So asks Kelefa Sanneh in the subtitle of “Beyond the Pale,” his New Yorker review of several books on white America, wherein he concludes we may be witnessing “the slow birth of a people.”
Sanneh is onto something. For after a year of battering as “un-American,” “evil-doers” and racists, and praise from talk-show hosts and Sarah Palin as “the real Americans,” Tea Party America seems to be taking on a new and separate identity.
Ethnonationalism — the recognition of an embryonic people that they are different from their neighbors, and the concomitant drive to live apart — is, as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote 20 years ago, a more powerful force than any ideology, be it communism, fascism or democracy. (…)
The imputation of racism to Tea Partiers has not intimidated or cowed them.
Why are the Tea Partiers not intimidated the way Republicans often are? Why is the charge of racism not working?