I don’t know when the “everything and everyone I don’t like in the world is a white nationalist” madness will burn itself out, but I pray it happens soon. It’s a remarkably destructive force that is turning Americans against one another. Every revolution needs its scapegoats, it’s ritual sacrifices. This time they came for J.D. Vance.
The Washington Post on Tuesday published an op-ed by Marissa Brostoff titled, “How white nationalists aligned themselves with the anti-abortion movement” that contained a vile defamation of Vance, one of America’s most decent public men, one whom other young men would do well to emulate. Fathers, tell your sons about J.D. Vance. Have them read his book. Have them follow his example. It will make them better men.
Vance became famous in 2016 when he published a memoir of his life growing up in southwestern Ohio in difficult, but by no means unusual, circumstances. And that was the point: his experience was like that of a lot of Americans his age. But through gracious providence, determination, and the support of some key family and friends, he put himself through Ohio State and then Yale Law School after first serving in Iraq in the Marine Corps. Vance is also a committed Christian, who recently converted to Roman Catholicism.
Nonetheless, Brostoff, the culture editor at Jewish Currents, chose to use Vance as an example of the white nationalism she sees everywhere. She wrote:
"[A]s replacement discourse enters the conservative mainstream, talk of birthrates comes along with it. “Our people aren’t having enough children to replace themselves. That should bother us,” J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling “Hillbilly Elegy,” told his audience at the National Conservatism Conference last month; earlier this year, he described himself as “appalled” by Democrats’ permissive attitudes toward abortion. Vance did not spell out exactly who was included in the word “our.” He didn’t need to."
For Brostoff, this is prima facie evidence of white nationalism, the Left’s go-to slander of the moment. Now think about the logic: failing to abort—to kill—a white child is now defined as white nationalism. We shouldn’t be surprised. Negative eugenics—which is to say, the use of abortion to eliminate the next generation of those deemed undesirable—has always been the logic of the abortion movement.
Sadly, Brostoff is typical of the contemporary American Left for whom everything has a racial valence. It’s a constricted, paranoid view of the world. I’ve been tempted to think that the recent white nationalism hysteria is a cynical political construction used to obtain and exercise power. No doubt that’s true in some cases; politicians and ideologues often have an “any-weapon-at-hand” ethos. But upon reflection, I have concluded that most of the people exercised about this issue really believe it.
And that’s worse. It’s become a sociopathological virus that undermines the health of our multiracial, multifaith society that creates resentment, envy, and revenge by forcing people to focus on our differences. Doing so means failing to build a better future either individually or collectively. It leads to malinvestment of time and talent—no one obsessed with microaggressions is going to build a hypersonic airplane that can get people from Los Angeles to Paris in a few hours or cure cancer or discover a mass-energy source cheaper than oil.
In a society in which we’re told we can no longer assume someone’s gender, Brostoff was completely comfortable assuming she knew—knew with metaphysical certainty—everything about J.D. Vance. She assumed the very worst not only without evidence but in direct contradiction of the evidence. No doubt she felt the intoxicating rush of moral superiority as she called out an enemy of the revolution, attacking his good name and trying to destroy his reputation.
The Post added a correction, but that’s beside the point. Brostoff herself noted on Twitter that it was her editor who suggested that she include Vance’s comments as evidence to support her assertion which tells us that this isn’t just the view of a single op-ed contributor but reflects the personal views of at least some of the Post’s editorial staff.
Anyone who watched Vance’s speech or even just read the transcript cannot reasonably conclude that he was talking about white babies. The context is crystal clear: he is talking about America and Americans. That means that Brostoff and her editor at the Post intentionally distorted his words.
So just what did Vance say that was so wrong? Judge for yourself:
"There are a lot of ways to measure a healthy society, but the most important way to measure a healthy society is by whether a nation is having enough children to replace itself. Do people look to the future and see a place worth having children in? Do they have economic prospects and the expectation that they’re going to be able to put a good roof over that kid’s head, food on the table, and provide that child with a good education? By every statistic that we have, people are answering “no” to all of those questions."
Claiming Vance is a white nationalist is an act of astonishing bad faith. The term is now thrown around so frequently and so carelessly that it has no specific meaning, though it is certainly meant to suggest that those who are so-labeled want to harm or maybe even kill people who are not white. It’s an all-purpose slur meant to degrade, dehumanize, and exclude. That’s wrong. The sick irony is that Vance is the subject of this vicious attack precisely because he wants unborn babies not to be killed. Shame on Marissa Brostoff for defaming a good man and shame on the Washington Post for encouraging her and for publishing such trash.
This is the upside-down world in which we live: an up-by-his-bootstraps, Christian family man is the object of slander in the pages of one of America’s leading newspapers because he opposes the abortion of babies in the womb and because he hopes Americans will have more children. Which way America?