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Are They Everywhere or Are We Paranoid?

The rush to condemn the Covington high school boys over an imagined slight against a native American and the clamor to ditch Virginia Governor Ralph Northam over a yearbook photograph depicting two figures, one in blackface and the other in KKK costume -- when they would not criticize him for his views on infanticide -- underscore the excruciating sensitivity of American politics to race, gender, and victimhood. The latest example is an op-ed in the Daily Beast alleging that "Tom Brady’s New England Patriots Are Team MAGA, Whether They Like It or Not."

Their star quarterback, coach, and owner all supported Trump. But that’s not the only thing that makes the Super Bowl LIII-bound Patriots the preferred team of white nationalists. ... The whole institution of Boston sports, from root to stem, is tinged with the sort of racism that brought Trump into office. The Boston Red Sox were the last MLB team to desegregate, more than a decade after Jackie Robinson entered the league. The Sox’s first owner, Tom Yawkey, was an infamous racist whose speech was peppered with racial slurs. Larry Bird became a symbol of white resentment during his time in the NBA, his jersey appearing as a symbol of white entitlement to black spaces in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. His large teammate, Kevin McHale, was spotted at a Trump rally during the election.

Ridiculous or perceptive? While some of these accounts are clickbait or tongue in cheek, part of the panic is doubtless genuine. What is in the water that makes people so sensitive to perceived conspiracies? Maybe it first began when Lawrence Summers caused someone to faint when he asked about women in STEM. The Crimson wrote on that occasion:

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers has triggered criticism by telling an economics conference Friday that the under-representation of female scientists at elite universities may stem in part from “innate" differences between men and women, although two Harvard professors who heard the speech said the remarks have been taken out of context in an ensuing national media frenzy. MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins ’64 said she felt physically ill as a result of listening to Summers’ speech at a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) luncheon, and she left the conference room half-way through the president’s remarks.

That was the first of the storm petrels. Now there are racists and Nazis everywhere. They lie in wait on freezing streets ready to victimize people of color. They surround hapless native Americans in Washington with insulting smirks. They are depicted as chasing children while driving around in trucks flying confederate flags. Racists are even able to masquerade as Democratic officials.  Is there nothing they can't do?

Those who see this as the true picture of America in 2019 are genuinely terrified. While some might dismiss this as paranoia, the woke explanation is that Nazis are everywhere and the sightings are real. Despite the apparent gains of recent decades, they were just hiding, lying dormant. They are now emerging under the patronage of Trump, like roaches when the lights are dimmed, to fill every nook and cranny. This persistence confirms the existence of intractable white, male, and privileged malevolence that not even decades of liberal culture can eradicate.