If I ruled the world
A mailbag to end all mailbags (for 2022)
Well well well, so it’s almost 2023. It’s a year I haven’t thought much about in advance to be honest. It isn’t an election or Olympics year1. I’m not starting a new job or venture, nor do I have a book coming out (though the paperback of Gangsters drops in the U.S. and Canada on August 1, you can preorder now). There will likely be some personal news upcoming, so stay tuned for that, but broadly I don’t know what to expect for the world. In other words, the Year of the Rabbit will be a kind of a blank canvas, unless you’re in Ukraine or Haiti, or some other ongoing emergency. And even then it never hurts to hope for the best.
On Tuesday I asked you to send me your year-ending questions and some predictions for next year. So let’s dip into the New Year’s Eve Eve mailbag and see what we’ve got.
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I enjoyed your recent musings about white supremacists of color. What do you make of Tim Scott, the South Carolina senator? I would not put him in the same category as Ye or Fuentes; he strikes me as a banal Chamber of Commerce reactionary. However, his career and the incipient boomlet to put him on the 2024 Republican ticket seems to have been pushed by the kinds of Republicans who very much like seeing white supremacist tropes voiced by people of color.
Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t put him in their group. But Scott does come out of the tradition of Black conservatism that Ye and the MAGA movement keep playing around with. As Jamelle Bouie wrote six years ago: “Scott isn’t pioneering a new kind of conservatism as much as he’s channeling an old tradition. Specifically, Scott is speaking in a language of black conservatism that would be familiar to figures like Booker T. Washington” — putting an emphasis on ideas like self-reliance and community empowerment.
But the way Scott delivers that message seems to resonate much more with white evangelicals than Black voters in South Carolina — in 2014, Scott got just 10 percent of the Black vote. (Weirdly, I can’t seem to find any exit polling for South Carolina in 2022 at all. If you know of any, put it in the comments below). That, as you say, is surely a product of white Southerners being happy to see a Black man laugh off white supremacy (“Woke supremacy is as bad as white supremacy,” Scott told Joy Reid last year) and to take their side against any and all efforts to achieve social justice. (Also last year, Scott likened setting aside money in the American Rescue Plan for Black farmers facing foreclosure to Jim Crow, saying, “Blood wasn’t shed on the Edmund Pettus Bridge or the streets of Birmingham so that we could reinvent the mistakes of our past.”) So, yeah, while I wouldn’t call him an ideological white supremacist in any way, he’d definitely be counting on their support in any presidential bid.
Two related questions, from Jenn and John respectively:
You’re now the ruler of the world. What do you do to make things right in Haiti?
How do we really help Haiti at this point?
One simple trick: a massive wealth transfer and a fundamental restructuring of the structures of local and global power.
This isn’t as unthinkable as it sounds. Remember back in the spring, when the New York Times briefly drew public’s attention to the fact that the French post-independence ransom cost the
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