To anyone not predisposed to conversion, the gospel of whiteness obfuscates more than it reveals about the American experience. To begin with, we never really know exactly what whiteness is. This promiscuous concept sometimes appears as just another word for racist ideas, while other times it connotes power, material benefit, social opportunity, or just about anything else its adherents desire. In his book’s introduction alone, Roediger defines whiteness as a “racial identity,” an “ethnicity,” “status and privileges conferred by race,” “racism,” “white supremacy,” and “a way in which white workers responded to a fear of dependency on wage labor and to the necessities of work discipline.” This grab bag of meanings suggests that whiteness is little more than a deus ex machina lowered onto the historical stage to wondrously resolve a tangle of problems. Too wondrously.
Moreover, we seldom see how whiteness actually works in the real world. This reified concept hovers above lived experience, mysteriously bending the arc of history. The underlying problem is a paucity, or distortion, of supporting facts, which leaves Saxton and Roediger pounding many evidentiary square pegs into explanatory round holes. For example, Saxton excoriates the Whig Party in the 1830s and 1840s for its combination of capitalist bias and elitist racism, but cites as his main example John Quincy Adams, one of America’s staunchest opponents of slavery. Roediger misleads similarly with his jaundiced analysis of “freeman.” This term and its partner, “free labor,” indeed took on a racialized meaning in antebellum America that contrasted with the bound labor of African-American slaves. But it also became the central feature of the anti-slavery movement as it fueled growing denunciations of slave labor, prompted opposition to its expansion into the western territories, and inspired the founding of the anti-slavery Republican Party in the 1850s.
Both historians suffer the same blind spot. They portray a 19th-century America in which citizens either embraced black freedom and equality without reservation or embraced whiteness. This produces not a gathering of information and fair-minded analysis that leads to a measured judgment, the historian’s task, but a process where evidence is cherry-picked or twisted to buttress a predetermined conclusion. It oversimplifies the messy, tangled, multifaceted development of the American republic, replete with ambiguous motivations and unintended consequences, and replaces it with a simplistic morality play where all whites are racists outright, or racist dupes. The monocausal steamroller of whiteness history, lumbering about amid historical complexity, simply flattens the American past.
Last week, one of Ben Shapiro’s podcasts pointed out that among the modern left’s greatest sins is its reductionism – the need it has to try, not to boil down and condense this complicated world, but to just oversimplify it, to turn all problems, causes and solutions into absurdly oversimplified bromides – suitable more for sorting the world into believers and heretics than actually addressing anything.
Beyond that? “Whiteness” is to today’s woke mob what “Counterrevolutionary” was to the NKVD: a malleable, one-charge-fits-all that could mean whatever the inquisitor wanted it to mean to justify a verdict that had been decided in advance.
When everything is about “whiteness” (or any misbegotten “-ness”) and “privilege”, then nothing really is.
Modern American “progressivism”, like all its many forebears in the past 200 years, has been all about rallying people against boogeymen. From “monarchists” in the French Revolution, to “Wreckers” in Stalin’s USSR to the Wobbly’s “Bosses”, up through “the patriarchy” and “the man” and “counterrevolutionaries” in Red China and San Francisco in the sixties and seventies, and if you have a hard time distinguishing between ’em, join the club.
Today, the boogeymen…er, boogiepeople on the left are pretty much all the things that people who are included are told to be “anti”. “Anti-Racism” “Anti-Misogyny” (not just sexism, anymore – it’s the more active, more malevolent noun these days), “Anti-Fascism”, “Anti-Transphobia”, and on and on – all of which sounds like good things to be “anti”…
…and, unsurprisingly, when you dig into the “Root Causes” of all those nouns, all things trace back to “Western Civilization” in all its particulars: the Judeo-Christian value on the individual and their worth, value, rights and responsibilities and potential of each and every person, as a person with a mind, a point of view, and at the end of the day an indivisible soul of personal, societal, political, intellectual and metaphysical worth.
Those aspects of humanity are anathema to progressivism in all its flavors. The focus is on the group – the Marxists “classes”, the Nazi’s irreducible focus on race, the modern academic Left’s obsession with a byzantine network of intersectional identity groups. The individual is nothing but a vote (for now), an appetite, a widget to be moved through the production line of life (like Obamacare’s awful caricature of Progressive humanity, “Julia”). Progressivism is “Materialist”. Souls, individual intellects and thoughts and reams, all are ephemeral; humans are widgets that consume and produce, and whose worth and value (to those in power) is expressed via their membership in the collective.
Those widgets have a term. “Bodies”. Not people. Not brains. Not souls.
She’s “a gun owner herself” – which might be seen in several ways. Is “P”M moderating? Are they realizing that the culture war has slipped far enough away from them, especially over this past year, that they have to start speaking to people who need to be convinced?
And she’s apparently incredibly famous, since she apparently just goes by “Rashmi”. I’ve turned “Protect” Minnesota’s website, Facebook feed and other social media upside down, and not been able to find any reference to a last name, which is Seneviratne, by the way.
But even during the reign of the serial fabulist the Reverend Nord Bence, “Protect” MN wasn’t nearly extreme enough in its hatred of guns and (law-abiding) gun owners, enough for some people.
“P”M spawned a breakway group, “Survivors Lead” – basically a woman, Rachel Joseph, with a long history of progressive activism and a story; an aunt who was murdered, according to Ms. Joseph’s story, by a gun.
Quick aside: I don’t minimize anyone’s trauma over having a loved one murdered. But in the many times I’ve heard Ms. Joseph’s story, she’s never once mentioned a perpetrator, someone actually holding and using the gun that killed her aunt; that persons evil motivation, the legal fallout from the murder, whether that person was sentenced or not. It’d be wrong to crack wise – “what, did the gun animate itself?” – but omitting a perpetrator, his/her motives and the like from the conversation is incredibly intellectually dishonest.
Anyway – “Rashmi” and her apparent moderation are not going over well with “Survivors Lead”:
The extreme heckling the not-as-extreme about getting less extreme. That qualifies as “dog bites man”, at the very most.
Rather less so? There followed some more, er, ethnically pointed traffic on one social media feed (from which I’ve long been blocked) or another.
After which “P”M – operating through its usual social media persona, the omniscient third person that used to be Martens and Nord Bence – responded:
On the one hand, watching the agents of Big Left eating each other is one of my favorite spectator sports.
And if the biggest semi-organic anti-gun group in MInnesota (shaddap about Moms Want Action already) is pivoting from pushing Linda Slocum’s gun grab bill to highlighting the inequity of gun control (“Race, class and geography all play into who gets to have a gun and who doesn’t” – which is something every Second Amendment activist has known for 50 years) and speaking in the first “person” to the prudence of victims of violence to arm up, then in culture war terms that’s the sound of the first tank crossing the pontoon bridge at Remagen.
But…”white bodied privilege?”
What the flaming hootie hoo?
I thought for a moment – is this a shot back at the Rachel Dolezals and Elizabeth Warrens of the world, with their flip-flopping identities, by “actual” “people of color”, reinforcing the idea that while you might “identify” with one degree melanin or another, your apparent appearance still wins out in the great privilege lottery (which will, I suspect, get pilloried hard by the Trans crowd, for whom perceived identity is everything? I’ll let the fight that one out).
But no. It’s much less hilarious than that.
It’s “inclusion language” – slang or argot that one class of people use to track who is in, and who is “out” – to be sure. That’s part of it, and people are noticing:
Referring to people as bodies is a reminder, writer Elizabeth Barnes says in an interview, that “racism isn’t just about the ideas that you have in your head.” Barnes is the author of “The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability, The Girl Behind the Wall.” In intellectual discussions, theories about social oppression sound almost disembodied; “we talk about prejudice,” Barnes says, “like it’s just a matter of ideas.” The point is to emphasize the physical violence done to black people through slavery, lynching, and police brutality. In the case of women, the term “bodies” highlights “what happens to women’s bodies in health care contexts, in sexual contexts, in reproductive contexts.”
But behond that?
It’s a nod to the materialism of the left – that the mind, the thoughts, the indivisible soul of the indivisual human being is not merely irrelevant, but inconvenient to the obsession with identity.
Your melanin defines you.
In some ways its a cheap ad hominem – “of course you’d think that, you are (add a reference to your target’s melanin, or lack thereof)”. But pointing logical fallacies out to the foot soldiers of Big Left is a little like arguing salinity with sharks; it’s just part of the water they swim in.
So – gun groups eating each other? Good.
The debate contributing to the ongoing hijacking of the language? Bad.
The whole thing participating, in its own little way, in the further erosion of one of the ideals that’s made Western Civilization the most successful, and humane , civilization in human history?
Further evidence that the “state of emergency” is more about power and wealth transfer than public health: the ritzy French restaurant where Gavin Newsom (among many Democrat pols) entertained his friends in flagrant violation of his own quarantine rules, keeps on profiting from its special connection.
And as Megan Fox at PJM notes, the story comes from an unlikely source – a mainstream media investigative unit:
Yountville’s highly acclaimed French Laundry received multiple loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, totaling more than $2.4 million, according to an ABC7 analysis of newly-released data from the Small Business Administration.
The French Laundry received two loans that were both approved on April 30, 2020. According to the SBA, the first loan was for more than $2.2 million to retain 163 employees. The second loan was for $194,656 to retain five employees.
ABC7’s analysis found the company received 17 times more than what the average Bay Area restaurant received.
Other restauranteurs weren’t so lucky.
“That’s a lot of money. But, what can I do about it?” said Dennis Berkowitz, former owner of San Mateo restaurant Vault 164.
Berkowitz struggled to get around $318,000 to retain roughly 50 employees. The loan amount wasn’t enough to sustain his business, and he was forced to sell the restaurant in July.
“I’ve had a 40-year run in the restaurant business, so I consider myself fortunate,” he said. “I really feel bad for the next generation of restaurateurs because they’re screwed.”
The investigative team at ABC7 ought to win an award for this one. They uncovered what we have suspected for a while. Most of those COVID loans went to the guys with the big bucks who can purchase influence, while the little guy got screwed.
My hunch, on the other hand? Nobody in that newsroom will do lunch on Market Street again.
I mean, growing up in rural North Dakota back when only Al Gore had access to the Internet, even I knew what “uncle Tom” meant when applied to a black man – so naturally I figured someone in his position, Harvard grad and all, would as well. Clearly, so did many others.
And although I’m an Anglo from the northern Plains, I’ve known what a Coyote – a slang term for a human trafficker who brings people across the border, either as illegal immigrants, sex slaves or mules – was for quite a while now.
But apparently a Harvard education does one no better in this context:
Y’know what’s “sickening”? Having a bunch of people whose opinion is considered above the rest of the world by dint of being a “blue check”, who are given to lecturing the deporables about their cultural illiteracy, who are themselves so culturally illiterate:
Just remember that when Blue America starts talking about getting rid of the electoral college.
DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” article was, in a sense, an epistemological exercise. It examined white not-knowing. When it was published in 2011 in The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, it reached the publication’s niche audience. But three years later it was quoted in Seattle’s alternative newspaper The Stranger, during a fierce debate — with white defensiveness on full view — about the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s casting of white actors as Asians in a production of “The Mikado.” “That changed my life,” she said. The phrase “white fragility” went viral, and requests to speak started to soar; she expanded the article into a book and during the year preceding Covid-19 gave eight to 10 presentations a month,
This is verging on becoming, if not a full-fledged “Berg’s Law“, at least a corollary to the 7th.
Maybe now some of the “Shut it all down until there’s a vaccine and 50,000 tests a day” crowd will pay attention.
Trendy Warehouse District restaurant “The Bachelor Farmer” – run by Mark Dayton’s sons – is one of those places a big swathe of MInnesota’s non-profit/indurial complex was hoping to have dinner in a couple of years when the Governor lifts his “shelter in place plan”.
But no more. “Bachelor Farmer” is pining for the fjords:
It’s almost like God is providing an interpreter service for government union employees, non-profiteers and other urban progressives who feel they can ride out two years worth of shutdown: “Vape shop”, “Hair Salon” or “Small family store” goes in.
“Trendy warehouse district fine dining” comes out.
If you think fighting disaster with economic devastation is a bad strategery, this is what Channel 11’s weather talking head thinks of you:
And Sven? When you go on to talk about the “sacrifices we are making”, don’t tell it to social media. Go to the small businesses who are arbitrarily shuttered and tell the owners whose lives’ work is being destroyed while competing business are chugging right along, exactly how “in it together” you are with them.
The TL:dw version: A bunch of entitled, overpaid people blessed/cursed with fame, are virtue-signaling the rest of us by “singing” the worst song in pop music history  – a mewling paeon to socialism and atheism from a singer who himself became so embittered and disconnected from the world by his fame and wealth that it had become something of a cultural punch line before he was murdered and became the icon for the death of every baby boomer’s innocence – as they hole up in their Manhattan condos, California estates and rural getaways…
…as millions of people wonder how long their paychecks are going to keep coming, or if they will, and the rest of the country waits to see if the army of homeless that crowd California’s streets get completely ravaged by this new plague.
I think “ex-Beatle preference” is a key dispositive indicator of political outlook and personal attitude.
I suspect “progressives” prefer John Lennon. He was the angsty, prickly one, the one who seemed most prone to have a penchant for Sylvia Plath He died tragically, relatively young, and in the grand romantic tradition, illustrating and confirming the progressive’s innate hopelessness.
I’m going to guess conservatives trend toward the sunny, optimistic, irrepressible McCartney.
Experts advise washing your hands to avoid Corona virus, at least 20 seconds, long enough to say the Alphabet or sing Happy Birthday.
I can’t believe Democrats have missed this opportunity to expand the welfare state. “Because of the wealth gap and income disparity that has existed in America since 1615, and cruelly perpetuated by the Bad Orange Man’s tax-cuts-for-the-rich-only, our most vulnerable people – the poor – who are disproportionately women and children and persons of color and LGBTQ+ – are ill-equipped to survive this deadly virus. They cannot afford to let the water run all day long. We must immediately allocate billions of dollars of Water Bill subsidies to help those who need help most. It’s a matter of survival.”
Although . . . maybe the Democrats are having an internal struggle and haven’t figured out which of their principles polls the best?
“Letting the water run to wash your hands wastes water. Millions of fish and precious woodland creatures will die of thirst as Americans steal their water and run it down the drain. This species-ist attack on the rest of the planet must end today. No More Handwashing!”
I’m so confused.
Don’t give them ideas, Joe.
Also, as a sidenote to Joe: women? LGBTQ? The poor? People of color?
No mention of transgender people?
Where are you making them invisible? When did you become transphobic. ￼￼
In the old Soviet Union, people used to joke that they could tell when there was a shortage of butter, winter boots or heating oil was on the horizon, when Pravda would start running stories about how bad butter was for your health, how good it was to get your feel wet, and the benefits of a cooler house.
What conservative, when seeing the precious, twee pretense of “arty” progressives’ political statements, hasn’t been tempted to cut loose with a can of spray paint, a sawzall or an air horn, just as a statement of artistic criticism?
The grotesque caricature masquerading as commentary?
The sanctimonious preening masquerading as high-concept art?
“I don’t know how many of ya’ll Republicans out there got any balls about yourself, but they got that Baby Trump balloon down here on campus right now and I’m going down here to make a scene, so ya’ll watch the news. If you got any balls, come join me,” Hutchinson [said in a Facebook video]. “This is pathetic. I’m fixing to get rowdy, so ya’ll pay attention. I’m shaking, I’m so mad right now, but I’m fixing to go, I’m fixing to pop this balloon, without a doubt. Stay tuned. Should be interesting.” “Baby Trump” has been seen around the world where Trump has been, such as London, Buenos Aires and Los Angeles. Over $6,500 was raised through a GoFundMe to bring it to Tuscaloosa.…First-degree criminal mischief is a Class C felony in Alabama that is punishable between 1 to 10 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
There’s a legal defense fund for the guy, and it’s racked up a ton of money. He’ll need it.
On the one hand – it’s fun to think about confronting those precious fops physically.
On the other hand? A conservative should be showing some respect for others’ freedom of speech, not to mention their property rights. A person’s right to swing their fist ends where the other person’s nose begins. Fun as it is to think of the snowflakes who haul that excrescence around wetting their pants at the thought of someone disagreeing with them, meeting them with violence makes you no better than “Anti”-Fa. One meets bad, stupid speech with more, better speech – so if someone wants to build a “Baby Snowflake” balloon, I’m all on board.
On the third hand? Hey, look – it’s a red state, and the authorities are arresting and prosecuting someone whose politics they most likely agree with, but who is breaking the law and inflicting violence on other. Someone tell Jacob Frey that that’s how it’s done.
Although telling Jacob Frey how it’s done will probably get prosecuted as a hate crime.