Whiteshift is a sprawling tome ... Kaufmann...is at pains to show that whites who identify with their group are not necessarily racist ... Ultimately, Kaufmann argues that the best thing would be to accept a moderate form of white identity politics as a more benign alternative to contemporary populism, which in his view is merely a sublimated form of ethno-nationalism. That can sound, written out, as a sort of brief for white nationalism-lite ... But Kaufmann has done something exceedingly rare among center-right thinkers, which is to write an intelligent, challenging, and in its own way, brave book about race and identity; one not meant to fire up partisans but to make an honest attempt to understand our present dilemmas and propose a solution. He won’t convince all readers, and reviewers more data-literate than I may be able to better evaluate the reams of surveys and statistics that Kaufmann cites in his favor. But at present, Whiteshift is the best diagnosis of populism the right has to offer, and presents compelling arguments that defenders of asymmetric multiculturalism should be prepared to answer.
What is it about the West today that makes it such fertile soil for right-wing extremism? On this point, Kaufmann is clearsighted ... There are some glaring omissions in Kaufmann’s diagnosis. Most notably, he gives short shrift to the vital role of anti-black prejudice and backlash to the Obama presidency in Trump’s rise. But his basic claim, that a root cause of Trump’s and the European far right’s rise is a sense of cultural dislocation on the part of native whites, is persuasive ... Kaufmann is mostly talking about research on race in America here—and he is presenting a straw man portrait of it ... Kaufmann does not engage with the literature in any sustained way ... the sense you’d get from reading Whiteshift’s middle chapters is that 'anti-white radicalism'—his term—is a bigger problem in the modern West than actual racial discrimination ... Kaufmann ends up betraying the liberalism he set out to defend ... providing intellectual fuel to the far right’s arguments.
Although I think that there are some things in this book that are plain wrong, and although I sometimes feel the academic straining always towards his thesis, I believe that this is an essential read for liberals ... You may not agree with Kaufmann, but you have to deal with him ... So where does Kaufmann go wrong? Take this example. It’s his argument that an essential part of American-ness has been its whiteness, even for minorities. So, for example, Jewish actors have taken Wasp stage names and even minorities, when asked to choose a typical American surname, go for Anglo names. But Kaufmann must surely know that the great-grandparents of most African-Americans were given Anglo names by their owners.