White people are not gods, they bleed

I’ve kept my mouth shut on this issue for a while, but it keeps popping up on my Twitter timeline.

The comment above was directed at a piece in The Washington Post, White, and in the minority: She speaks English. Her co-workers don’t. Inside a rural chicken plant, whites struggle to fit in. You can imagine the typical reaction to this sort of story. Journalistic organizations don’t arbitrarily select a particular topic. A story about non-college educated whites being demographically and socially marginalized is appealing for various reasons that have nothing to do with how representative the story is. The cognitive anthropologist Pascal Boyer would say that this is a story that we’d be interested in because it’s a “minimally counter-intuitive” concept: the dominant demographic experiencing what it’s like to be a minority. It’s interesting…but it’s not far-fetched.

I grew up in the 1980s in an area where the majority population was white, and the non-whites were black. I know what it’s like to be a minority. To be complimented on my English every week by strangers, and asked what “Indian tribe” I belonged to if I told people my family was from India (they wouldn’t know where Bangladesh was). In my adolescence, I lived in areas which were even whiter. Over 95% white. When many non-whites in the United States have to read about white people expressing worry and consternation because they’re not the majority and in a position of demographic dominance as if we are supposed to have sympathy, people with my experiences can get frustrated because being a minority is constitutive to many of our lives. Welcome to our world!

The problem is that we really shouldn’t reduce everything to a simple racial equation. Our color is not our world. Or at least that’s my opinion. If you are a frog-nazi, your mileage may vary.

I don’t know Rani Molla’s class background, and I won’t presuppose, but she managed to get degrees from Oberlin and Columbia. She’s now a data journalist for Recode, but she’s done work at Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. If she came from a position of less privilege, she’s been a sterling meritocrat, getting degrees from elite institutions, and transitioning to a career as a journalist in New York City.

The fact is that the piece above makes clear that the people profiled did not have “every advantage.” Yes, they are white. But in the economy of 2018 in the United States, and the developed world in general, they did not have every advantage. Though the story highlights their alienation from the Spanish-speaking majority at their plant, their class interests were interchangeable with the immigrant demographic majority.

In contrast, even South Asians who grow up poor in the United States, usually have an ancestral class background which is somewhat elite. While black Americans and South Asians may share common physical features as dark-skinned people of color, most black Americans descend from slaves, while most South Asian Americans are more likely to either be the scions of a genuinely elite family or a prosperous lineage from a rural backwater. If you buy Greg Clark’s argument in The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility, then you know that he makes the case that social status is highly heritable when you look across many generations, as opposed to focusing on single generation correlations.

To me, when I read a piece from a young Indian American about how impacted she was by racism growing up in the United States because she was different, and then I see the byline “Iyer” (substitute Mukherjee or some other surname that’s appropriate if you want), my eyes narrow. I don’t deny that South Asians experience and experienced racism. I have myself, especially in the 1980s and to a lesser extent the 1990s. And I’m not talking microaggressions, but racial slurs, intimations of racially motivated violence, and in some cases violence. In those specific instances and moments, my identity was flattened, and I was racially defined. The world became black and white.

But eventually, color returns, and that more complex palette is actually the vast majority of my life. There were literally two South Asian families (as opposed to international students, or an adoptee here and there) in the whole county where I grew up as an adolescent. So yes, I was part of a very distinct minority. But my father also had a doctorate in a physical science. I was known to be a highly sociable person, albeit on the nerdy side. I knew I would go to college. Almost everyone in my extended family went to college, even though many of them lived in a country where very few people went to college. I came from a family background where certain things were taken for granted, and tacit. Those things happen to put me in a good position for the 21st-century economy. Coincidentally, or not, I know that my family had skills which put them in a good position in the 20th-century economy, and also the 19th-century economy (though high rates of reproduction and partible inheritance results in the diminishment of land wealth very rapidly). Frankly, we’ve been on top for a long time it seems.

There were other kids I grew up with and knew casually. They were all white because almost everyone else was white. They came from families where the father had been a logger, or worked on a ranch, but eventually that work disappeared. They in their own turn assumed they’d find some job in the valley, perhaps go work at a plant in Pendleton or John Day. Even twenty years ago we knew that something was going sideways. The logging jobs were disappearing. But there were families who had lived in the area for generations, and these were kids who didn’t want to move away. These were kids who were never academically oriented. But they were family oriented.

To be honest I felt sorry for them. I never thought they had “every advantage.” Yes, no one ever yelled racial slurs at them. But they didn’t come from stable homes, and they didn’t seem to have a stable future. These were kids who were lost in a world that was passing them by. If the aristocracy of white skin arose with Andrew Jackson’s America, by the 1990s that dream was fading rapidly.

Poor people. The less intelligent. The less educated. If you dismiss them because of who they are, and you are a highly educated part of the chattering class, you are doing something that is very contemptible in my eyes. This is true even if the people are white, and you are not white.

In the early 20th century the ideas of Madison Grant were in the air. To Grant, only the white race, and to some extent Nordics, mattered. They were the creative genius, the spark, that was responsible for all of civilization. The creators and maintainers.

Those ideas declined in the 1930s. But their overall structure has reemerged in the past few decades among some progressives influenced by critical race theory. Just like Grant, these moderns believe that race is overwhelmingly important. In fact, that it is determinative in a deep way. Just as Grant did. Obviously, the ethical framing differs, but in some of the descriptive superstructure, there are strong resemblances. White people are as gods, who through the very act of operating upon the world create it as it is.

Just as I am an atheist when it comes to the supernatural god, I am an infidel in relation to this new social-political cult. Here I am thinking of a friend who is conventionally progressive and white, who wishes to order and foster a world where everyone has the same privileges that he did. As a point of fact though I have mentored him and provided some important professional connections and experiences. His own background is not deprived, but neither is it particularly privileged. I simply think he is wrong when he collapses the distance between himself and the captains of American industry because he has access to the same elixir of privilege by dint of his race. The gods exist on their mountains of capital. And most of those gods are white. But very few whites are gods.

We need to move beyond these reductive frameworks, at last in the higher realms of American public discourse. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in this stale philosophy.

Working-class white Americans may not be saints. But that is because they are mortals, and in fact on the way to be truly a marginalized folk, along with the world’s working-class, of all colors. When I read and see non-white professionals being contemptuous of the white working-class, I don’t see anti-white racism newly learned. I see classism anciently cultivated, but donning new garb.

Note: As a non-white person I have experienced racism. Because of my social and political views, I don’t think this is debilitating. But, for guilty progressives, I have been giving my Paypal link to donate money as reparations for white sins. So far no one has donated money even though I have a substantial Twitter following. From this, I conclude that anti-racism is highly performative, not substantive. Racial self-flagellator in the streets, but wearing creepy white sheets even under the sheets!

48 thoughts on “White people are not gods, they bleed

  1. Many terms that have gained currency lately, including white privilege, are extremely nebulous and ill-defined. This seems to be by intention: the user can make unchallenged and broad claims of grievance.

    It would be useful to explicate what white privilege actually is. What are the explicit advantages whites have by virtue solely of their skin color and not other covariates such as class? Asking the question doesn’t deny the entire existence of the phenomena, but it does call for more thoughtful and accurate use of language and I think is a requirement if we are to elevate public discourse from its current pits.

  2. White gods and brown children. Olympus must be torn down to earth. Its time that only colorful gods reign. Unlike the capricious Olympians, the new gods will dispense peace and justice evenly.

  3. Thanks, Razib, for your thoughts and for calling out Rani Molla on her self-serving elitist snobbery.

    WAPO seems to be doing some evenhanded reporting of late. Though they don’t always make it easy to find. Last year’s “‘How Dare You Work on whites’: Professors under fire for research on white mortality” cannot be accessed on their website with a straightforward keyword search. Though Google picks it up.

  4. To me, when I read a piece from a young Indian American about how impacted she was by racism growing up in the United States because she was different, and then I see the byline “Iyer” (substitute Mukherjee or some other surname that’s appropriate if you want), my eyes narrow.

    I don’t understand the significance of the names “Iyer” or “Mukherhjee.” I don’t know what they are “appropriate” of.

  5. @Roger Sweeny:

    In India, surname is usually a giveaway for one’s caste background. Iyer and Mukherjee are both Brahmin surnames, Tamil and Bengali respectively.

  6. re: molla. from what little i can tell she grew up in modest circumstances and went to college on a scholarship. so good for her for her success in life. but that doesn’t justify shitting on people with less focus by acting like they grew up with a silver spoon because they are white….

  7. Why do people never talk of “jew privilege” or “east coast privilege”? Or of “Albion’s seed privilege structure”?

    I can’t help but think that elite jews and east coast liberals benefit by diluting their perceived privilege, which they achieve by distributing it over all groups of whites, including those with little exposure to the good stuff. Is that why they pick and choose what forms of privilege to discuss?

  8. I don’t understand the significance of the names “Iyer” or “Mukherhjee.” I don’t know what they are “appropriate” of.

    Probably holders of caste privilege in India, “Brahmin Americans” to echo Sailer.

  9. Is that why they pick and choose what forms of privilege to discuss?

    it’s like a CDO or whatever where you repackage good and bad loans and sell them as good. what indian americans from upper castes and upper middle class backgrounds do. yes, they are dark-skinned PoC, so they foreground that. most americans are not aware or polite enough not to point out their class privilege, and are ignorant of caste privilege. so that doesn’t come up.

    conversely, the whites who actually benefit the most from ‘systemic white privilege’ today if there is a thing are the economic elites. but these are the best able to deploy the rhetoric of ‘white privilege’ in socially advantageous manners, especially when they transfer a lot of the toxicity to poorer less culturally chic populations.

    i’d argue the less educated whites who express non-PC views probably benefit less from the current economic system which most leftists are unhappy with than the whites who ‘know the script.’ those whites only need to say the right things at the right times.

  10. Basically, if you have a surname like Iyer, you are part of one of the most privileged groups on history since the Bronze Age who enjoy disproportionate privilege and prominence not only in India, but in many contemporary Western societies as well. If someone with a name like Mukherjee or Iyer or Iyengar starts spouting off about white privilege, they deserve to be slapped.

  11. Somewhat apropos to the discussion, I was just linked to this two-year old article. Basically, it covers a youngish South Asian American (Bengali) and his complicated feelings about having mixed ancestry. It almost comes across as if he’s treating the almost certain prospect he has a British great-grandparent as some sort of eldritch horror. Although he doesn’t come right out and say it, he almost seems to suggest at times that he believes he has “white privilege” due to this distant British ancestor, as he went through his life being perceived as “not that Indian” because he was kinda fair, which in turn wasn’t – pardon the pun – fair.

    Regardless, while I believe it was from the heart biographical, it was an odd read from the U.S. context, since – though colorism undoubtedly exists – African Americans don’t live a life of existential horror due to having some white ancestors (even though they undoubtedly included the direct owners of other ancestors). I don’t know enough about the Desi community though in general to know if this sort of willing ignorance of potential British ancestry is common in South Asia.

  12. @Karl Zimmerman

    Blue eyes in India well predate the British Raj (they are not very common, but they are hardly freakish), so I don’t know why Mr. Sen is so sure he has British ancestry. He does say the following:

    Shortly after graduating college in 2014, my curiosity prompted me to take a DNA test. Now, I have a number on a computer screen —- falling, as I suspected, somewhere between 1/16 and 1/8 — that indicates I have some blood from the British Isles.

    Is this slam dunk evidence for British ancestry? I confess I don’t know. Razib and others who know something about genetics can comment.

    To the larger point, I agree that these attitudes are weird (and the product of millenial America.) I don’t know of people in India who suffer from this kind of angst, whatever be their ancestry. Historically speaking, Indians with any kind of British (or white in general) ancestry tended to gravitate to their own tribe of so-called “Anglo Indians”. Not only was there no shame or angst about this, but they tended to identify completely with the rulers of the Raj and sort-of look down upon the natives; they tended to be endogamous as every other caste in India.

  13. Is this slam dunk evidence for British ancestry? I confess I don’t know. Razib and others who know something about genetics can comment.

    i think that this is likely british ancestry, yes. the physical features aren’t really telling, as you say.

    and yes, i too think this is written by someone who is channeling an american viewpoint. that being said, indians themselves often looked down on ‘half-castes’ because so many came from ‘disreputable’ relationships. if a british person married into a princely family, i don’t think that’s an issue. but if your great-grandparent was the product of an extra-marital affair with a british traveler or soldiers, that might not be something one wants to highlight….

  14. Rani Molla is heaving from the exertion. The grapefruit-sized rubble-chunk of Brooklyn brownstone is still in her hand. She looks down at the rail-thin body of the eleven-year old Nuyorican girl. Nari has finally succeeded in messily braining the girl during two minutes of starvation-weak desperate blows. Near the still-twitching arm of the girl lies a shattered one-third filled jar of peanut butter. Rani bends over, and, barely controlling her own shaking, picks the glass shards out of the life-sustaining brown goo.

    Rani hears, off in the distance, the boom of Euro-supplied artillery shooting westward from Todt Hill. Up on the hill, Edison Indians and the Black&White Yankees are frantically working side by side, shoulder-to-shoulder, loading the big guns, yelling, “Remember Sarajevo!” and “Multi-Culti Forever!” and “John Brown’s Body!”, as they throw fire at the Russian-backed Heartland Hordes advancing around the south end of the Watchung.

    Rani suddenly remembers herself back in her comfortable well-fed days of 2018–can it really have been just three short years ago? She thinks to herself, “Maybe in 2018 I should have politically aligned with the 99% Class Advance, and worked together with the majority of sympathetic whites to defeat the small band of uber-Kleptocrats, instead of me shrieking and obsessing on dumbshit, zero-sum, skin-color essentialism.”

    Then, the blinding flash.

    Beijing.han announces that the “Order From Heaven” campaign has succeeded. Three 3,000-foot submarines ascend in New York Harbor, filled with 200,000 colonists, “Flowers of the Sea”. First order of business: cart away the 5 million corpses created by the neutron bomb.

  15. Razib, Frog et all; have you encountered more bigotry from the post modernists (what Maajid calls the “regressive left”) or from conservatives?

    I have overwhelmingly observed it as coming more from post modernists than from conservatives in my life time.

    Many people (conservatives included) have imperfections in their understanding, thought process, intuition, empathy. I am not referring to these things. Only bigotry.

    Would it be accurate to say that the main threat to ethnics and minorities comes from jealousy? If so, is it more useful to call it jealousy versus “racism”, “prejudice”, “bigotry”, “white supremacy”, “sectarianism”, “imperialism”, “exploitation”, “oppression”, “hegemony” etc?

  16. I am actually sympathetic to the people who have the difficulty picking up a second or third language. In my former job they posted me short term in Netherlands, Taiwan, and Qatar, and I had to travel to Germany. I could never pick the language, but my wife could pick the accent and language. The situation was particularly worse when I went to English medium schools at seventh grade when I spent 4 years picking up conversational English. I am positive this girl will speak Spanish if she could.

    I understand that this is not the topic you are discussing, but I am positive that both the citizens and the immigrants will converse more if they could.

    The other issue is globalism. It is much more easier for me and you traverse this divide than most Americans. In many IPO pitches in front of US and increasingly, Chinese funds I see a lot more more globalists and their children. Almost no sons of soil.

  17. re: bigotry.

    1) conservative racism is probably because of who i am
    2) liberal racism is probably because of i am not who they want me to be

    a lot of the low level standard issue racism isn’t ideological, and from an earlier era.

    since i’m a ‘public conservative’ the only conservatives who are racist/racialist against me are frog-nazis. because i’m not on the same ideological page as many liberals sometimes they say kind of racist stuff as digs (ie my english isn’t good in terms of writing, or i’m brainwashed and don’t have ability to discern the truth, etc.).

  18. You include an image of J.D. Vance’s autobiography. He grew up half an hour away from the college town that I grew up in, in a medium sized industrial city which in the same county, and he is close to my age. And his account of his side of the tracks was illuminating and the factual observations he made, at least, rang true, although it inspired no great sympathy for “his people.”

    The primary “ethnic” divide in middle and high schools (and my school district more generally) was between his white working class Appalachian community which lived in the “outlying areas” and my upper middle class white one that lived in the town proper.

    The divide was intense and bitter. The shotguns and rifles in their pickup trucks were implied threats. KKK robes were brought to school on occasion for the usual intended use. Fights broke out frequently, with them initiating and winning the physical fights and then being punished by school authorities and police. Many of them ended up in jail or prison. I have no idea how the football coach, presiding over pretty much the only institution in the school that crossed this divide, kept the peace although it helped that he was someone who through marriage had a foot in both camps, and that he had an imposing bark and muscles to match.

    Most of “us” went to college. They and their parents didn’t value education and felt discriminated against in the school system (except in the shop, home economics, and vocational agriculture classes). The biggest clubs in school were the Future Farmers of America and the Future Homemakers of America, which “they” almost all segregated by sex into and joined whether they were farmers or not.

    One quirk of how this played out was how it influenced racial divisions. Every single non-white or non-Christian person in the entire school district that I knew (and almost everyone who was not a “white Evangelical Christians”) lived in the town proper, had a family was associated with the local college, the school district, the hospital or a small business in the town, and was part of “us” (which isn’t to say that “us” didn’t include a lot of children of low level working class employees in those institutions, hospital orderlies, college groundskeepers, janitors, cooks and waitstaff in “ethnic” restaurants, etc.). For “us”, someone who was Asian (Vietnamese, South Asian, East Asian, whatever) or black or Hispanic could reliably be trusted to be on our side in any situation.

    “We” shared values, even though that was a big tent. The local college was it is one of the more conservative colleges in the country and family politics ranged from moderate Soviet communist to Republicans (in the mold of George H.W. Bush, not Trump) and adhered to many religions some Christian and some not (but none “white Evangelical”). Still, the values we had in common overwhelmed our differences in the face of the differences between “our” values and “theirs”. “We” valued education. “Their” families who narrowly outnumbered us voted against all efforts to fund the schools (and there were no private high school alternatives within a hour’s drive of our school and home schooling wasn’t a thing then except for child movie stars and children with parents in a circus). “We” didn’t consider getting married at 16-18. ‘We” cared about telling the truth and believed in evolution. “We” listened to rock music instead of country. “We” opposed using physical force to settle differences. “We” weren’t part of a culture of honor. “We” didn’t celebrate the Confederacy and didn’t embrace white supremacy.

    It was tribal and there were only two sides each united, even though “we” were immensely diverse, and “they” were a monoculture.

    Working-class white Americans may not be saints. But that is because they are mortals, and in fact on the way to be truly a marginalized folk, along with the world’s working-class, of all colors. When I read and see non-white professionals being contemptuous of the white working-class, I don’t see anti-white racism newly learned. I see classism anciently cultivated, but donning new garb.

    Yes. They are in a meaningful sense marginalized, although they have a much easier time “passing” as members of a non-marginalized people for a while, or even basically joining a different ethnicity and abandoning their own, if they are determined to do so as J.D. Vance did.

    And, yes, there is contempt. But, just as much, the wise words of Yoda apply, ““Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”

    The same thing is happening on their side, but sooner. They know that they are stuck in their small towns forever unless they do something dramatic which they don’t plan on doing, that they will be comparative economic failures for their entire lives with periodic bouts of unemployment, that their marriages are many times more likely to fail than ours (in part due to the economic issue), that their experience raising their children will be fraught and likely to include social services intervention (again, in part due to the economic issue), that they have a good chance of spending time in a cell, and that most people with power in their world think that their values are shameful. So, they lash out in advance.

    Still, when you and your friends in your time have been beat up on and left bruised and bloody and had loaded guns pointed at you one time too many by them, the fear=> anger=> hate=> suffering cycle begins and if that comes out as contempt in media that “they” don’t even read, that is a deescalation of the hostilities in the ongoing culture war by several notches.

    Like my fellow Obie, Molla, my gut instinct is that “their” culture is a dysfunctional and dangerous anachronism ill suited to modern life in the USA that really should be obliterated sooner than later – not genocidally obviously, but by winning converts especially among the young and by waiting for those who won’t change to die. Gaining an anthropologist’s perspective isn’t easy when the intercultural clashes are personal and threatening. There are probably better approaches to this deep white ethnic conflict in America. But, most most of them have to come within their community (and ours) internally with us changing ourselves, rather than one imposing change on the other to really stick. Even when public expressions of what the dominant culture (mine) finds deplorable about the subordinate culture (theirs) have been successfully suppressed and indoctrinated against for decades, it just takes one prominent spark (like Trump’s election) to reveal that below the surface not much has changed at all.

    I wonder if “they” think that deep down we share the values that they do (which of course, “we” don’t) and think we just do a better job of covering it up with lies. Perhaps that’s where the lack of concern about truthfulness comes from.

    One last aside. For reasons lost to history, almost all of the South Asians at Oberlin, regardless of the country they grew up in or have relatives from, are Muslims or from Muslim families, and almost everyone who is Muslim or from a Muslim family is either South Asian or an African-American Muslim convert (one of my big accomplishments in student government at Oberlin was to win Ramadan and menu accommodations for them from the college dining service). I wonder if Molla is?

  19. 1) to some extent i think the idea that lower class whites can transcend and shed their past is a little too pat. it’s often quite obv. that these people are less ‘polished’ even decades later, and they themselves are often quite conscious of all the things they don’t get/miss. clark’s work suggests, in fact, there’s something deep there that sticks through the generations.

    2) u r arguing for a form of ‘respectability politics’ for appalachian whites. i’m conservative, so i’m OK with that. but liberal whites need to apply it outside of just white people if they want to be consistent. i don’t think they really want to be consistent though. there’s one standard for white people, and one for non-whites. about white people many liberal whites and well off non-whites are ‘harshly conservative’ in terms of asking why they didn’t succeed through merit. after all, they are white, and there’s nothing holding them back.

    using the same arguments about the black underclass though is totally taboo today on the left, and even receding on the right. it’s like the whole topic is just being brushed aside, with the exception of a few ppl like glenn loury.

  20. While I totally agree that those among the Iyers and Mukherjees who leverage their dark skin as a proxy for lack of privilege need to be called out, I just wish to propose that this isn’t a different phenomenon specific to Indian Brahmins, rather just a special case, or a corollary, of how progressivism operates.

    I mean, is this really a separate phenomenon from a private-school educated east coast American woman, who does her undergrad in Princeton and PhD in Harvard, all the while benefiting from “women in STEM” type support, getting to lecture midwestern blue collar men or even homeless men on male privilege? Or something like:

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/professor-slams-hegemonic-masculinity-of-homeless-men/

    Postmodernism mentioned by anan might have something to do with it – the postmodern framework liberates you from having to worry about empiricism, and then moral calls are outsourced to a simple categorical calculus, leaving you with a big menu of “approved bigotry” to practise.

  21. There’s no way for anyone who hasn’t grown up suffering under deep multi-generational family dysfunction to really feel the debilitation. It’s a psycho-*phsyical*, actually *embodied* pre-defeat that is literally beaten into the infant’s basic myelination patterning. And there’s no shortage of this dysfunction in white families. Cry for those children, and the adults they become. They are inside an emotional hell from which there is no hope of entire escape. Even if they claw or luck their way to the therapist’s couch, the demon hand of defeated patterning is always just about to grab their ankle again.

    What makes me really sad and frustrated about SJWs is that they seem not to be even slightly aware that their greatest power to effect the change the say they want can only be gained through Ghandi and ML King’s rootedness in deep Compassion for their adversaries. Without compassion, there is only necrophilial combat, with no progress toward Life Unfolding Together. To seek this mutual improvement is where reason and religious feeling overlap.

    Kudos to Razib for very publicly recognizing and acknowledging the econo-psychic suffering of the kids he grew up with. Here he cans the tribalism and performs good humane work toward realizable Hope.

  22. It’s true whites have certain advantages and non-whites disadvantages. But people should stop using the word “privledge.” Here’s why.

    Privilege typically is used to refer to an elite minority who has wealth handed to them not a majority. White people are not an elite minority they represent about 64% of Americans (till the last 40 years, it was always close to 90%).

    People of color experience prejudice, generational disadvantage (not all of them have this) that whites don’t but that doesn’t make whites privileged. Things are taken away from minorities, things are not handed to whites.

    The disparity between whites & minorities isn’t due to things given to whites it is caused by things taken away from non-whites. “Privileged” people have things handed to them.

    The Jim Crow South might demonstrate this. Were whites in the Jim Crow South “privileged”?

  23. “White people are not gods, they bleed.”

    Hey now, my (white) wife IS a goddess. I guess that makes my children half-gods/goddesses or Nephilim, maybe?

    All joking aside, I’ll be brutally frank. I am ethnically East Asian and (sort of) immigrated to the U.S. while I was young. I experienced virtually no racism from whites in this country. This whole “white supremacy” thing just baffles me, given how much the government and other institutions in this country bend over backwards to be inclusive toward minorities. E.g. Try being a small business contractor for the federal government and find out.

    Most of the “racism” I encountered in this country has been from blacks, against whom I fought incessantly growing up, because black youths were the main culprits who liked to victimize white and Asian children with violence whenever they had the misfortunate of converging on the same spot.

    I see now that interracial violence and attempt at domination has reached colleges: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/11/the-surprising-revolt-at-reed/544682/

    These days I am bewildered by my country, the America that I signed up for and defended all these years. It’s become a bizarro-land where blacks intimidate whites and Asians all the while the establishment institutions coddle and privilege the former and blabs about combating “white supremacy.” In the mean time Jewish elites are screeching about “another Holocaust” under “fascist” Trump all the while they are comfortably ensconced in and dominate the major institutions of power and economic privilege.

    All of this smacks of communist elites riling up children to launch a perpetual revolution against the middle class and families in order to exterminate counter-revolutionaries, an American “Cultural Revolution.”

  24. @Twinkie

    But it’s not so baffling, is it? The dynamic you describe arises from liberals’ refusal to accept that MLK’s dream of equality for blacks (and maybe other NAMs) is unattainable. White men become scapegoats. But the problem persists. So there’s a pile on, and when this doesn’t fix the problem, the liberals have no choice but to continue ratcheting up their rhetoric to drown out reasoned voices. Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire Of The Vanities captured this phenomenon quite well way back in the 1980’s.

  25. @RW:

    The dynamic you describe arises from liberals’ refusal to accept that MLK’s dream of equality for blacks (and maybe other NAMs) is unattainable.

    Both sides need to chill and accept that while solid progress has been made towards achieving equality, this is a process that must play out for decades more, if not longer.

    Both sides assume mistakenly that if total equality were possible, it would have been achieved by now, even though de jure racial discrimination ended not too long ago.

    The left therefore jumps to the conclusion of insidious racism, and your side (sorry if I’m being presumptuous, but I’m just reading your comment literally) jumps to the conclusion of intrinsic genetic inequality.

  26. i think that this is likely british ancestry, yes.

    Thanks for the clarification, Razib. And I agree about Indians looking down on half-castes, though I think it’s mainly illegitimacy rather than than race that bothers people in (very) conservative India.

  27. @ohwilleke
    Like my fellow Obie, Molla, my gut instinct is that “their” culture is a dysfunctional and dangerous anachronism ill suited to modern life in the USA that really should be obliterated sooner than later – not genocidally obviously, but by winning converts especially among the young and by waiting for those who won’t change to die.

    But this is genocidal language that you’re using, suggesting that their culture needs to be “obliterated”-you are careful to clarify that you don’t favor committing genocide, but what if they don’t view their culture as dysfunctional and dangerous and continue to live it? What then? What are you going to do about it? You say their culture is dangerous, so it is clear that you view it as a threat to your safety. How will you defend yourself from this threat that you have identified, especially if this threat doesn’t simply go away as you have hoped? What if the threat actually seems to grow, either demographically or through political power?

    Annihilationist and eliminationist language was long used in reference to Jews in late 19th and early 20th century Central Europe of Austria-Hungary and the German Empire by the likes of Richard Wagner, Karl Lueger, and others, but those who used it frequently took pains to clarify that this did not mean killing the Jews: it meant converting them to Christianity, getting them to abandon their customary dress, dietary laws, traditions, religious practices, and their culture and lifeways generally. This sounds like what you are proposing with words like “obliterate” and “dysfunctional anachronism”. Those Europeans, including the preeminent anthropologists of the day, viewed the Jewish religion and culture as an anachronism and a fossil too: ideally, its people would abandon their traditional, outdated ways and become modern.

  28. Razib, do you know anything about Bangladeshi American social mobility? I know that compared to Indians and Pakistanis, Bangladeshis are at a lower socioeconomic position, but is that changing?

  29. @Numinous

    “Both sides need to chill.”

    It’s only the pc left that needs to chill. It’s only the pc left that is hiring unstable hate-filled people like Sarah Jeong or this Rani Molla–and getting away with it. Hereditarians could be wrong, but they are not, for the most part, out of control.

  30. @Razib,

    What do you think of Sarah Joeng? If you haven’t read up on her (from multiple perspectives), please do before replaying. I don’t always agree with you but I know you’re a good thinker so I want to know your opinion.

    I’ve thought about it a lot. The accusations against her were exagerated, taken out of context. But I haven’t found any of the defenses for her to be totally legitimate. I can’t belief mainstream society sees her behavior as ok and un-offensive.

  31. Both sides need to chill

    Of course an armistice favors those who are already in power.

    this is a process that must play out for decades more, if not longer.

    This sounds like , “Don’t fight us while we make things worse for you.”

    Both sides assume mistakenly that if total equality were possible, it would have been achieved by now, even though de jure racial discrimination ended not too long ago.

    You do realize that minorities are now legally privileged, right? Especially over the “wrong” kinds of whites?

  32. I just recognized last night while falling asleep that the title of the post is a reference to a long ago favorite movie, the first one I liked with Sean Connery. It inspired me to check out his Bond movies, but I learned that my gut instinct, likely based on tribal prejudice (which was reinforced by the kind of elementary and jr. high experiences that ohwilleke decribed a couple of day ago) had been correct. Following Bond, Connery has made a number of reasonably good movies, even without the assistance of John Huston and Michael Caine, a dynamite combination. Anyway, the (to me) obscure references is one of the pleasures of this blog. Thank you.

  33. @Twinkie:

    You do realize that minorities are now legally privileged, right?

    If you are talking about affirmative action, sure, that’s a fact. (I’m not particularly supportive of it, but I’m not dead set against it either.) Apart from that, I wouldn’t know. I don’t live in the States. I lived there many years ago, and minorities in my observation didn’t seem either overprivileged or underprivileged. Neither were your “wrong kind of whites”. For the record, I didn’t find any racism either; from people of any race. There were some incidents of country club snobbishness, but it had nothing to do with race.

    As for the rest of it, I just pointed out what I regard as the foibles of both sides. You chose to pick one of those to berate me. I’m not a participant in your culture war. I state things as I see them. If you want to see everything through your political lens and take my comments the wrong way, I guess you are free to do that. But understand that it’ll nip any dialogue we can have in the bud.

    (A few days ago, someone misconstrued a comment of mine to make me out to be a Hindu nationalist. And now this. I guess I must be saying something right!)

  34. @Razib
    “I have been giving my Paypal link to donate money as reparations for white sins.”

    Just FYI, I clicked on that link in the PayPal account was not active.

  35. Most of what I call “liberal racism” seems to be based on the assumption that whites are so superior that no disadvantage is an excuse for lack of success. Those who fail to meet the standards of the “master race” are derided as “white trash.” The term “white trash” implies that it is normal for non-whites to be “trash” but an exceptional disgrace for whites to fall into that category. Complementing this belief in whites as “gods” is the assumption that all in the “non-white” category are oppressed and require special help no matter how many advantages they enjoy. It’s no wonder so many “liberal racists” of whatever background are hostile to any mixed-race identities. One has to be totally guilty or totally innocent – all god or all mortal. Anything else destroys their worldview.

  36. ohwilleke,

    Do you realize much of what you described about those Butternuts can also apply almost equally, if not more so, to African Americans in South Side Chicago or Mexican Americans in South Central L.A.? But I do not think you would ever write remotely similar materials for those types of people.

  37. riordan, i wouldn’t have let comments like that through.

    tbh i didn’t find andrew’s comment tasteful, but he is a long-time commenter, and venomous comments about lower class whites are socially acceptable….

    the reality is that plenty of people have grown up with lower class blacks in schools and been victimized, and that turns them embittered and even racist. their experiences don’t justfiy such hatefulness though according to society.

  38. I want to clarify/elaborate on a comment I made above, in part because I may have inadvertently given offense, but more because I think a couple of distinct but correlated issues are being conflated, both here and more generally. The phrase that concerns me is

    the kind of elementary and jr. high experiences that ohwilleke decribed a couple of day ago [sic] [Sometimes I don’t type so good.]

    My years in jr high & HS coincided almost perfectly with the Nixon administration, and at that time, the small northeastern city where I lived was reasonably prosperous (although it is now clearly rust belt), with a couple of nationally recognized institutions of higher education, a large medical complex and several large unionized factories in heavy industries. The tensions in school in those years were mostly between groups at different places in the socio-economic spectrum. Associated with these different locations were cultural differences, esp. in how masculinity was expressed, and ethnic/racial differences.* Looking back, I think the differences in class (and the associated differences in culture) contributed most to the tensions in school, but the ethnic/racial ones were the ones most visible, certainly to 11-17 y.o. boys, so they were the ones accorded most explanatory power.

    Although dated and, according to one of the authors, flawed, Sennett & Cobb’s Hidden Injuries of Class remains a very useful guide to understanding many of the issues that were going on then … and now.

    *Things improved dramatically going from jr high to HS in part, but only in part, because I think we guys got tired of the stress and preferred to focus on other more interesting things, esp sex, drugs and alcohol.

  39. @MC

    “But this is genocidal language that you’re using, suggesting that their culture needs to be “obliterated”-you are careful to clarify that you don’t favor committing genocide, but what if they don’t view their culture as dysfunctional and dangerous and continue to live it?

    Annihilationist and eliminationist language was long used in reference to Jews in late 19th and early 20th century Central Europe of Austria-Hungary and the German Empire by the likes of Richard Wagner, Karl Lueger, and others, but those who used it frequently took pains to clarify that this did not mean killing the Jews: it meant converting them to Christianity, getting them to abandon their customary dress, dietary laws, traditions, religious practices, and their culture and lifeways generally. This sounds like what you are proposing with words like “obliterate” and “dysfunctional anachronism”. Those Europeans, including the preeminent anthropologists of the day, viewed the Jewish religion and culture as an anachronism and a fossil too: ideally, its people would abandon their traditional, outdated ways and become modern.”

    What I am trying to distinguish is roughly between cultural diffusion (O.K.) and population replacement (not O.K.) in terms of methods. I’d also note that the U.S. cultures to which I am referring are genuinely failing economically in our society, while European Jews were a “model minority” that was economically successful but resented.

    The demise of cultures and major parts of cultures without major population replacement has lots of historical precedents.

    * The pre-Celtic to Celtic conversion.
    * The pagan to Christian conversion in the Roman Empire and Europe.
    * The Hungarian adoption of the Magyar language.
    * The pagan/Christian to Muslim conversion in the early Islamic Empire (although, as Razib has noted, recent scholarship suggests that this may not have happened until after the first dynasty).
    * The Catholic to Protestant transition (where it happened).
    * The de-Nazification of Germany after WWII.
    * The conversion of the American South from the most secular part of the U.S. to the most religious part of the U.S. in the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s (arguably this is one factor that by injecting a religious dimension brought the divide over slavery to a boiling point that culminated in the U.S. Civil War).
    * The deliberate modernization of Japanese society in the late 19th/early 20th century based upon global research.
    * The post-WWII transformation of Japanese society.
    * South Korea became about 50% Christian after being almost entirely non-Christian in less than a century during the 20th century.
    * The secularization trend, first of Europe and delayed a generation or two, in the U.S.

    Cultures do fade away.

    Sometimes this is for obvious reasons (e.g. the celibacy tenant of the Shakers was not a good plan for expanding their influence and continuing the culture, or disease and warfare in the case of Native Americans).

    Sometimes this is for less obvious reasons (e.g. most of the 19th century immigration waves to the U.S. have, over time, largely diluted and assimilated into the larger American society; Germans, Scandinavians and Italians, for example, were each much more ethnically distinct then, than their descendants are today, often resulting in the merger of former ethnically defined church denominations, something that has also taken place among Orthodox Christians in the U.S.; parallel mergers took place in Canada and Australia).

    It isn’t so unreasonable to think that these cultures are fading already and might be nudged further in that direction. Obliterate is a direction of change, not necessarily an absolute standard of success. It need not be complete.

  40. @Riordan

    “ohwilleke,

    Do you realize much of what you described about those Butternuts can also apply almost equally, if not more so, to African Americans in South Side Chicago or Mexican Americans in South Central L.A.? But I do not think you would ever write remotely similar materials for those types of people.”

    First of all, intergenerational assimilationist shifts in Mexican Americans in the U.S. are profound, sometimes for good and sometimes for worse, in a manner very similar to previous waves of migrants to the U.S. (something that can also be said of most of the very diverse forms of contemporaneous Asia immigration to the U.S. – for example, second generation Korean American women often feel, accurately, that they have little in common culturally with first generation Korean American men, even if they are of the same age).

    Second, none of the other groups you identify are majorities in large swaths of the U.S. and use those majorities to actively seek to undermine the minorities (not just racial but cultural) in those swaths of territory. Liberals are, for example, much more concerned about Muslims in Muslim majority countries where Islamic law is imposed, than in the U.S., people of all faiths must function under a secular government and set of laws that limits religious power. Similarly, most liberals looking back at historical New England Puritans find that society, where their majority permitted them to impose their harsh religious doctrines on the people very negatively, but have little animus towards their successors, the Congregationalist churches of New England, who no longer hold that power.

    Third, as I noted, cultural change is most effective from within, and African-American culture in the United States both devotes considerable energy to self-reform and it not insular from the rest of our culture, despite considerable outside barriers to either. Your typical middle aged African-American parent is livid when their children’s generation gets involved in gangs that harm the community, your typical middle aged Appalachian or white Southern parents are, if anything, urging their children to be worse than they are inclined to be. Black preachers, are far less likely to be preaching hate from the pulpit and far more likely to be preaching constructive community self-help and reform. Adherents of Southern and Appalachian are going out of their way to deny reality, rather than to enhance the nation’s knowledge with information about their own truths.

  41. @iffen

    Bubbas are having more kids, but there is a huge generation gap in Bubba-land. The current generation that is coming of age politically, is abandoning the anti-gay, anti-science, anti-environment and Evangelical Christian mores of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation at an astonishing pace.

  42. but there is a huge generation gap in Bubba-land.
    This indicates that your baseless assertion in the previous comment, if valid, would mean their efforts are ineffective:
    Appalachian or white Southern parents are, if anything, urging their children to be worse than they are inclined to be
    I really can’t improve upon Razib’s comment:
    but liberal whites need to apply it outside of just white people if they want to be consistent. i don’t think they really want to be consistent though. there’s one standard for white people, and one for non-whites.
    Appalachian whites and other assorted rednecks are evaluated in terms of exhibiting unacceptable behaviors derived from being a member of a degenerate sub-culture. The individual is guilty because of his negative personal attributes and because of membership in the culture. OTOH, a black person’s behavior can never be viewed in terms of deriving from a degenerate sub-culture, or from any deficiency of the individual. Further, there are entire industries and universities devoted to explaining why the failure to conform to the norms is not the fault of either the person or the sub-culture.

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