From the print edition of The New American:
The words “white privilege” are slung as an epithet by liberals of all races in order to undermine Western culture, make way for Marxism, and cause racial division.
“The white race is the cancer of human history,” wrote novelist Susan Sontag in 1967. Her position was no surprise. She was merely expressing the common leftist lament that white people birthed the civilization they hate, Western civilization. Precisely two decades later, for instance, race hustler Jesse Jackson, characterizing Stanford University’s Western culture course as too white and male, led the campus chant, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture’s got to go.” Yet this is nothing compared to more recent times, as the demonization of whites has reached a fever pitch with a phenomenon I have dubbed “caucaphobia.”
Sontag made no bones about why she was indicting whites, as the context of her statement makes clear. To wit: “If America is the culmination of Western white civilization, as everyone from the Left to the Right declares, then there must be something terribly wrong with Western white civilization.… The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone — its ideologies and inventions — which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.”
Sontag cut her teeth as a fiction writer, and her attempts at commentary were clearly her worst fiction. The eradication of “autonomous civilizations” is the story of man. China and Japan, like Western Europe, comprised warring kingdoms until they were united via warfare; the Zulus conquered neighboring tribes to create an empire — and then were vanquished after encountering more advanced conquerors, the British.
Upsetting the “ecological balance” is also quite human. As University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus of geography William Denevan pointed out in 1992 in “The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492”:
There is substantial evidence … that the Native American landscape of the early sixteenth century was a humanized landscape almost everywhere. Populations were large. Forest composition had been modified, grasslands had been created, wildlife disrupted, and erosion was severe in places. Earthworks, roads, fields, and settlements were ubiquitous. With Indian depopulation in the wake of Old World disease, the environment recovered in many areas. A good argument can be made that the human presence was less visible in 1750 than it was in 1492.
Before proceeding, I should address a criticism that could be leveled at this essay: that it defines matters racially. The reality is that things have already been defined racially by the Left, which today trades continually in identity politics. I didn’t start this fire — I’m merely playing the role of firefighter. Also note that this caucaphobia doesn’t hurt just whites. After all, this attack on “whiteness” amounts to an assault on Western culture, which means it’s an attack on our civilization itself. And that’s a ship everyone, regardless of race, creed, or color, occupies. Sink it and we all drown.
Currently, though, we’re drowning in racial demonization, which, tragically, is not a hard process to effect. For as the 1960 film Pollyanna told us, “If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will” (no, Lincoln didn’t say this). And, boy, today some people sure do look and find it in the white segment of mankind. Front and center, and everywhere now, are the usual gripes about slavery and human-rights abuses. As an example, relating the American history guidelines of a prominent textbook publisher, the author of The Language Police (2004), Diane Ravitch, reported, “European Americans, the guidelines suggest, were uniquely responsible for bigotry and exploitation in all human history.”
Bigotry and Racial Demogogues
The irony is that such a position reflects bigotry itself, as whites are being condemned for just being human. Consider slavery: It isn’t notable that Europeans and Americans once engaged in it. It is, after all, one of the world’s oldest institutions, once practiced anywhere and everywhere since time immemorial. What’s notable is that slavery finally ended — in the West, that is. So while whites probably weren’t the first to practice slavery, they were the first to eliminate it.
The same can be said of “exploitation”: Whites probably weren’t the first to violate what we today call human rights. But their civilization was the one that gave us the whole concept of human rights to begin with. Ironically, they provided the very standard by which they are condemned.
This article appears in the December 4, 2017, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.
Yet the racial demagogues, stretching human imagination, have now transcended these rather mundane gripes and have descended into the truly bizarre; in fact, it appears that, having established (at least in many minds) that whites are uniquely flawed, the only task left is to find solutions to the “white problem.” Just consider the notion of “white privilege,” which now is the stuff of college courses and seminars and is to be taken as supposition. White privilege, mind you, is the idea that all white people have advantages in our society simply by virtue of their skin color; thus, a white Appalachian with Mountain Dew-degraded teeth and hole-ridden shoes enjoys advantages a wealthy black doctor in a posh suburb can only dream of, the theory goes. Moreover, if you, as a white person, don’t recognize this “fact,” it’s only because you’re so immersed in your privilege you can’t see the forest for the trees. And then just sit down and shut up because you have nothing to add to the conversation. Of course, this notion serves to leverage ever more advantages over white people (affirmative action, quotas, etc.); after all, no matter how many pounds of flesh are extracted, whites will always have these nebulous advantages justifying ever more “balancing of the scales.” Hey, maybe we’ll even have reparations one day or perhaps a racial version of Sweden’s “Man Tax,” a special levy on men proposed in 2004 (it didn’t make it into law) to make amends for male violence. By the way, I’m amenable to either proposal (really!) — as long as I also receive royalty checks for all the inventions and innovations birthed by men/whites throughout the ages. I’ll pay my special tax with them and use the remainder to buy a yacht.
Then there’s the notion of “cultural appropriation.” In a 2015 interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers, comedian Jay Leno talked about how his Italian-descent grandfather — who only ate Italian food — was always amazed “that people would eat out of their ethnic group,” as Leno put it. Granddad would say, “Look at that, a Chinese guy with a hot dog! Look at that! A black guy with a bagel! A black guy with a bagel! A Korean guy with a pizza! Look at that!” Leno related. The comedian was evoking laughter, and his grandfather’s provincial culinary outlook is quite cute. Yet that some people take this mentality seriously, apply it widely, give it academic imprimatur, and use social pressure to enforce it is no laughing matter.
Yet while cultural appropriation is applied not just to food, but clothing, hairstyles, and everything else now, there are limits — it’s enforced only on white people. Consider how a 20-year-old Hampshire College student assaulted a visiting white basketball player this past March because the girl had braided hair. Two months later, a small but wildly successful Portland, Oregon, pop-up named “Kooks Burritos” was pressured into shutting down after the two white owners mentioned they got their recipes via field research in Mexico; they were accused of appropriating another culture’s “intellectual property.” Then there was the recent controversy over appropriate, not appropriated, Halloween costumes; Kim Kardashian and beauty blogger Jaclyn Hill were accused of appropriation for, respectively, dressing up as singer Aaliyah Haughton and wearing an afro (I have more of a problem with Kim Kardashian dressing as Kim Kardashian). And lending this lunacy credence, USA Today actually asked in an October 23 headline, “Is it OK for a white kid to dress up as Moana for Halloween?” I don’t know, is it OK for people without two brain cells to rub together to write news and commentary? Have we forgotten that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”?
Of course, cultural-appropriation charges aren’t leveled against Al Sharpton for using hair relaxer to straighten his hair, Wally Amos for making millions selling chocolate-chip cookies (originated by white chef Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938), or black conductor Roderick Cox because classical music was birthed in Europe. Nor was the principle used to defend elementary teacher Pam Nicolai, who in 2012 told two boys that they couldn’t play the part of Abraham Lincoln in a skit because they were too dark-skinned. So how far should we take this? Must restaurants of a given cuisine only be owned by those of the corresponding heritage — i.e., French bistros must be in the hands of French-descent Americans? Should inventions created by Germans only be available to Germans or, broadening it, those created by whites be reserved for whites? Jesse and Barack, please report to the Ministry of Culture and turn in your car keys, computer, and, well, you get the idea.
It’s hard to think of a more stupid notion. Guess what? “Cultural appropriation” is merely a pejorative for what America is all about. What do you think the “melting pot” is? It’s different peoples coming together, borrowing the best from one another and fusing into one new, and hopefully improved, people. In fact, this is the story of the world. Europe once comprised a multitude of tribes, such as the Goths, Marcomanni, Lusitani, Aquitani, Celtiberians, and Lombards. They don’t exist as distinct groups anymore, having been amalgamated genetically and culturally into larger groups. And, of course, most of Europe borrowed much from Roman culture, with concrete, our calendar, under-floor heating, and bound books being examples. This is how civilization advances, as Professor Thomas Sowell explained in his 1998 speech “Race, Culture, and Equality,” pointing out that
when the British first crossed the Atlantic and confronted the Iroquois on the eastern seaboard of what is today the United States, they were able to steer across that ocean in the first place because they used rudders invented in China, they could navigate on the open seas with the help of trigonometry invented in Egypt, their calculations were done with numbers invented in India, and their general knowledge was preserved in letters invented by the Romans. But the Iroquois could not draw upon the knowledge of the Aztecs or the Incas, whose very existence they had no way of knowing. The clash was not between the culture created by the British versus the culture created by the Iroquois. It was a clash between cultural developments drawn from vast regions of the world versus cultural developments from a much more circumscribed area.
Dr. Sowell was seeking to explain why some cultures are more successful than others. Yet this “two heads are better than one” principle would be forestalled and peoples would remain truly cloistered and provincial were cultural-appropriation prohibitions strictly enforced. The good news is that, being the situational-values set, leftists have no intention of applying their theory consistently. They like their cars, computers, and other luxuries too much — and they reserve their cultural-appropriation stigmas for whites.
The bad news is this stigmatization is still destructive. The Left has Balkanized us via the rapid importation of largely unassimilable peoples, euphemistically known as “immigration,” and then removed much pressure to assimilate by pushing multiculturalism. Now it further cements the mistake (a feature as much as a bug) by exacerbating the division with cultural-appropriation doctrine. It was bad enough when the Left replaced the melting pot with the “salad bowl.” Now the standard is that if the cauliflower touches a pinto bean, it’s the next Harvey Weinstein.
But division and destruction define the anti-white movement. Just consider some propositions its minions have made:
• Hunter College sociology professor Jessie Daniels wrote in a series of recent tweets “that the white-nuclear family is one of the most powerful forces supporting white supremacy” and condemned the “outright worship of ‘the sanctity of the family’ which pervades pop culture.” (I’m not sure what pop culture Daniels imbibes; perhaps she threw away her TV after Leave It to Beaver went into reruns.)
• University of Illinois math education professor Rochelle Gutierrez recently opined in a paper that math perpetuates white privilege.
• The Writing Center at the University of Washington, Tacoma instructs that “expecting proper grammar from others perpetuates racism and ‘unjust language structures,’” reported the Washington Times in February.
• Clemson University’s “inclusion awareness course” teaches that expecting punctuality could be “racist” and that a tardy minority’s “cultural perspective regarding time is neither more nor less valid than any other.”
• In 2014, the Obama administration — reacting to black and Hispanic students’ higher suspension and expulsion rates — issued new school discipline policies that essentially led to quotas in punishment. The result? Increased violence in many schools nationwide. By the way, what about the white suspension rate being significantly higher than the Asian one? About this we heard crickets — and properly so, since suspensions should be based on infractions, not the color of one’s skin.
Liberal Leverage on Blacks
The anti-white bigotry reflected in the above is obvious. But what of the effects on blacks, the group racial demagogues claim to want to help? Consider:
• The black illegitimacy rate today is 73 percent.
• “The average black high-school graduate has the academic achievement level of a white seventh- or eighth-grader,” Professor Walter E. Williams reported in March.
• Blacks score on average almost 100 points lower than whites and Asians on the SAT’s reading-and-writing section; this reflects the poor communication skills prevalent in the black community.
• As black commentator T.J. Holmes wrote in 2014 in The Root — complaining of rampant tardiness in the black community — “It’s Time to Quit Operating on CP [Colored People’s] Time.”
• Violence is already a problem in predominantly black schools.
Given that the above factors all militate against success, should we be sending blacks (or anyone, really) the message that the nuclear family, math, proper grammar, and punctuality are “white”? Won’t a violence-enabling failure to hold disruptive students accountable just increase disruption, making it even harder for the good kids to learn? Young black ruffians often stigmatize good habits by accusing their studious, disciplined peers of “acting white.” Now, shamefully, this message is repeated and reinforced — and given academic sanction — by their elders. As Dr. Williams has put it, if the Ku Klux Klan were given control of the schools, it couldn’t do a better job of sabotaging black education.
No matter who is hurt, however, the anti-white attacks continue apace. Colombian-Canadian singer Lido Pimienta has a practice of telling “members of color” to move to the front in her concerts and whites to move to the back; when a white female volunteer photographer refused to do so at an October concert, she was kicked out and fired by the event organizers — who then apologized to Pimienta for the volunteer’s “racist” behavior. Then there are the attacks on Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and other Founders for having been slave-owners. Yet these critics’ failure to condemn “non-white” slave-owners such as Islam’s Mohammed reveals that what they have a problem with is not slavery, but skin color.
What drives this anti-white movement? There are multiple reasons, the simplest being the quest for power. The Democrats were once the party of slavery and Jim Crow, but their passions, policies, and strategies have changed along with demographics. They discovered that the racial-grievance card was the ticket to winning non-white votes, then realized they could grow this bloc via Third World immigration (which has constituted 85 percent of our post-1965 immigration). With this bloc now substantial at more than 32 percent of the nation, they try to solidify it with racial-identity politics. So where it once was “Workers of the world unite!” now it’s “Non-whites of the world unite!” Remember when Obama urged Hispanics in a 2010 Univision radio interview to get to the polls and “punish our enemies”? He wasn’t referencing the North Koreans.
This is the divide-and-conquer strategy that, in nations once almost exclusively white, might have resulted in playing the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. In our more multicultural, mixed-race Western societies, and with old-line socialism having lost its cachet, class warfare has (to an extent) been supplanted by race warfare. Either way the result is the same: Increased leftist power and Western civilization’s destruction.
Yet such Machiavellian motives don’t define the rank-and-file anti-white majority, many of whom are white themselves. Their antipathy for whites is visceral; this is not surprising given the revisionist history and propaganda that abound today. After all, if I repeatedly showcased your sins and mistakes while downplaying your good points, how long before the town folk were chasing you with pitchforks? Yet there’s more to it.
Whites are today’s racial version of Walmart, seen as the dominant, most successful group and demonized for the sin of being such. Now, this perception itself is a result of bias, as Asians surpass whites by many measures; examples are academic achievement and that the highest-earning religious group is Hindus, who are almost exclusively Indian. (Note: Technically, most Indians, along with Arabs, Persians, and many Hispanics, are classified as Caucasian. When the media and man on the street speak of American “whites,” they unknowingly are referencing a sub-group: European-descent whites.) This has many effects, but one is relevant here.
One of the under-appreciated causes of anti-Semitism is jealousy, as Jews are highly successful. For example, as Dr. Williams has pointed out, “Jews are not even 1 percent of the world’s population, but they constitute 20 percent of the world’s Nobel Prize winners.” Now, envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins because it’s a very powerful emotion. A person can hate you for many reasons, but beware the jealous man. For he can only assuage his feelings by bringing you down.
There’s no question that the same factor exacerbates anti-white hatred. How can I be sure? First, I learned long ago that when someone belittles your legitimate accomplishments and will give you no credit, envy is the usual culprit. Besides, generally speaking, people are always jealous of the more accomplished. And given that racial demagogues have done their utmost to feed this green-eyed monster — and have claimed whites are undeserving of their success — it’s no surprise jealousy’s fires burn hot.
The bottom line is that whites just can do no right today. If they become experts in and purveyors of exotic food, they may be accused of cultural appropriation. But if their toddlers say “yuck” in response to the same food, the child could be guilty of “racism,” according to Britain’s National Children’s Bureau, reported the Telegraph in 2008. Dressing as minority characters makes whites insensitive, but not having enough minority characters in their movies makes them, well, insensitive. When the non-white proportion of the U.S. population or a formerly white neighborhood increases, it adds diversity, which, of course, is a “strength.” But when the reverse happens, as in San Francisco’s Mission District, it’s “gentrification” or, as the New York Times related it, the “bleaching out” of the neighborhood’s Hispanic culture.
Whites are always guilty for a simple reason. It’s the same phenomenon as when a woman, with an axe to grind with her husband, ascribes negative intentions to all he does. Then, even an innocent misstep is considered purposeful and the thinking is, “Yeah, that’s just the kind of thing he would do!”
What’s the solution? Black reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, who often tackles racial problems, has provided it: forgiveness. For anger is like darkness: The more there is, the less you can see. But upon forgiving, that toxic emotion’s darkness is lifted and replaced with the light of a more heavenly perception. Then, sometimes, what had been unthinkable becomes apparent. We may see that the one we long bore a grudge against did us no wrong, or that he had only good or neutral intentions, or that the injury we fancied so severe is just so much spilled milk. Sometimes even, dare I say, we learn that the fault lies with us.
Unfortunately, Christianity is waning in the West, and forgiveness isn’t stressed by academia, the media, and Hollywood. Instead, we’re treated to demagoguery such as the Latino Victory Fund ad in the recent Virginia governor’s race. Targeting GOP hopeful Ed Gillespie, it portrayed a white man in a pick-up truck bearing a “Gillespie for Governor” sticker trying to run down non-white children. It doesn’t matter that such a thing hasn’t happened. The hate-purveying demagogues are willing to stoke the fires of racial and ethnic unrest — which has killed millions through the ages — just for political power. Such is the wont of those who’d rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.