Kevin MacDonald: Kalefa Sanneh’s New Yorker review of several books on “Whiteness” (“Beyond the Pale: Is white the new black?”) opens with a quote from an academic labor historian that shows how far we have to go to develop a proud sense of being White and having interests as Whites:
In 1994, the white labor historian David R. Roediger published an incendiary volume, “Towards the Abolition of Whiteness.” Paying special attention to unions and strikes, he traced the unsteady growth of American whiteness, a category that eventually included many previous identities that had once been considered marginal: Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish. “It is not merely that whiteness is oppressive and false; it is that whiteness is nothing but oppressive and false,” he wrote. “Whiteness describes, from Little Big Horn to Simi Valley, not a culture but precisely the absence of culture. It is the empty and therefore terrifying attempt to build an identity based on what one isn’t and on whom one can hold back.”
That’s the kind of stuff that passes for academic wisdom these days — a combination of biological ignorance combined with self-hating moral outrage against Whites. The fact is that there is an undeniable biological reality to races as descent groups and as a vast storehouse of genetic interests. But that is not the whole story. There is also a strong cultural component: “To a large extent cultural influences result from conflicts of perceived interest and political infighting, and multiculturalists … [and anti-White fanatics like Roedinger] are experts at this game. Indeed, the #1 way that culture influences our concept of race is the denial by the political left that there is any biological basis for race at all.”
Sanneh’s carries on this tradition that the White race is nothing but a social construction, agreeing that “whiteness was built over centuries on a foundation of deceit and confusion and disguised political imperatives.” Historically, it is doubtless the case that Whites have utilized the concept of Whiteness to their advantage in certain times and places — just as other groups have always done. But the main disguised political imperative in the contemporary world involving race is that the people who insist on the unreality of the White race typically have strong racial and ethnic identities of their own, and they use this ideology to advance their anti-White agenda.
But Sanneh’s view is more subtle. He proposes that this social construction of Whiteness is becoming a reality:
It’s getting easier to imagine an American whiteness that is less exceptional, less dominant, less imperial, and more conspicuous, an ethnicity more like the others. … The history of human culture is the history of forgeries that become genuine, categories that people make and cannot simply unmake. So we should probably stop thinking of whiteness as an error, and start thinking of it, instead, as a work in progress. Historians have sometimes framed the treacherous history of whiteness as the slow death of an idea. Perhaps it’s time we start viewing it, instead, as the slow birth of a people.
In commenting on Sennah, Pat Buchanan stops short of seeing the emerging White consciousness in racial terms: “The coming conflict is not so much racial as it is cultural, political and tribal.”
But, unlike Sannah, Buchanan correctly sees that the birth of a White tribe will result in conflict. It’s not going to be pretty, especially given the deep historical grudges, economic envy, and desire for social dominance that characterize the emerging non-White minority coalition and apparent in some of the books Sannah reviews. Sanneh’s idea of the emerging White ethnicity as “less exceptional, less dominant, less imperial” implicitly envisions White people happily heading into the political sunset and accepting their lowered status in a utopian world of ethnic and racial harmony. As noted repeatedly on this website, this is wishful thinking with a vengeance. Whenever Whites have ceded power, they have been physically endangered.
But as we head into a new era of difficult times for White people as they are increasingly pushed aside while heading for minority status, we can take solace in Buchanan’s point that “Adversity and abuse increase the awareness of separate identity and accelerate the secession of peoples from each other.” Quite right.
The anger of the Tea Partiers is just the beginning.