By Victor Davie Hanson March 28, 2021 American Greatness
“Whiteness is a public health crisis. It shortens life expediencies, it pollutes air, it constricts equilibrium, it devastates forests, it melts ice caps, it sparks (and funds) wars, it flattens dialects, it infests consciousnesses, and it kills people . . . ”
—Damon Young, New York Times contributor
“Over the past year, I have, of course, still had to interact with white people on Zoom or watch them on television or worry about whether they would succeed in reelecting a white-supremacist president. But white people aren’t in my face all of the time. I can, more or less, only deal with whiteness when I want to . . . White people haven’t improved; I’ve just been able to limit my exposure to them.”
—Elie Mystal, The Nation
Racism is the deductive bias against, and often hatred of, an entire racial group. It is often birthed by dislike of particular individuals of a given group that supposedly justifies, by extension, disliking or indeed hating all of them. The popular reaction against this widespread toxic pathology shown African Americans birthed the anti-slavery movement, the Civil War, the resistance to Jim Crow, and the modern Civil Rights movement.
But now there grows a strange new ahistorical “antiracism” racism.
One variety encourages holistic hatred, blaming all of one’s own unhappiness, indeed all of the cosmic injustice in the manmade and natural world—the very air, water, and earth—on a white racial collective.
Another constructs a purported racial pathology to encourage segregation and separation from all members of the white race, thereby limiting all “exposure” to a toxic people.
These are not just the idle critical race theory rants of intellectuals. They now are reified in racially segregated graduations and dorms and in systemic racialist reeducation and confessional workshops in government, the military, and private enterprise. In fact, the new antiracism racism is flagrantly directed at “whiteness”—the obsession of an America gone mad.
Barack Obama who, when a senator, filibustered the 2006 Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito now claims, falsely, the filibuster is a racist relic of Jim Crow, which it predated by at least 30-40 years. On the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) vowed to block confirmation of nominees based solely on their white skin color.
In violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the mayor of Oakland just announced race-based grants of $500 per month to be given only to poor “BIPOC” (“black, indigenous, and people of color”) families, excluding the white poor.
The latest multibillion-dollar stimulus/farm aid bill is targeted for all those in need—as long as they are not white. The latter are all ineligible.
The new antiracism racism, whatever its original intentions, unfortunately exhibits the historical telltale signs of its noxious genre: an a priori negative stereotyping of all whites that can then be applied to individuals deemed undeserving because they are white. It is a deductive doctrine used to justify racial bias and racial preferences, to enhance careers and profits, and to excuse and contextualize racist language and behavior.
Antiracism’s implicit defense is that the nonwhite have less power to act out their biases than do whites, while it “rights” an historical wrong. Therefore even crude antiracists cannot be harmful racists. Consult the government data on hate crimes, however, and one learns some non-white groups have a greater proportional tendency to commit such crimes against others than so-called whites. And how has a white lower-middle-class generation, born in the post-Civil Rights movement and the age of affirmative action, continued to enjoy so-called white privilege?
The Convenient Vocabularies of Whiteness
Notice how the term “white racism” began metamorphosing into “white supremacy.” The latter is a linguistic means of stating, without evidence, that “they” control everything and thus there is little need for demonstrable examples of white racism.
But “supremacy” itself proves a problematic rubric. What does one do when Asian Americans as a group make far more per capita than do whites? Or the 44th president of the United States was black—as is the current vice president? Or both the recent Democratic and Republican candidates for lieutenant governor in South Carolina, the first slave state to secede from the Union, were black?
After all, a true “Islamic supremacy” state such as Iran or Saudi Arabia, does not allow a Christian or Jew access to such power in their country. A racially supremacist nation such as we see in communist China cannot allow a black or white immigrant to be premier—any more than can North Korea. Even South Korea or Japan may not any day soon see a Korean president or Japanese prime minister of Mexican or Irish ancestry.
And yet “white supremacy” itself is devolving into “white privilege.” The newer term no longer requires proof that all whites are always supreme—only that they all, by use of the collective “white,” enjoyed innately unfair advantages over all others based solely on their race.
But finally “white privilege” will itself prove an unsustainable rubric, given the clear privileges enjoyed by millions of non-white Americans in business, politics, popular culture, sports, entertainment, the professions, and among the elite. Surely one should not have to argue that a white Dayton, Ohio tire-changer is innately blessed in a way an unfortunate Eric Holder or Jay-Z purportedly is not?
So “white privilege” is now morphing into just “whiteness” in a malignant stereotyping hauntingly reminiscent of the 1930 theories of insidious “Jewishness,” a term denoting a mythical and underhanded power that warped and “controlled” Western Europe—even as no believable charge could be leveled against individual Jews.
Infectious “whiteness” supposedly is what explains why the privileged Meghan Markle is unhappy with, or rather furious at, the royal family and the psychodramatic injustices allegedly done to her—as the former royal couple lecture the public on its sins from their $14 million Montecito estate.
The “whiteness” conspiracy similarly explains why multibillionaire Oprah Winfrey, who interviewed the couple from her nearby $90 million estate, not long ago was—or so she complained—treated rudely by a clerk in a Swiss boutique who committed the mortal sin of not recognizing Oprah, and thus not purportedly retrieving a $38,000 crocodile bag out of its secure case quickly enough to Oprah’s liking.
“Whiteness” often towers over even 5’11” Michelle Obama. Even as First Lady, when incognito in a Target store, she complained that a much shorter white woman did not recognize her and asked her, a taller stranger, to help lift down an item from an upper shelf—a phenomenon that millions of Americans encounter weekly.
Racist White Male Mass Shooters Everywhere?
It took the media and the Left about a nanosecond, and without any evidence other than a grainy video, to falsely label the recent Colorado mass shooter—later revealed as a Trump-hating Syrian-born Muslim—a “white supremacist.”
And it only took a second for the online mob and media to use his now falsely assumed identification to fuel a grand indictment against all “white men” in general—in the same old, same old unapologetic Duke lacrosse, Covington Catholic kids, and Jussie Smollett style.
Next, the Colorado mass murderer was immediately lumped in with the recent Georgia mass killer—as if that monstrous shooter was, unquestionably, a similar white supremacist. The two together proved a “pattern” of systemic white violence, most notably against Asian Americans.
All of these narratives, which are still floating around and widely accepted, are false.
It mattered little that the prior Georgia “white supremacist” mass-murderer was a disturbed psychopath and sexual deviant. In an initial questioning, the FBI found him unhinged rather than acting out a racist agenda. Sexual deviance rather than racism more likely fueled his attacks on massage parlors, where he killed six Asian and two white women, and seriously wounded a Hispanic male.
As far as the deviant Atlanta shooter being illustrative of an epidemic of white-inspired, anti-Asian-American crimes, the majority of such hate crimes against Asians have not been found, by a variety of metrics, to have been committed inordinately by whites. Indeed, in many surveys, African American males are proportionally more likely to commit such hate offenses against Asians. Nor do whites commit hate crimes in general disproportionally. Nor in the case of mass shootings, are whites “overrepresented” in the data.
The First Stone
Barack Obama was also quick to inflame the dramas—in the fashion of his unfortunate Trayvon Martin commentaries—by weighing in falsely that racism was one of the Georgia shooter’s stimulants.
Meena Harris—a Dr. Seuss canceller, Kamala Harris’s niece and campaign advisor, and the would-be Harris family memorialist—before the Colorado shooter had even been identified, immediately tweeted out: “The Atlanta shooting was not even a week ago. Violent white men are the greatest terrorist threat to our country”
Note the Harris logic: a suspect mows down ten innocents, and presto “white men are the greatest terrorist threat to our country”—never mind that the shooter turns out to have been a Syrian Muslim who emigrated to America in the early 2000s. The subtext of Harris’ thoughtless comments is something like “and we better do something about those white people.”
Her later “apology” for her judge-jury-executioner disinformation tweet proved far worse than her original libel: “I deleted a previous tweet about the suspect in the Boulder shooting. I made an assumption based on his being taken into custody alive and the fact that the majority of mass shootings in the U.S. are carried out by white men.”
Aside from the fact that Harris offered no apology for her lie, and had no compunction in stereotyping an entire group on the false assumption that the murderer was white, she also was entirely misinformed about her data. Again, according to most information on mass murderers, there is no evidence that whites are more likely proportionally to be the culprits than are members of other racial categories. In terms of interracial violent crime, whites both proportionally and in absolute numbers, are more likely, in comparison to both blacks and Hispanics, to be victims than perpetrators.
Why have we given up on the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr, that content of character rather than the color of our skins will arbitrate how we treat other individual Americans in a multiracial United States? And is the rejection of that vision the foundation of the new racism?
The Utility of Anti-Racism
What is driving this new antiracism racism? Cui bono? After all, a number of ethnic groups enjoy higher per capita income than whites. The number of white poor in absolute numbers is larger than any other impoverished minority group. The two most common interracial marriage profiles are white and Hispanic, and white and Asian.
For one thing, the new antiracism racialism is driven mostly by elite, white, progressive, careerists. Yet why, in white bastions like Silicon Valley or Manhattan, is there an explosion of elite private academies and a mass flight from the public schools? Is there real integration inside the nation’s richest and bluest ZIP codes, where support for public charter schools is low but high for teachers’ unions?
Medievalism offers some guidance. If a guilty party still wishes to enter woke heaven—or more mundanely to get a promotion or avoid being fired—but is reluctant to sacrifice his own privileged and tribal ways, he can still find cosmic recompense through the abstract: our version of a contractual endowment to the Church that once erased away usury or profligacy.
In other words, very privileged, very wealthy white people virtue signal anger over “white supremacy” as both a psychological and practical way of squaring the circle of their own largely unbothered separate and segregated lives. The irony is that by doing so, those with privilege castigate those without it.
By dreaming up an ever-growing vocabulary of clingers, deplorables, irredeemables, chumps, dregs, and Neanderthals for the white underclass, the elite—both black and white—squares the circle of owning an estate on the cliff above Martha’s Vineyard, or a D.C. mansion.
The Clintons, the Bidens, and the Obamas can live guilt-free and in splendor on the metaphorical barricades, faced off against the less virtuous, Bible-thumping, racist losers who never got with it and learned to code or follow the fracking rigs. This morality offset credit is the racial equivalent of the climate activist John Kerry’s carbon-spewing private jet, so necessary to ferry him from one green conference to another.
Call it exemption, penance, indulgence, or any other variety of medieval quid pro quo, but the white elite’s virtue signaling is as easy to spot as it is pretentious, opportunistic, and hypocritical.
Just as deploring whiteness or confessing to “unearned” privilege exempts the concrete behavior of white elites, so too does it exempt elite blacks from addressing existential crises in the black community that transcend white racism.
Or is it more troublesome than that? Do elites claim that it is racist to suggest the elite woke should at least channel some of their outrage and concern to the mass killing of the urban young (so often African American youth), the pandemic of fatherless black households and illegitimacy, and inordinate rates of criminality? Meghan Markle, as one of the new self-appointed voices of the oppressed, seems more fixated on royal insensitivities than she does on the soaring murder rate in Chicago.
There were other catalysts that shipwrecked the King dream and are supplanting it with Balkans-style tribalism and intersectional hatred. Under Barack Obama, the new idea of “diversity” came into its own. The old binary of white/black and the ecumenical effort to heal the legacy wounds of slavery, Jim Crow and de facto discrimination suddenly invited in a host of new participants, many of them with little record of discrimination, economic inequality, or historical grievance.
Diversity, in other words, redefined the victimized as those with a claim on non-whiteness and on the basis of superficial appearance expanded those with purported grievances from 12 percent of the population to over 30 percent.
Suddenly the impoverished undocumented Oaxacan, subject to years of maltreatment in his native Mexico, became a victim deserving American reparatory consideration the moment he crossed by his own volition into the United States.
So did the children of the multimillionaire Punjabi cardiologist, now dubbed “Asian” as if Indians, too, were indistinguishable from Japanese and Chinese-American who had experienced historical discrimination inside the United States. The Brazilian aristocrat, the one-third “this” and the one-eighth “that” brought millions into the equation, including Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Dolezal, Ward Churchill, Alec Baldwin’s wife, and legions of other socially constructed diverse people.
Class: The Forgotten, Ecumenical Divide
The explosive gains in bicoastal wealth in tech, corporations, entertainment, media, the professions, and sports increasingly rendered less important the connections between class and race. A LeBron James, by traditional class definitions, was a privileged near-billionaire elite who often shilled for the Chinese government—not a victimized truth-teller entrusted to lecture us about the pathologies of whiteness. So as the nonwhite were now often elites, racial identity became more, not less emphasized, to avoid the perception that prior racial victims were now class beneficiaries or even oppressors.
Soon some minorities began questioning the racial fides of other, usually more conservative Latinos and blacks—inventing all sorts of philological categories such as “white Hispanic” and “multiracial whites.” They were reminiscent of the old white racists of the past who had strained to detect “white blacks” who successfully passed into white society, and thereby threatened to expose the entire absurdity of racial castes. After claiming that race was not a construct but immutable, the Left began contextualizing and rebranding and re-cataloging Trump-voting Cubans, George Zimmerman, and any who did not meet their own benchmarks for racial authenticity.
Soon we were left with the silliness of multimillionaire CNN anchor Don Lemon pontificating, without evidence, that “the biggest terror threat in this country is white men,” or the far richer, Colin Kaepernick, of mixed ancestry, raised by two white parents, and previously fined for using the N-word on the playing field, now scapegoating his athletic descent onto a white racist society that ruined his career, even as “it” enriched him beyond the imagination of 329 million other Americans.
There are inequalities in the United States. Many of them dovetail with racial differences. But 21st-century cause-and-effect remains unclear. And the chief dividing line in the age of bicoastal globalism is now class—the new-old word we dare not speak.
In truth, the Mexican American tractor driver in Gilroy has more in common with the white auto-mechanic, and both with the black truck driver, than any of the three has with the woke Jorge Ramos, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, or the Antifa and Black Lives Matter hierarchy.
America is not a sinful racist mess, but a great experiment as the only multiracial, self-reflecting, and self-critical democracy in history that did not—yet—descend into tribal chaos and violence.