New stories

Pat Buchanan's White-Power Obsession

In his latest book, the right-wing commentator recycles his familiar racial fears.


Not only is Patrick Buchanan predicting the death of America as a superpower, but he is blaming it singularly on a "[President Barack] Obama rainbow coalition of peoples of color."

The ascendance of the First Black Family to the White House has driven race-crazed Buchanan over the edge. It was not much of a trip. For years, the dour pundit viewed every African-American advance as a distinct slight against "white folks."

In his new book, the title of which will fester unmentioned in this space, the syndicated columnist-analyst-white-power advocate yearns for the good old racially segregated days of his youth in Washington, D.C. "Back then," he writes of this golden age in his "Last Chance" chapter, "Black and white lived apart, went to different schools and churches, played on different playgrounds and went to different restaurants, bars, theaters and soda fountains. But we shared a country and a culture. We were one nation. We were Americans."

It's not just blacks who Buchanan blames for the impending death of America. The Asians, Latinos, especially the Mexicans -- Spanish blood and all, who preceded Anglos in the Southwest -- they all terrify him. The bright light of civilization, he argues, can be sustained only by "peoples of European descent from the steppes of Russia to the coast of California."

Ironically, Buchanan, as an Irish Catholic, runs to type as bigoted members of these ethnic groups for long stretches of American history were themselves targeted by white Anglo-Protestants as carriers of the blight. Before the Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys of 19th-century Boston could get their footing, for example, they had to come to grips with homegrown bigotry and exclusion. 

These forebears of the 35th U.S. president first "had to overcome the harsh, widespread discrimination against Irish-Catholic immigrants at that time," as noted in presidential papers at the Kennedy Library. That bias extended to the 1960 presidential campaign, when a large segment of white Americans opposed Kennedy because they saw the Irish Catholics as ushering in the decline of American culture and power.

In calling for a return to the apartheid state, Buchanan strongly opposes excluded citizens fighting for their inclusion, say, in a nondiscriminatory job market. When a national consortium of black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American journalists petitioned 10 major media outlets in 2008 to promote at least one additional, nonwhite senior manager to their individual staffs by 2010, Buchanan objected in a 900-word Web post.

The white-power advocate wrote that the petition did not include "journalists of Irish, English, Polish, Italian, German or Jewish ancestry, since they are white." Far from being aggrieved, the white-group combination was precisely the owners, CEOs, producers, senior managers and publishers being petitioned. Some 222 years of white privilege have empowered these media titans, who oversee an industry that -- contrary to Buchanan's passionate yearning -- should more accurately reflect the America of the 21st century.

The sludge in Buchanan's book speaks, I submit, to the need of a biopsy of the writer capable of such toxin. I put the author under glass for the NABJ a couple years back and offer here a sketch of my findings

Some macabre, life-altering tragedy, early on, likely affected young Patrick Joseph, and his outlook mutated into a permanent state of race phobia. Clarence Mitchell III, the black former state senator, grew up with him in Maryland and, over the years, has been repeatedly astonished at his buddy's venomous "insensitivity to the plight of black Americans."