The Meaning of Anti-Whiteness
Why liberals pretend to be racist.
At the beginning of December, I was twenty-seven. That’s the age Mary Morstan was when she met Dr. John Watson in The Sign of Four. Watson calls it “a sweet age, when youth has lost its self-consciousness and become a little sobered by experience.” I doubt anyone would’ve call me sweet, but it’s nice to think that I was still a youth.
By the end of December, I was twenty-eight. That’s the same age as the man in H. G. Well’s ghost story The Red Room:
“Eight-and-twenty years,” said I, “I have lived, and never a ghost have I seen as yet.”
The old woman sat staring hard into the fire, her pale eyes wide open. “Ay,” she broke in; “and eight-and-twenty years you have lived and never seen the likes of this house, I reckon. There’s a many things to see, when one’s still but eight-and-twenty.” She swayed her head slowly from side to side. “A many things to see and sorrow for.”
It’s nice to think that life may still have a few surprises in store.
One thing that strikes me now is how much our thinking on race has changed in the short time since I became aware of it. The first friend I ever made was black. We did karate together and then wound up in the same kindergarten class. He lived with his grandparents around the corner from the bowling alley. We watched Power Rangers and played Yu-Gi-Oh cards. He taught me to eat onions like hand fruit. I wonder if we’d still be friends.
Back then, folks said that race was a social construct. A racist was a man who discriminated against another man based on that construct. Now we’re told that whiteness, or “the normalization of white racial identity,” is the cause of most of society’s problems. Race is not a fiction. It’s deadly real.
Damon Young, editor of The Root, announces that “Whiteness is a public health crisis.” What’s more, according to Robin DiAngelo, “Racism is the foundation of Western society”—i.e., places where white people live. As bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi points out, the maleffects of whiteness include Caucasian people (“colonizers”) adopting black children.
Some may call that reverse racism. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is here to set the record straight. You see, it’s not possible to be racist against white people. As the Museum explains, “Being white does not mean you haven’t experienced hardships or oppression. Being white does mean you have not faced hardships or oppression based on the color of your skin.” So, that’s that.
I know I’m picking and choosing my headlines here. But nobody will deny that, among the American cognoscenti, “whiteness” is something to be frowned upon, even discouraged.
So, why the shift? I have plenty of theories. I’m sure you do, too. (Who doesn’t?) But there’s one I think we’ve mostly overlooked. Conservatives have only ever had one good argument against race-based affirmative action, reparations, and other programs that promote racial equity. They’ve point out that black Africans also participated in the slave trade.
In fact, long before English settlers arrived in Virginia, blacks were enslaving whites, blacks were enslaving blacks, and whites were enslaving each other. (In Athens, there was roughly one slave for every citizen. In Sparta, the ratio was more like ten to one.) In other words, it’s perfectly feasible that, had African empires conquered the world instead of European, black may have, and probably would have, enslaved millions upon millions of whites.
This inspires all kinds of tricky questions. “Are all whites Americans culpable in slavery, or just the descendants of slaveowners? If the former, why? If the latter, are they indebted to all black people, or just the descendants of slaves? If the former, why? If the latter, are they indebted to the descendants of all slaves, or just the descendants of their ancestors’ slaves? If the former, why? If the latter, how do we calculate their debt? How do we put a price on a man’s life, his freedom?” And so on.
Taken together, the idea of collective white guilt seems pretty ludicrous. So, for the Left’s racial narrative to work, they had to decouple racism from slavery somewhat. They had to argue that slavery was only a manifestation of another evil: one far older, more intrinsic, and that survives intact to this day.
Arguments from history wouldn’t cut it. We needed to identify racism with some trait possessed universally by all white people by their nature. And that, of course, is whiteness itself. Somehow, we had to argue that racism is intrinsic to whiteness.
That’s the essence of what the Left calls Critical Race Theory, and what the Right calls “wokeness.” It’s not a serious attempt to understand history or modern racial dynamics: it’s a clumsy effort to reinforce partisan narratives about collective white guilt.
Believe it or not, that’s good news. Put it this way: Some may argue that racism is a learned behavior. Others would say that we have an innate preference for people who look like us, and an innate suspicion of those who are different. Most likely, it’s a mix of the two.
But virtually no one seriously believes that (A) only white people are intrinsically racist, and (B) only white people are capable of being racist. That’s not racism. It’s not even “reverse racism.” It’s just stupid.
Of course, stupid things can still be dangerous. Look at TikTok. But it’s lucky we’re not dealing with a cabal of evil geniuses—just a bunch of self-serving grifters.
Deep down, nobody takes them seriously. It’s a classic example of Naked Emperor Syndrome. As the late Sir Roger Scruton pointed out, this spirit of “faking it” exists everywhere the Left becomes dominant. Take the arts, for instance, where grotesque modernism reigns (and nowhere else). To quote Scruton,
The artist pretends to take himself seriously, the critics pretend to judge his product and the modernist establishment pretends to promote it. At the end of all this pretense, someone who cannot perceive the difference between the real thing and the fake decides that he should buy it. Only at this point does the chain of pretense come to an end, and the real value of this kind of art reveals itself—namely its money value.
Even at this point, however, the pretense is important. The purchaser must still believe that what he buys is real art, and therefore intrinsically valuable, a bargain at any price. Otherwise the price would reflect the obvious fact that anybody—even the purchaser—could have faked such a product.
It’s the same with the race-baiting scammers like Robin DiAngelo. When asked how she could charge $30,000 to scold other white people for being racist, she insisted that her fees were “well within the standard range for a best-selling author who is in high demand.”
So, the rest of us whites owe everything we have to racism—the “foundation of Western society,” apparently. But not Dr. DiAngelo. Oh, no. She’s earned what she has.
Anyone who claims to believe that is lying. They’re lying to you; they may well eb lying to themselves. But it’s a lie. They’re faking it. And they’re not doing a very good job.
So, what do progressives believe? My guess is, they believe the same thing we believe. They’d say that every man is capable of knowing the good, but that he’s also drawn to evil, and must choose between the two. For too long, far too many whites chose the evil of slavery over the good of dignity and freedom and brotherly love. Because they chose evil, evil is visited on their sons and the sons of their victims.
In other words, they believe in original sin.
That’s hardly surprising. G. K. Chesterton said it’s “the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” Russell Kirk made it one of his ten conservative principles. He called it the principle of imperfectability. “Human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults,” he wrote. “Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created.”
Christians (and conservatives) stress this idea of moral agency. We have free will, and it falls on each of us to choose good over evil. When it comes to the evils of racism, I think Judge W. D. Shipman put it very well when he prosecuted Captain Nathaniel Gordon for slave-trading:
Do not flatter yourself that because they belonged to a different race from yourself, your guilt is therefore lessened—rather fear that it is increased. In the just and generous heart, the humble and the weak inspire compassion, and call for pity and forbearance. As you are soon to pass into the presence of that God of the black man as well as the white man, who is no respecter of persons, do not indulge for a moment the thought that he hears with indifference the cry of the humblest of his children.
Judge Shipman chose to serve good and punish evil. By his choice, he brought our country one step closer to real justice, real equality. That’s how real progress is made.
Of course, today, Judge Shipman would be accused of “white saviorism.” And here we have the key to the Left’s obsession with collective white guilt.
If you ask a Critical Race Theorist, he’ll deny that white people are able to help in the struggle against racism. Of course they can’t—not if their very whiteness is the cause of racism. For white people, being “antiracist” isn’t helping. It’s getting out of the way so that black folks can come into the equity they naturally possess, but which our whiteness naturally tends to suppress.
In that sense, Critical Race Theory is only the latest attempt to enshrine man’s natural goodness by denying free will. In that, they following in the footsteps John Calvin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Karl Marx. Some higher power (be it God, nature, history, or “the system”) places us in a certain category. Saint or sinner, savage or civilized, proletariat or bourgeois, black or white… it all amounts to the same thing: We don’t choose to be good or evil. The choice is made for us, by something outside of ourselves. And so the only way to fight evil is for good to be imposed by something outside ourselves.
As it happens, that “something” is almost always the State. Robespierre put it best: “Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible. It is then an emanation of virtue.” Human beings can’t be reasoned with. They have to be led—if not by the carrot, then by the stick.
But “wicked wills are not from Him,” as St. Augustine said. Christians have always believed that, because man’s will is free, he must freely choose good or evil. Anyone who attempts to take that freedom away from him will only make things worse, because—again—men will not be good unless they choose to be good.
The only way things will get better is if white people choose to do good for black people. For their part, black people have to make choices that are better for themselves, their families, and their communities. Critical Race Theorists would deny us that choice. They deny the very existence of that choice. And so they’re bound to make things infinitely worse.
For instance, if you say that all white people are racist, by virtue of their whiteness, then they will be. That’s how people are. Drill a certain role into their heads and, nine times out of ten, they’ll play along. Cast them as the villains and you’ll have yourself a whole mess of villains.
That’s what Rod Dreher means when he talks about living by lies. It’s more than Scruton’s idea of “faking it.” It’s when the fake becomes second nature, when we start to believe our own pretense.
That’s the future we’re heading towards now. That’s what anti-whiteness means for the United States. It’s not “white genocide.” It’s not violent anti-white reprisals, South Africa-style. It’s a deepening of interracial resentment. It’s increased misery for all Americans, especially black Americans. And it’s yet another century wasted trying to avoid responsibility for our own moral choices.
Surely that is, if nothing else, proof of original sin.
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