Whose Privilege Is it Anyway?

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 April 6, 2017|
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Progressives love to celebrate America’s increasing diversity. Sounds nice, but if you stop to think about that for a moment, what they’re celebrating is the declining white portion of the U.S. population.  The headline of an opinion in Newsweek awhile back is typical: “America’s Getting Less White, and That Will Save It.”

“Good!” says the subtext.  “It’s about time white dominance came to an end.”

Perhaps it’s happening faster than people think.  Last week, the Brookings Institution issued a report showing “a shocking increase in midlife mortality among white non-Hispanic Americans.”

It was a follow-up to a 2015 report by the same researchers, Princeton economists Anne Case and her husband Sir Angus Deaton, a much-discussed study that had reached the same conclusions. The new report provides more comparisons by race and sex, most significantly this: while mortality rates for blacks and Hispanics have fallen, rates for whites have risen significantly, especially among the lower-educated. In just the last 15 years, the mortality rate of whites aged 50-54 with only a high school degree has gone from 30 percent lower to 30 percent higher than the mortality of blacks the same age. (The full report is available here.)

We’ve gotten used to the idea that we’re all living longer, thanks to an economy that provides us with better drugs and medical services. But in a stunning reversal, this is no longer true for one demographic group in one of the world’s richest countries. Caused mostly by drugs, suicide, and alcohol, these are deaths Case and Deaton term “deaths of despair.”  Those pathologies seem to be striking lower-income whites more than they are blacks and Hispanics.

But don’t expect this to be discussed at the White Privilege Conference next month in Kansas City or among any other progressive group interested in the state of American society.  The official journal of the organization that runs the conference, Understanding & Dismantling Privilege, tells us how much the whole initiative relies on the premise of white advantage.  One essay in the current issue titled “On Clinging to Whiteness and Failing Humanity (And Myself)” reveals it well.  The author, a white graduate student in social science, recounts her time with Americorps in a black area of St. Louis and how a particular character trait kept her back: her “deep loyalty to White supremacy.”  She had learned in school “to think of White privilege and White supremacy as powerful processes that operated all around me,” but that fact was never quite real and personal.  In her experience with Americorps, she came to admit, White privilege operated “through” her.

The confession proceeds for several pages, and the shame she feels will not allow for any complication in the assumption of white guilt.  When “Whiteness” attitudes penetrate this deeply into an intelligent mind, signs of white decay are hard to accept.  They’re simply out of bounds.

One might think that progressives would recognize the class dimension to the problem. Marx would have done so. But in 21st century America, race eclipses class.  White privilege runs all the way up and down the income ladder.  To acknowledge the flailing bottom half of the white population is to forget a social justice warrior’s crucial duty to ask white people to “check their privilege.”

So how can a good progressive square his claims of white privilege with the rising “deaths of despair?” One can look away, of course, or one can blame white privilege itself. That’s what one blogger does.  “Let’s put this clearly,” Josh Marshall warns, “the stressor at work here is the perceived and real loss of the social and economic advantages of being white.”  That is, if an unemployed white worker kills himself, is addicted to heroin, or drinks every night, his angst over losing white supremacy helped get him there.

This attribution of race-based anxiety among middle- and lower-class whites helps explain why so many of them supported Donald Trump. The white-privilege thesis puts them in a guilty position, and they’re tired of it. They are made to feel guilty even for damaging themselves! Donald Trump was the first political figure in a long time to remove that guilt, telling them that they had sound economic reasons, not phony racial reasons, to feel bitter and cheated.

One lesson of his victory is clear. If you want to govern, you can’t keep telling a good portion of the electorate that their attitudes are nasty. Progressivism—and much of the Democratic Party—has accepted white privilege as a precious dogma. November 9 proved that the dogma has stalled, just as has the War on Women theme. Whatever else he accomplishes, Trump has shown just how much identity politics have poisoned the public square, and that itself is a civic achievement.

About the Author:

Mark Bauerlein
Mark Bauerlein is Senior Editor at First Things and Professor of English at Emory University, where he has taught since earning his PhD in English at UCLA in 1989. For two years (2003-05) he served as Director of the Office of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. His books include Literary Criticism: An Autopsy (1997), The Pragmatic Mind: Explorations in the Psychology of Belief (1997), and The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (2008). His essays have appeared in PMLA, Partisan Review, Wilson Quarterly, Commentary, and New Criterion, and his commentaries and reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Weekly Standard, The Guardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, and other national periodicals.
  • sestamibi

    Yes, and that explains WI, MI, PA, NC, FL, OH . . .

    It is clear that the Left has abandoned its traditional advocacy of “equality” and color-blindness, and concerns itself ONLY with the acquisition of power. Lower-class whites have come to perceive this and realize that we either have white privilege or non-white privilege, and now vote accordingly.

    And while it may be true that such whites have increasing mortality rates, at least they bothered to reproduce themselves, something that all too many white liberals have failed to do. What the future then holds is a far more racially-conscious white population, and the disappearance of white Democrats/liberals. The Democratic party has all but come out and declared that whites are no longer welcome. Bernie Sanders black aide Symone Sanders, explicitly said there’s no place for white leadership in the party, and thus the recent race for its national chairman was held between black Muslim Keith Ellison and Hispanic Tom Perez.

    American politics is going to get ugly when race becomes ALL that matters, and ideology is discarded.

  • jack dobson

    The Democrats crossed the racial Rubicon this election…and lost. As the bean counters drilled down, they discovered white women probably put Trump over the top. Hence, the left-wing started to attack white women, subtly and overtly. No demographer sees the white population dipping below 50 percent for a generation or more. The Democrats/left-wing has racist-ized their way out of power for the immediate future, and it’s good to bear in mind demographic trends can be reversed on a dime. This strategy may have consigned the Left to permanent minority status.

    • Peta Johnson

      The problem for the Democrats is that there is now a solid body of activists in its base who were previously excluded by the actual and de facto rules against Communists and their fellow travelers. So the people who wanted the Democrats to run on a popular front platform with the Communists, such as FDR’s sometime Veep and all round crazy, Henry Wallace, are now a core part of the party. This was inevitable once LBJ essentially presided over the destruction of the Southern wing of the party. Something he could not have gotten away with, except for his friendship with Richard Russell, Jr. In the end, it bought LBJ nothing. These people – generally – hate the United States. A lot of them hate Christian white people. The “solution” to this was demographic re-alignment. There is a good chance this will not happen with the President’s immigration crackdown. The net effect is to make the Democrat Party broken. If its white hating rump were quiescent, it would not matter, but they are not. They are intolerant of anyone else in the party that does not share their views.

  • CincyGal

    The racial arguments are little more than continued efforts to divide and belittle the American public. Divided, we are easier to control. We’ve allowed the academic attacks on “old dead white men” to undermine the basic values on which this country was founded. Almost alone among the nations (Switzerland being the other exception), the United States was founded on ideas, not blood and soil. Those ideas have been belittled and marginalized, until our young people are not even familiar with them.

    I love American Greatness’ periodic forays into the legacy of Ancient Rome because they recall a time when people thought and wrote and acted with considered gravity. That was not only true in the distant past of Rome’s glory, but it was also true far more recently, when an educated person could be expected to recognize classical references and to respond in kind. This is all part of our heritage. But it is not “white” heritage and it is not “black” heritage. It is the heritage of western civilization. We need to remain cognizant that western civilization stresses the value of the individual, and looks to that individual to be a strong actor in the world. Not a weak, spiritless victim.

    Condemning individuals for “white privilege” is creepily similar to condemning blacks for “black inferiority”. Neither is valid. This kind of shaming is little more than ruthless manipulation, and needs to be identified as such.

  • Brother John the Deplorable

    This is a small part of the madness of our age. All around these fools are evidence that white-governed societies are more peaceful, more prosperous, more stable, more generous — within and beyond their own borders — and lead the world in development of all kinds.

    The real proof? Everyone everywhere is banging on the doors demanding to be let in.

    But of course, they must be — someone somewhere is guilty of something. But these idiots mired in self-loathing are simply tools in the eternal quest for power and wealth run by the Democrat party. You mix up the demographics, import as many as possible with no useful skills from barbaric and backward cultures, entitle them to other people’s money, permit as much casual or political violence as you can get away with, get Sam Francis’ Anarcho-Tyranny™ going full steam, and you end up with a society that needs firm government, cannot get along with itself or any neighbors, and is just begging to have its wealth stripped out in the quest for the illusion of stability.

    • Andy

      Manifest destiny worked out so well for everyone involved.

  • Captain Mann

    Can you imagine what the reaction would be by the left if we celebrated the increase of “whiteness” in America?

  • Captain Mann

    AG, it’s very frustrating attempting to comment when the screen keeps scrolling up/down in relation to your Related Posts scrolling across the page above. Poor web design.

    • Christopher Buskirk

      I’ve passed your comment on to our designer. You’re right – we’ll get it fixed.

      • Captain Mann

        Wow! Thanks! (My son is a web designer, so…)

    • RPDC

      YES! Thank you – I assumed this was just my phone and/or browser.

      • Captain Mann

        For the record, AG replied that they will fix it. I’m impressed.

  • Senhorbotero

    Looks like this site is inching toward reality…a few more steps and I think you are there…choose your side because South Africa is coming to a neighborhood near you in a rather short while.

  • bdavi52

    Now the time of the Great Obtusity.
    Glacial & scouring, slouching, this rough beast moves its slow thighs and leaves in its ragged wake, the spawn of Social Justice. Clueless & committed, filled with passionate intensity, it pronounces: There be White Privilege! There be Inequality! There be Racism, Sexism, Misogyny, CisGenderism, TransPhobia — the list of sins against the New Perfection is endless. Look on these Hard Truths, ye mighty, and despair — your hour come round at last!

    Here, now, the New Red Guard and the Auto-da-fe.

    So of course They cannot see and do not recognize that the hatred they condemn lives within the very words they utter: “YOU didn’t earn, don’t earn, and do not deserve all the privileges we know you have in the lives you’ve falsely stolen.” They do no understand that true diversity is not visible and can never be tallied. They do not grasp that absolute inclusivity requires the death of Quality, Beauty, and Truth. They confuse absolutely equivalent opportunity with equivalent outcome. And in this Godless universe — no heaven, no hell, in which everything is permitted — they fail utterly to recognize that the Harrison Bergeron World they seek is nothing but dystopian nightmare. Worse, they don’t want to know. Worse still, they don’t care. And they trumpet their uncaring, programmatic, faux outrage at ‘injustice’ while standing upon the despairing bodies of a dying culture, their culture, our culture. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is To have a thankless child!”

    “Bunch of deplorables, and if they die quicker than the rest of us that just means the country will be better off in the long run.”
    https:[email protected]/on-mocking-dying-working-class-white-people-d0ea653a91a9

    Tragic, pathetic, and cruel in their bloated ignorance, “something wicked this way comes”.

  • J.j. Cintia

    “White Privilege” is the excuse for White Genocide. Make no mistake, this is hardly accidental. Every creature must have a territory in order to survive. When these liars talk about shrinking habitats for owls and wolves, but not White People, they are PURPOSELY ENGAGING IN WAR AGAINST WHITES. Like the Holomodor, when Whites were called Kulaks, Wreckers, and Cossacks. “White Privilege” is the name the genocidal parasites use against you. Its time to give these parasites what they have coming. THEY ARE THE ENEMY OF ALL LIFE.

  • Sean

    The central issue of our time is that America’s institutions are now either officially or unofficially hostile to whites. You don’t have to believe in supremacy or nationalism or any of that stuff to see it. It’s everywhere now, from entertainment to education to the media to Wall Street. White moral inferiority is the central narrative of our time. It’s an insane time to live in.

    • LiberalMentalDisease

      Perfectly stated.

  • LiberalMentalDisease

    Diversity is one of the many cancers that threaten to kill our country. Some of the others include social engineering, political correctness, and open borders. The only way the USA will survive is by being a white-majority country with conservative principles.

  • Beauceron

    The Left has been pretty open about their desire to destroy the very concept of “whiteness” while fetishizing “blackness” and “browness.”
    The truth is, that for American whites– and increasingly European whites– this has become an existential issue.
    The Left want to destroy us– they state that plainly– and they ARE.
    The question is what, if anything at all, can be done about it?