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Friday, May 30, 2014

Vilifying Whites

I've always found racially based, identity politics to be distasteful. It is particularly so when it leads to vilifying another group for the ills of society. We see it with antisemitism--the nutty conspiracy theories that Jews are manipulating the world--and now I increasingly see "whites" cast as the villains. We saw it with George Zimmerman, a Latino, and, now, with Elliot Rodger, who was mixed Asian-British.

Chauncy Devega, who Weasel Zippers notes is a writer for Salon, writes:
Elliot Rodger was/is a white man.

For some people, this fact is very controversial and upsetting.

As I wrote in 'The True Alpha Male': The Santa Barbara Mass Shooting, Elliot Rodger, and Aggrieved White Male Entitlement Syndrome, when the bad behavior of white people is publicly called to account, said person’s relationship to “Whiteness” is rarely discussed.

To be forced to include white mass murderers, madmen, and Right-wing domestic terrorists as part of the tribe is very uncomfortable and disconcerting.

This is understandable: what reasonable person would not want to excommunicate them from their community and affinity group?

Only white folks have such a luxury in the United States: a black rapist, thief, or murderer is de facto a representative of “the black race” with its “bad culture” and “pathologies”. There is no parallel for whites. The white murderer, thief, rapist, or mass shooter is an outlier, “mentally ill”, or some type of deviant whose behavior reveals nothing about white people en masse.

The boundaries of Whiteness and white privilege are heavily policed: bad people are “them”; good people are “us”.
Devega is being dishonest and hypocritical. Notice how he throws in the term "Right-wing domestic terrorists" even though Rodger was neither right-wing or a terrorist. In fact, mass shootings seem to be overwhelmingly a problem with the left-wing. More significantly, though, Devega does exactly what he is critical of--labeling "bad people" as a member of a particular race. In this case, "white." Just as the left could not acknowledge Zimmerman's Latino roots, Devega either is unwilling to recognize Rodger's Asian roots or, more likely, no longer distinguishes between Asians and those of European decent.

Eugene Volokh writes about the latter phenomena in his article "How the Asians became white" at the Washington Post.
This is part of a phenomenon I have long observed, under the label of “how the Asians became white.” It’s not just that Asians are being treated like whites for purposes of race preferences, with some institutions deliberately setting lower standards (or creating a “plus factor,” which is the same thing) for black and Hispanic applicants than for Asian and white applicants — instead, people sometimes actually call Asians white (mostly unconsciously, I suspect).
 (Emphasis in original). He goes on:
“White” has stopped meaning Caucasian, imprecise as this term has always been, and has started to mean “those racial groups that have made it.” “Minority” has started to mean “those racial groups that have not yet made it.” (A recent San Francisco Chronicle story even excludes non-Mexican-American Latinos from the “minority” category.) ...
... calling Asians white is often a tool for misleading the public. Falsely calling a school “lily-white” gets a strong reaction from readers. Accurately saying “There are relatively few blacks and Hispanics at the school, but there are many Asians, perhaps more than there are whites” leads to a much more complex (as well as more well-informed) response. Falsely talking about plummeting “minority” admissions makes more political hay than accurately describing decreases among some racial groups and increases among others.
Although Volokh indicates that the mistake may be unintentional, it does not seem to be. This seems part and parcel of the whole "white privilege" meme which, of course, would be undermined if it were to be instead labelled, "white, Indian, Asian, Jewish, Cuban-American, ... etc. ... privilege."

(H/t Weasel Zippers and Instapundit)

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