Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
One thing that the identity politics of the left have closed their minds to is that white Americans don’t really identify as white Americans, but simply as Americans!
But for the left, it’s not harmony, but a fight that they want. From The Washington Post:
By Jonathan M. Metzl¹ | April 29, 2019
It’s time to talk about what it means to be white in the United States.
That’s what I was trying to do Saturday afternoon at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Northwest Washington when I was interrupted by a group of white nationalists. Ironically, the protesters’ chant — “This land is our land” — served only to reinforce my point.
For too long, many white Americans have avoided this conversation, and we’ve done so for a reason: We don’t have to see the color white. Race scholars often argue that white privilege broadly means not needing to reflect on whiteness. White is the default setting, the assumed norm. A white American does not have to think about being white when walking down the street — while people marked as not-white are often noticed and surveilled. White people have the superpower of invisibility.
Yet with the rise of President Trump’s brand of resentment politics, American whiteness is increasingly hard to overlook. Trumpian rhetoric defines white identity not by shared values but by shared resentments. Whiteness, in this telling, is under siege. Walled behind Trump’s claim that the country is “full,” and his equivocations on white extremism, lies the notion that immigrants and citizens of color are usurping the privileges of whiteness. This narrative is then amplified by increasingly emboldened white nationalists like the ones who sought to shout me down Saturday.
There’s much more at the original, much of it a complaint about Republican politics, and a claim that poorer white Americans would be just so much better off under a Democratic government. Dr Metzl touts his credentials — “For the past eight years, I’ve studied how these politics of racial resentment have profound negative consequences for working-class white communities.” — but somehow wholly manages to miss the point! Notions of ‘white America’ stem not from people being white, but from the identity politics of the left that categorize other groups as being African-American or “LGBTQ” or Hispanic or “Latinx” or members of some other minority group.
A child of the fifties, I grew up during integration. My elementary school, in a small town, Mt Sterling, Kentucky, was integrated at the beginning of my sixth grade year, and there were really few problems.² While it might be argued that perhaps my childhood memories have been somewhat whitewashed — pun most definitely intended — I don’t recall problems that the kids in my school had with it, though I have heard that some of the adults did.
The object of integration was, as stated in the landmark case of Brown v Board of Education 347 US 483 (1954), to provide people with the opportunities of being part of a cultural and economic whole, rather than a segregated part:
We come then to the question presented: does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.
Yet in the attitude of today’s liberal politics, the segregation of people into discrete groups promotes a separateness of culture, and an “us versus them” mentality. Affirmative Action programs were supposed to provide members of discriminated against minorities equal access to public education and economic opportunities, but quickly became programs which defined people by their racial, sexual and ethnic groups, and in trying to provide greater opportunities for some resulted in the active discrimination against others.
White Americans long ago accepted the idea of integrated schools, not caring if the student sitting next to their own children happened to be black or Hispanic or whatever. Perhaps it was the lessons that white parents in my own hometown learned, that their children sitting next to a black student didn’t somehow hurt their children.
But if the idea of integration was to bring us all together as a cultural whole, the politics of today’s leftists are the policies of segregation. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) are counting on being black to attract black voters in the Democratic primaries. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, IN) sees himself as a potential beneficiary of homosexual voters in those primaries to give himself a leg up in differentiating himself from the other lesser-known candidates. Robert Francis “Beta” O’Rourke³ and Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) have practically apologized for being white males in the race, even though they had nothing to do with being born either white or male.
Many of the Democratic politicians are seeking their niche, looking for that segregated edge in a primary with twenty — is that still the right number? — of candidates. What Dr Metzl fails to see is that, with leftist politics promoting such segregation in identity politics, of course white Americans are going to see themselves as a distinct identity group. If black Americans are black Americans, with politicians using their race for particular advantages, why wouldn’t white Americans not only feel excluded by such, but see that there is a planned disadvantage being festooned on them?
Integration was supposed to end notions of racial separateness in our society; we were all suppose to be Americans, competing equally with one another. But the politics of today’s Democratic Party is to legitimize advantages sought by black or Hispanic or “LGBTQ” Americans for being whatever they happen to be, while concomitantly delegitimizing any perceived advantage for being white. Is it any wonder that a population being fought against by leftist ideology would fight back?
Dr Metzl is wholly committed to those identity politics:
One place to start is by avoiding what psychologists call “zero sum” formulations of race relations — in which there are “winners” and “losers” in fights for power or resources. Equitable societies are healthier for everyone, and alliances among groups with common socioeconomic interests (rather than identities) are more successful in achieving shared objectives. A white Kansan has more in common with his Hispanic neighbor than with a white Tennessean.
The trouble is that, while he states that “groups with common socioeconomic interests (rather than identities) are more successful in achieving shared objectives,” he is still talking about groups, not a great American whole. If “groups with common socioeconomic interests” are seeking “shared objectives,” is he not still talking about separate groups, even when based on economics rather than ‘identity?’
Unpacking whiteness also requires white people speaking openly — not by proxy conversations about immigration or guns — about the strengths and limitations of American whiteness. This means reflecting on white traditions of generosity and resilience, and not just the anxieties, biases and fears of white communities. It means talking about ways that white Americans can enhance or thwart American prosperity. And about how, to make America truly great, we need a more communal version of racial justice to emerge.
No, what we need isn’t “speaking openly . . . bout the strengths and limitations of American whiteness,” but to stop defining discrete groups as special interest groups. The more that the left coalesce around specific groups, the more they define those not in those particular groups as the ‘other,’ as the enemy against whom they fight.
What about the editors of The Washington Post? Dr Metzl is not he person responsible for illustrating the article; that’s an editorial choice. And what the editors chose was a photo by Evelyn Hockstein for the Post, of “white supremacists in Emancipation Park prior to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017”, showing two men, both wearing sidearms, and one holding a Confederate flag, about as controversial an image as they could have found. Dr Metzl was excoriating “whiteness,” and the editors were linking “whiteness” with “white supremacists.”
Yeah, no bias there, huh?
What Dr Metzl and the editors have done is to promote a policy which encourages everyone other than white Americans to fight for advantages and privileges, and concomitantly holds that white Americans should, and I hate to use the word, but it’s accurate nevertheless, surrender. The author and the editors are advocating a one-sided fight, when the real answer is not a fight but social and cultural integration.
¹ – Jonathan M. Metzl directs the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University and is the author of “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland.”
² – The Mt Sterling Independent School Board had been planning on the gradual integration of the school, four grades at a time, and it was scheduled to begin that year. However, DuBois, the ‘black’ school mysteriously burned to the ground in August of 1964.
³ – Not a typo: I have consistently referred to Mr O’Rourke as “Beta” rather than “Beto,” because it fits him better.
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