like a government program where whites need not apply, and something seemingly silly like the commercials?

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Jeremy Carl: A classic one would be the statues. By this I don’t mean the Confederate statues, which are their own category. But, for example, the Thomas Jefferson statue is not being taken down in the New York City Council chambers explicitly because he’s white. But in reality, that’s exactly what’s happening. A certain set of people and a certain type of history of America are being marginalized. It’s not always explicitly on racial grounds, but in the vast majority of cases that is the motivating factor. I have a whole chapter in the book where I go into examples like that.

PolicySphere: What’s the most, “I would never have suspected this” example that you came across in doing this book?

Jeremy Carl: In my chapter on history, I talk about this transgender man, that is to say, a man pretending to be a woman, by the name of Marsha P Johnson. A couple memorials were put up to this person in New York City. There’s a statue on the way in this person’s hometown in Elizabeth, New Jersey. At one point, that statue was going to replace a statue of Columbus. This is a transgender sex worker who was arrested hundreds of times, who was mentally ill, who was almost certainly involved in sex with underage people and prostituting out underage people. You cannot believe how sordid this person’s biography is. And this is who we are replacing Columbus with?

In the chapter on the military, there are some pretty shocking anecdotes about black racialists, and Black Lives Matter banners being held up in combat zones. I’ve got a million of those, these are just a few of the very specific examples that walk the line between formal and informal.

And this isn’t new. Tom Wolfe, the great American satirist, kind of addressed this when he wrote Bonfire of the Vanities in the 1980s; he talks about hunting for the great white defendant, right? As he puts it, using the terminology of the time, using his words, prosecutors put a bunch of blacks and Latins in jail, but all of them want to find that juicy, privileged white defendant they can go after. And that was really the goal of every New York prosecutor at that time.

PolicySphere: Another question would be perceptual. Some people might say, you may be correct on the merits, but using the term anti-white racism is toxic and divisive, and that does more harm than good. What would you say to that?

Jeremy Carl: I wrote the book precisely because I wanted to say no, actually, we have to say it. To be clear, I don’t want to divide the country. In fact, I view it as a necessary precondition to reunite the country. I describe racial politics in terms of a Cold War analogy. What we need is mutually assured destruction. So they need to understand that if they’re going to come out after us with this type of racist nonsense, that we’re going to make things so politically painful for them in doing so, that they’re going to hopefully step back and say: “Yeah, you know what? Maybe we should just go back to ‘content of their character,’ and not put anti-white stuff at the center of our strategy.” We do have to actually call out anti-white racism. If we just have these gauzy appeals to colorblindness, if we pretend that these things aren’t being done to white people, as white people, we do a disservice to the country. Even though we should be very explicit that, of course, we would like to get back to colorblindness. 

One of the main reasons I wrote the book is to give politicians who might choose to read it a language and a set of information. Again, the book has a very “just the facts ma’am” approach. But it gives them a way of talking about these issues. I think if we don’t, we’re just resigning ourselves to a lifetime of losing.

PolicySphere: The counterargument to that is that whether we like it or not, America is becoming more diverse. There’s signs of growth of Republicans among minorities. And many whites, particularly educated whites, are turned off by identitarian appeals. So somebody would look at the electoral math and say, if you turn up the white identity rhetoric, you’re losing a fair amount of non-white voters and not making it up with enough white voters.

Jeremy Carl: Well, I mean, this is obviously an experiment that I hope we run. Right? I actually don’t agree. I think what you’re saying is totally reasonable, but I just disagree. And I do lay out a number of political solutions in the book. And to be clear, I’m not a white identitarian. The US is now 58% white, so, this is not a call to have a US that would be somehow a white identitarian state. Instead, I want to say: hey, let’s stop having the bullies kick sand in our face and put together a multicultural coalition that, among the many other things that it’s going to care about, says that anti-white racism is bad. And I do think that in finally talking about this issue, you’re going to bring in a lot of these disaffiliated voters who are just kind of frustrated that nobody’s speaking for them. For example, right now, people who are not voters are disproportionately Trump supporters. So you would bring them into the coalition. But I do think it matters how you talk about it, and that’s also part of the reason why I wrote the book: to make that a friendlier and more fact-based conversation.

PolicySphere: So what’s the policy agenda like? To be clear, you’re not calling for affirmative action for white people. 

Jeremy Carl: No, of course not.

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PolicySphere: So what is it?

Jeremy Carl: Certainly affirmative action must go. I think we need to broadly take a fresh look at all of our civil rights laws and do some pretty fundamental reforms to those. I talk about what those might look like. 

The book also has a broader line of thinking about: how do we make a unified country out of this? There’s a Canadian scholar named Eric Kaufmann, who teaches at the University of Buckingham, who wrote the book Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities, which basically calls for what is effectively multiracial whiteness. For example, there’s a group of 19% of Americans who, now, are Hispanic–a category that did not even legally exist in the US until the 1980 census–and have four times more European ancestry than any other ancestry group; a third of them are already intermarried. There are Eurasians; there are half black-half white people. Right now, there are so many incentives to identify as non-white. Instead, perhaps we should say, actually we want you to identify as part of this new American majority that is going to have many different ancestry groups as part of it. But we all think George Washington is a neat guy. So if you change the census, eliminate affirmative action, close the border, have mass deportation of illegals combined with a strict immigration system, and change these incentive structures for people to flee away from describing themselves as white, then you can begin to have a “whiteshift” or a new American ethnogenesis, whatever you want to call it. And that, I think, could be the durable basis for a new American majority going forward.

The reality is that race is a very malleable concept, right? I do think that we shouldn’t shy away from our European heritage, but I don’t mean that in some sort of genetic-test way. It’s a certain kind of cultural, religious, and spiritual background that I think is very important. And I don’t think we need to shy away from the fact that this background is, well, European. But I certainly don’t believe it should be seen as something racially exclusive.

So, for example, the geneticist Razib Khan talks about how contemporary Hungarians have no shared genetic ancestry with their Central Asian forebears. And yet, culturally, they see themselves very much as the descendants of those Magyar people. I think that’s very healthy. So nobody’s going to look at your skin tone to declare whether or not you can identify with the Founding Fathers. At least in my worldview. And obviously, politically, it helps to emphasize that.

PolicySphere: We end each interview with two questions: first, what’s the most underrated or the most important issue that nobody talks about? And don’t say anti-white racism. Darn–it’s kind of a trick question for you.

Jeremy Carl: This is so boring and normal, but it’s what came to mind, so I’m just going to say it: our budget situation. We are all so invested in the culture war, and I get it–obviously, I wrote a book that is at the heart of the culture war, whether I want to or not. But the reality is we could probably fake our way around a lot of this stuff, except that the money is about to run out. And a lot of these debates that just seemed like gentleman’s quarrels, even if they occasionally get a little bit spicy, will get a lot worse when the money really does run out. The unlimited menu of fun stuff that we want to buy in America is no longer going to be there. And that’s going to lead to some really ugly discontinuities in society, particularly around the issues that I’m writing about. So I’ll throw that out there. Of course it’s an issue people do know about–but we’re not talking about it nearly enough because nobody really wants to.

PolicySphere: Our second traditional question is: who’s the smartest person we should interview next?

Jeremy Carl: If I have to name someone, it would be Victor Davis Hanson. I think he has been a classic guy. He was a great mentor to me at Hoover. He’s a great guy who’s kind of entertained some dissident ideas, but has been very much in the mainstream of conservative thought.

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