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New Dignity Party: The Would-be Liberal Wing of the White-Identity Movement

New Dignity Party was a label first used during a 2009 municipal-election campaign in Minneapolis. The party ran three candidates: Bill McGaughey for mayor of Minneapolis, John Butler for Minneapolis Park Board, and Jim Swartwood for Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation. In this ranked-choice-voting election, McGaughey received 1% of the first-choice votes (230 votes); Butler, 3% of the first-choice votes (1,110 votes); and Swartwood, 3% of the first-choice votes (971 votes). It can reasonably be concluded that this initial foray into electoral politics bombed. The party has conducted no other campaigns.

The main purpose of the New Dignity Party campaign was to bring race out into the open as an issue for Minneapolis voters to consider. Although other issues also entered the campaign, race relations and attitudes were highlighted in literature distributed to over 1,000 households. Bill McGaughey, representing the white point of view, debated an African American friend, Ed Eubanks, on the Minneapolis cable-access channel. The party also had a web site at www.newdignityparty.org that contained position papers. This campaign attracted no media attention. It seemed that Minneapolis residents simply did not want to think about race, at least not as presented in this way.

McGaughey’s background

William McGaughey became sensitized to issues of race when his last employer had presentations during Black History Month and at other times for the purpose of making its white employees less bigoted. He later subscribed to a publication of American Renaissance, which advocates for white people under the rubric of “race realism”.

In February 2010, McGaughey and a friend were preparing to drive to the Washington, D.C., area to attend the annual conference of this organization. He had already paid the conference fee. For an undisclosed reason, the organizers did not give out the name of the hotel to prospective attendees. When McGaughey called before the trip to learn the name, he was told that the conference was cancelled. The reason, he later discovered, is that “anti-racist” groups led by a former official of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had called hotel staff and threatened violence if the conference were held at its hotel. This happened four times. Plans for the conference were made at four different hotels and each time had to be cancelled.

In the following year, McGaughey was program chair of an academic organization concerned with civilizations. There was a proposal for what McGaughey considered might be a politically correct presentation of racial issues. He had the idea of inviting Jared Taylor, the head of American Renaissance, to give a presentation that would offset that point of view. Taylor readily accepted the invitation. However, the decision to invite him was not McGaughey’s alone but, rather, it belonged to a program committee. One of its members, who also handled conference arrangements, objected to inviting such a controversial person as Taylor because it would poison relations with Tulane University where the conference would be held. He also had relatives who worked at Tulane. McGaughey reluctantly agreed to rescind the invitation to Mr. Taylor.

email wars of 2010 and 2011

In the years that followed the 2009 municipal elections, Bill McGaughey was an active participant on the e-democracy forum, an online group that discussed topics of political interest. The topics often had racial implications. There were three such forums in which McGaughey participated; one concerned with Minneapolis issues, one for Minnesota issues, and one for issues of interest to the entire United States.

The value of such discussions was that it gives an idea of views concerning race that would not otherwise have been revealed. The silence was at least broken. Each participant gave his or her own name; the racial identity of each was, of course, not disclosed although it may be assumed that most, if not all, participants were white.

A discussion thread titled “On ‘political correctness’ and ‘white privilege’” took place on the US forum between March 23, 2010 and April 6, 2010. In it, McGaughey and a conservative from New Hampshire, Kevin Kervick, took on white liberals in the Twin Cities, notably Wizard Marks and Chuck Repke. Plenty of heat was generated.

Next, in a discussion thread titled “RACE WARS: A debate in the U.S. E-Democracy Forum under the heading of Lefty Incitement’”, which took place between March 27, 2010 and March 31, 2010, the discussion started with the question whether the political left or the political right was more guilty of using violence. Eventually, the focus shifted to cancellation of the “American Renaissance” annual conference in northern Virginia due to threats of violence. Kervick and McGaughey again upheld the conservative, “racist” position.

Passions continued to heat up in the next discussion thread, between April 14, 2010 and April 17, 2010 titled “Free speech wars: On leaving the forum or being kicked out”. The climax came when a liberal participant whose son had Down Syndrome said he was dropping out of the forum because of Kervick’s insensitivity to disabled people. There was also discussion of the Tea Party.

That summer, between August 20, 2010 and August 23, 2010, the discussion thread titled “Whether the Southern Poverty Law Center is a hate group” followed a posting of “the top ten conspiracy theories promulgated and kept alive by the far right” as compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center. One of them was the idea that 911 was an inside job. Bill McGaughey expressed the opinion that the Southern Poverty Law Center was itself a hate group. Most disagreed. McGaughey had supposedly been called a “racist-sexist bigot” in the Star Tribune newspaper.

The Tea Party came under scrutiny in the next thread, between November 8, 2010 and November 11, 2010, titled “questioning whether the Tea Party is an authentic movement or a Republican front”. McGaughey, who had met one of the principal organizers of the Tea Party in Minnesota, expressed the opinion that it was an authentic grassroots movement. Later on, a woman named Marnita Schroeder went after McGaughey for using the phrase “her type of person” which sounded bigoted to her.

Finally, a teacher posted a message about anti-immigrant and other hate that she had experienced in the schools. This thread, titled “Bad white people”, took place between April 3, 2011 and April 8, 2011. Bill McGaughey suggested that some whites were reacting negatively to the anti-white attitudes in society. Others, notably Wizard Marks, disagreed. Eventually, the moderator requested that the discussion end.

Few minds were likely changed in these discussions which pitted Bill McGaughey and sometimes Kevin Kervick against a number of mostly female liberals who were quick to apply unflattering labels to their political opponents. Still these on-line discussions, reproduced verbatim, are valuable as indicators of attitudes about race held in our society.

the shooting death of Terrance Franklin

On May 10, 2013, the Minneapolis police killed two individuals. One was a young African American male named Terrance Franklin who was shot to death in a basement. The other man, Ivan Romero, died in an accidental collision with a squad car racing to the scene of the first incident. This started a lengthy discussion in a series of threads that lasted from May 13, 2013 to May 9, 2014. (See Minneapolis reacts to two police killings on the same day.)

The newly appointed police chief, Janee Harteau, held a press conference in the afternoon to make a statement about the incidents. She expressed sympathy for two officers who were wounded during the confrontation with Terrance Franklin and disclosed that Franklin had a lengthy arrest record. She refused to give further details because an investigation was pending.

Bill McGaughey did not buy that explanation. The known facts were that the police on May 10th were chasing an unarmed burglary suspect who was later caught hiding in a basement. There were three armed officers and a police dog. Somehow Franklin was supposed to have grabbed an officer’s semiautomatic weapon in the basement and wounded two officers (not seriously) before being shot in the back of the head several times by another officer. In the second incident, a squad car, crossing a busy one-way street against the light, was racing across town to the previously mentioned scene a half hour after Franklin’s death. Was that standard procedure? The whole case smelled.

Nevertheless, the police chief continued to insist that no further information would be released to the public until the police had completed their investigation - and that could take months. McGaughey felt that the public was more owed timely information so that the citizens of Minneapolis could evaluation police performance while there was still interest in the case. Information was eventually released in September, 2013, when a grand jury declined to prosecute the officers involved in Franklin’s shooting.

Even though the death of Terrance Franklin attracted only local attention, there were largely black groups in Minneapolis that organized protest demonstrations. Bill McGaughey kept up the pressure on the police chief in a series of discussion threads on Minneapolis e-democracy forum related to this case. He also participated in the demonstrations. For a time, it seemed that someone in city government might actually do something.

However, chief Harteau, who was a native American lesbian, had a few tricks up her sleeve. An article in the Star Tribune on July 30, 2013, reported that two white off-duty Minneapolis police officers had used racial slurs and made derogatory references to her as a lesbian while vacationing in Green Bay, Wisconsin, several months earlier. Now posing as a champion of reform, the chief promptly announced an initiative to end racism in the department. She said: “The bottom line in that there is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind within the MPD. It will not be tolerated, period.” She also convened a hand-picked “Citizens Advisory Council” to recommend ways of combatting racism.

McGaughey saw this as a slick piece of political jiujitsu aimed at the liberal political establishment. People were no longer talking about Terrance Franklin’s death. McGaughey published an opinion piece in the Star Tribune on August 15, 2013, titled “Incorrect speech riles us up. Police violence, not so much.” It did not seem to matter. Top city officials and even some of the organizers of the protest demonstrations were appeased. Eventually, the foul-mouthed officers in the Green Bay incident were fired, abandoned even by the Police Federation.

On the other hand, no one connected with the double killings on May 10th was ever disciplined. Chief Harteau, too, had survived the criticism resulting from this case. She was often shown on the news high-fiving black children in north Minneapolis or judging dance contests.

William McGaughey’s analysis of the situation

Throughout this process, I began to see issues that separated me from others. The first would be: Are you pro-police or anti-police? My first inclination would be to be pro-police but in this case I was drawn into the other position. I was particularly against the police chief.

Why? It seemed to me that she was lying to the public. My common sense told me that her official statements about the two deaths on May 10th were public-relations baloney. Furthermore, she was putting on the tough-guy police act of telling the public: We’ll take our time in investigating this matter and you will just have to wait. When pulled over by a police officer, one does not argue. But in this case she was laying down the line to the entire city. I happen to believe in civilian control of police. I would not let this chief get away with such an arrogant position. I’ve seen city misdeeds before.

There were several things that I wanted the police to do in the aftermath of the two killings. First, be candid with the public. Admit mistakes if mistakes were made. Give a general explanation of what happened so that public trust is maintained. And do this fairly soon. Second, review the case from the standpoint of establishing better policies and procedures. Try to avoid making the same kinds of mistakes in the future. Third, if individual officers acted improperly - i.e., killed someone while not acting in self-defense - then punish them. The police chief did neither of the first two and turned the third decision over to the county attorney. In the end, nothing happened.

There were others who criticized the police. Most were African Americans. The leaders of the protest demonstrations came from that community. After all, the victim was black and the officers white. So the issue in Terrance Franklin’s death was that white-racist cops had murdered another young black male. The demand was to punish the racist cops, especially Luke Peterson who had shot Franklin five times in the back of his head.

I, too, was for punishment but under the law that decision is given to the County Attorney and a jury who might hear the case. Since the grand jury had decided not to indict the officers, there was little more I could do. Who was I to second-guess the legal process? The officers involved would not be punished. At most, I could vote against the incumbent County Attorney in the next election if he had opposition.

As a Minneapolis resident and citizen, however, I did have a right to demand better policing. I had a right to demand that the police be kept subservient to the civilian authority. I had a right to be kept reasonably well informed of what the police were doing. I also had a right to expect that the police would try to learn from their mistakes by analyzing what went wrong with the double killing and institute better policies and procedures.

With those goals in mind, I did personally visit with my City Council representative, who also happens to chair the Public Safety committee, to discuss police matters and found him generally sympathetic. I also met with the mayor, who has direct supervisory authority over the police, and found her noncommittal.

The main issue, however, was whether the problem illustrated by Terrance Franklin’s death was racism within the police department or poor policies and procedures. I came down on the side of the second possibility; most of my African American colleagues came down on the side of the first. Therefore, when the police chief launched a campaign against racism in the police ranks, that seemed to satisfy her African American critics. It did not satisfy me. It showed that the police chief was playing politics rather than trying to improve police practices. She should have tried, above all, to avoid another killing.

My position was that the police should follow certain policies and procedures consistently, regardless of a suspect’s demographic identity. If blacks were disproportionately affected by bad policing, they would disproportionately benefit if the situation improved. Evidently that is not how most Minneapolis residents saw it.

A July 4th discussion of race

If Bill McGaughey intended to be a champion of white people, he seemed to have run off the track in criticizing the Minneapolis police at length for killing Terrance Franklin and Ivan Romero. However, his general approach was to reach conclusions that reflected the facts. If white police officers unjustly killed Terrance Franklin, then the right thing to do was to oppose the killings rather than defend white people at all costs. But McGaughey wanted to get back to discussing race from a white point of view.

The left-wing editor of a neighborhood newspaper in south Minneapolis, Ed Felien, agreed to host a free-speech forum in Powderhorn park in south Minneapolis on July 4, 2014. McGaughey made it clear that he intended to talk about race. The title of his talk would be: “Stop hating the white people.” (See Brandt/Star Tribune censor news report on yesterday's free-speech forum.)

Around twenty persons participated in the July 4th forum. Many were aging veterans of leftist causes. A Star Tribune reporter, Steve Brandt, was also present. McGaughey spoke his piece and was respectfully heard. Some begged to differ and they, too, spoke their piece. McGaughey was invited back to the podium to give a rebuttal. There was an honest and civil exchange of views. Felien was an honest broker of political discussion.

Reporter Brandt’s story the next morning reported none of this. Since the race debate was rather unprecedented and claimed much of the time, Bill McGaughey thought the newspaper story should at least have mentioned it. He began a new discussion thread on e-democracy forum titled “Steve Brandt/Star Tribune censor news report on yesterday’s free-speech forum.”

McGaughey’s main point was that, even though many claim to want an open and honest discussion of race in America, such an event is generally ignored when it happens. The large commercial newspapers are especially guilty of this. Unpopular views are met by silence rather than discussion and debate. McGaughey was roundly criticized for his views expressed in the forum but at least his point of view had been heard.

Pointergate

In early November 2014, a truly bizarre scandal hit the Minneapolis blogosphere. A local television station, KSTP-TV, had aired a news story that certain law-enforcement officials were complaining that the Mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, had posed in a photograph flashing a gang sign. A young black man who had a minor criminal record, also in the photo, was flashing the same sign back at her. Law enforcement was claiming that this gesture would hurt its efforts to control gang activity in the city. (See Did the mayor of Minneapolis flash a gang sign in public?)

Bill McGaughey tended to agree. To him, it was a question of whether the mayor knew that her particular hand gesture in pointing to the other person was a known gang sign. If she did not, then he thought she could simply plead ignorance and move on. If she did, then it raised the more serious question of being disrespectful to officers under her authority who sometimes face a dangerous situation in dealing with gang members.

The mayor, however, refused to clarify the situation. Instead, the predominantly liberal-left participants in social media turned this incident into a case of racism. KSTP-TV was trying to besmirch the character of the young black man in the photo by mentioning that he had a criminal record. The overwhelming consensus of opinion was that it was ridiculous to insinuate that the mayor was making a gang sign. No, she was merely pointing.

The national media picked up on the story. Both the Daily Kos and John Stewart’s show on Comedy Central ridiculed KSTP for thinking that the mayor was doing anything more than pointing. Pointergate was the name given to the station’s folly.

McGaughey argued at length with others on the Minneapolis e-democracy forum that the mayor had been indiscrete but found no agreement with his point of view. Did the mayor flash a gang sign? He argued that, even though the mayor was pointing at the young man, the manner in which she pointed - the thumb held perpendicular to the index finger - suggested a gun. The police said this was a sign of a north Minneapolis gang called “the Stick up Boys”.

But the others who participated in this discussion thread insisted tht the mayor was only pointing. Rather, they said, the KSTP story was another attempt to disparage the largely black community of north Minneapolis and, in particular, a young man who, though having made mistakes in the past, was trying to get his life back together. Those who blamed the mayor were engaging in a kind of racial McCarthyism.

Such patent dishonesty eventually got to McGaughey. His messages grew increasingly snarky. “Don’t hold your breath expecting the bulk of posters on this forum - the DFL (Democratic Farmer-Labor) herd - to hold public officials to account for questionable behavior if the racial or gender demographics do not support it, “ he wrote. And again: “You Minneapolis DFLers need to learn engage in real discussion rather than just trying to silence your opponent or boycott the deliverer of unwelcome news. You’re a one-trick pony on the subject of race.”

“Yes, the mayor was ‘pointing’,” McGaughey wrote, “but she was pointing in a way that the police said was a gang sign. It shows the depravity of the liberal-left community to refuse to look at that possibility. It wants only to find racism.” The DFL party, which gets 90% margins from black voters in elections, has "race on the brain".

And finally he wrote: “Yes, as Connie Sullivan suggests, maybe people are tired of this discussion; and, yes, I will give it up. My arguments have fallen on largely deaf ears. This will be my last posting on the topic. The Chinese have a phrase: ‘singing to a cow.’”

a police killing in Ferguson, Missouri

Even though the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, seemed similar in racial terms to the shooting of Terrance Franklin in Minneapolis, McGaughey decided to sit out the protest demonstrations in that situation. There was greater ambiguity about who may have been at fault. The demonstrations seemed to be more about protesting racial injustice in general than about this particular case. Day after day, they were getting national media attention. The Terrance Franklin killing had received none.

Therefore, when political activists announced a protest demonstration in Minneapolis, McGaughey decided to abstain. His shift in position was signaled by a new discussion thread titled “I’m going over to the other side.” (Go to the bottom of this thread.) He did not want police killings to be turned into a racial crusade directed against white people. Put the attention instead upon police attitudes, policies, and practices that might be changed.

Does this add up to a philosophy?

If one assumes that Bill McGaughey, co-founder of New Dignity Party, was a lone-wolf representative of that party in the discussions of race in the e-democracy forum and elsewhere, what philosophy for the party would come out of those efforts?

Even though McGaughey harshly characterized his discussion opponents, he was, on the whole, a moderate in discussing race from a white perspective. He did not make black people the target of his criticism but rather the white “progressives” who let race distort their thinking and, of course, the police who had brutalized some blacks.

The plain fact was, however, that there was little or no interest in that point of view. Either one was a racist or one was not. From a leftist perspective, whoever expressed sympathy for white people as a group was a racist. On the other hand, there were white people who did want to carry the banner of the white race. They tended to be critical of blacks and were sometimes quite angry about it. The “mainstream” view was that these people were “racists” and “haters”.

The paradox was that the “moderate” position on race had no followers where the people with “stronger” views on race (mostly negative toward blacks) had at least gained a foothold in white society. Yet, it was difficult for these pro-white zealots to interact with blacks or others in society; their views were mostly circulated in closed circles of discussion. Efforts to gain elective office with explicit appeals to white people were largely unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League were beating the drums to warn people of the various malevolent groups in society, many of them racially themed. Their drum beats were picked up in the media as if they were objective, Consumer Reports-like descriptions of the various political groups out there rather than an expression of organizations with their own political point of view that was hostile to these groups.

the liberal and conservative white positions

The “liberal” or “moderate” position on race relations as embraced by McGaughey would focus criticism upon the “anti-racist” position of many whites and, of course, many blacks. It would ask that all sides of the argument be respectfully heard. Continued silencing of pro-white opinion is no longer an option if whites insist that it not be an option.

At the same time, this “liberal” pro-white position would not be locked into knee-jerk acceptance of everything whites do with respect to people of other races. The law should be enforced even-handedly. Unjust violence directed by police and others against blacks would be condemned. Unjust violence against whites would also be condemned. We should revert to a more traditional view of “equal justice under the law.”

The “liberal” or “moderate” view of race relations offers a transcendent ethic that says each racial group must stand on its own two feet and not blame others for their own problems. Also, whites should not accept undeserved blame. Slavery happened a long time ago and should not affect the current condition of blacks. On the other hand, the salvation of whites lies in cultivating white identity in a positive sense, resisting the suggestions of ill-meaning groups. Likewise, the salvation of blacks lies in cultivating a positive black identity. This is not a zero-sum game. One person’s gain need not mean another person’s loss.

The conservative groups supporting white identity tend to be critical of blacks. I would mention two: American Renaissance and the American Freedom Party. American Renaissance maintains a web site at http://www.amren.com which contains links to articles of current interest about race. It used to publish a monthly print magazine. American Renaissance also sponsors an annual conference that brings like-minded persons together. Speakers have included the leaders of European nationalist parties.

American Freedom Party, formerly American Third Position, is a pro-white political party that has offered candidates in several recent elections. This party nominated Merlin Miller, a film producer, for President of the United States in the 2012 election. On the ballot in three states, he received 2,307 votes. The American Freedom Party has also run candidates for the legislature in New Hampshire and West Virginia.

The pro-white conservatives go farther than the moderates would like with respect to criticizing or characterizing blacks. For example, Amren.com articles often report violence directed against whites by blacks and the higher black crime rate in general. They are also not afraid to discuss genetic differences between blacks and whites including differences in intelligence. It is this type of discussion that earns such groups the “racist” label from organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and its supporters in the media. The groups prefer to call themselves “race realists”. They dare utter truths that others cannot handle.

To the best of my knowledge, neither the American Freedom Party nor American Renaissance has ever been involved in violent activity; to the contrary, two American Renaissance conferences had to be cancelled due to violent threats from anti-racist protesters. Yet, the “racist” label attached to pro-white groups carries with it connotations of violence especially if there is any present or past association with the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis. Violent acts committed a half century or century ago are enough to taint any organization that expresses sympathy with whites and is disliked by the journalistic community.

The race realists should be commended for their integrity and courage. At the same time, they need to consider how their program could be implemented if their supporters ever came to power. Specifically, what good is it to know that blacks have lower average intelligence than whites or are innately more susceptible to criminal activity? What do we do about this, if true? The idea of genetic deficiencies leads to a conclusion that we would be better off without blacks. Do we kill blacks or sterilize black males and black females? Do we send blacks back to Africa or create Indian-like reservations for them? None of these strategies would work; neither are they desirable. Public policy should treat people as individuals. Therefore, the conservative racial position has an inherent weakness in the lack of a realistic program to follow up on their views.

What is politically more realistic is for whites to focus on their own problems and regain the moral high ground in discussions of race. Work on building up white people rather than tearing others down. Accept that we have a multiracial society but insist that whites have rights in that society equal to the rights of others including freedom of speech. Everyone is entitled to his opinion. Therefore:

Challenge the academics who advance insulting theories of “white privilege”, themselves being among the most privileged. Challenge the biased, ill-meaning journalists so set in their ways. Stand up to the “anti-racists” who hate whites. Reject the white-hating histories. Question the tendentious rhetoric employed in racial discussions. Restore white people’s legitimate pride in themselves and their race. That is an approach that both liberal and conservative champions of white people could usefully take.

This approach insults no one. It can be taken to the streets, to the churches, to the legislatures, and into homes. Its proponents can look others in the face. No one needs to be ashamed of being white. It is the anti-white haters, including some white people, who should be ashamed.

Bill McGaughey’s latest book, Identity Independence: A Manifesto of Personal Freedom, presents a coherent picture of what he, as a race moderate, would propose for Americans with respect to personal identity to lift us up from our racial funk. It might also be a platform for the New Dignity Party, which is as yet the mere semblance of an organization.

 

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