White Guilt Won't Work

Not surprisingly, the folks on Reddit didn't understand this comic.

We've been though this before - they even have a name for it, slacktivism.  People post memes on their Facebook page, or sign meaningless "online petitions" because, they care and they're doing something to stop racism, feed the homeless, or end war, or whatever.

Problem is, they aren't doing anything, and oftentimes, what they are doing isn't helping.

I noted before that some folks, in response to the recent killing of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, are going online and feeling they need to lecture the rest of us on how it is to be black. Problem is, these are comfortable, middle-class white people living in the suburbs, who have no real idea what it is to be Black, Hispanic, or even poor. They have theories about this, though!  After all, they went to college!

Again, it is nice that people want to be supportive, and people all over the world are protesting the killing of George Floyd.   Problem is, some of these people showing up at protests are rioting, and people have been murdered - including police officers - as a result of this.   It stopped being about Black Lives Matter days ago, when the looting started.

Just as some white folks feel "white guilt" for what is going on, other white folks feel they are entitled to set fire to black neighborhoods to support Black Lives Matter - when in reality, they are just looking for a thrill.

What is "White Guilt" and why won't it work to change things?   Well, I had a revelation while driving through rural South Carolina.   We went by a tidy single-wide trailer home (with a tidy lawn with no junked cars or children's toys on it) and they had a neat "TRUMP 2020" sign in the front.  Living in a trailer home, it doesn't seem like the Trump economy has done much for them, although it appeared to be recently re-sided, so there's that.

But I got to thinking about the folks who might live in that trailer.  Why were they for Trump?   Were they racists?  Did they feel "White Guilt"?  I concluded that they probably didn't consider themselves to be racist, nor did they feel any "White Guilt" given that their own standard of living was pretty modest.   What goes on the big cities is probably a mystery to them, and they likely are as confused as many are by these "pressing issues of the day" such as transgender restrooms.

You'd have a hard time convincing them of "White Guilt" as they worked hard all their lives, and tried to eke out a meager living.  They kept their trailer clean and went to church on Sunday. They are not evil people, and trying to paint them as such for not marching in someone else's parade isn't going to work.   While the world is an unfair place and many minorities in the United States start off with an unfair disadvantage, the same is true all over the world.  Whether it is racism, class, religion, or just economic level you are born into, the game is stacked against you in many instances.   Not always, and not necessarily meaning you have no options.   But unfairness is the fabric of life.

And by the way, speaking of unfair disadvantages, many young white kids grow up in poverty with few options in life.   That's life in general.  What is unfair is that per capita, more black kids face this than whites.  But in terms of overall numbers, well, there are more poor, disadvantaged whites in this country, simply because whites still make up 73% of the population.  Yea, you read that right - all this talk of "extinction" of the white race is a little premature.  It also illustrates that if you want change to occur, you have to convince at least a substantial portion of that 73% of your cause.  But I digress.

People claim life is unfair, even when they got a decent shake out of it.   For example, people living in the United States, black or white, rich or poor, working or on welfare, or even in jail are far wealthier than a majority of people living in the rest of the world.   But for some folks, nothing is ever enough.  Consider this dweeb, who owns a rental property (evil landlord!) and has a job, a spouse, and a nice place to live, and yet is unhappy because his "friends" all have more, and had unfair advantages in life, he thinks.  He denigrates the beautiful meal on his plate, because his neighbor appears to be having more.   I suspect, however, that his neighbor is heavily in debt, and his "wealth" is an illusion.  And if your friends run you down as "poor" then find new friends.  Or let them think that, so they pick up the tab when you go out to eat.  Feigning poverty is excellent urban camouflage.

Of course, his "friends" may feel nervous as his lifestyle is calling into question theirs.  The guy who just leased a new SUV and is dead broke is going to make fun of you for driving a used, paid-for Camry for 150,000 miles.   Your lifestyle calls his spendthrift behavior into question.   You'll never be popular on the cul-de-sac at Foreclosure Mews Estates unless you drink the Kool-Aid like everyone else.

But his narrative is one that is popular today, particularly among the privileged white class - college kids.   They bitch and moan how awful they had it because they had to go to college and study for tests and write term papers and now they have to pay back loans.  So hey, why not riot and set fire to a McDonald's?  Never mind that "Black Lives Matter" isn't your fight, you have to show you care and are better than those other people.

Ah yes, damning and shaming - two of the ten irrational ideas in life.   In a way, this is simply a form of status-seeking.  The "Antifart" young activist has no money, as he has defaulted on his student loans to "make a statement to the man!" and thus activism becomes a new form of social status, much as a fancy car or SUV is to the suburban dweller.   The more "woke" they are, the higher the status, because they care and anyone who isn't as outraged as they are (all the time, of course) is a heartless bastard who runs over children in the street for fun.   This is the "silence is assent" mantra crowd - you not only have to agree with them (in every matter) but if you are not marching with them, you are part of the problem!

I've never owned slaves.  I've never discriminated against blacks, latinos, gays, straights, women, or whites.   I'm not responsible for the plight of inner city youth any more than I am responsible for the plight of Appalachian youth or the poor anywhere, for that matter.  Did I create poverty in India as well?   Does my modest wealth represent something "taken away" from others?  That's the real deal, right there - the idea that wealth and labor is finite, and the only thing left to do is divide up the pie into smaller and smaller slices, all directed by an all-powerful government.

Maybe that is the answer, but I am not convinced. In Batista's Cuba, dark-colored Cubans were discriminated against.   Today, supposedly there are equal opportunities in that country for everyone, regardless of race - but those opportunities are meager and limited, because of the very nature of the Communist system (and no, please put away your tired arguments about how an embargo by one country is causing Cuba grief).

But more to the point, are those the only two choices? Does equal opportunity mean only Communism, and does Capitalism mean only discrimination?   I think not, for a number of reasons.  For starters, our county is hardly 100% Capitalist.  We have a progressive tax system, even if it has been weakened by Bush and Trump.  Don't like that?  Vote.   Surprising how many "Antifarts" want change but won't even register to vote.  I am no big fan of Ms. AOC, but her election (and what looks to be re-election, as well as election of fellow progressives) is an example of how voting can create change.  Not right away, but over time.    If her ideas have merit, more of her ilk will be elected or re-elected and as they gain seniority, will be in larger positions of power.  That's how the system is designed to work.   If their ideas are a lot of hooey, they will lose re-election and other ideas will take hold.   Just because your pet theories are not popular with the majority of the country doesn't mean the system is broken.   On the contrary.

But getting back to white guilt, the US has been trying for decades to improve the plight of minorities.   It has been a struggle lasting since before the civil war.  And over time, things have gotten better and we have to recognize that. Companies are now actually trying to hire more minorities and the problem they are facing isn't institutional racism, but a lack of qualified minorities to fill these positions.   There are not many young blacks setting out to be computer geeks, Wall-street wizards, or whatever.   Education is still not valued in the ghetto - and if you are smart, you are still accused of "acting white" and will get the shit beaten out of you.  That needs to change.

Cultural values promoted to blacks suggest that thuggery and criminality are part of what it means to be black.  In any sketch comedy program, for example, the black character is always shown menacing other characters - at least in jest - while the white characters react in fear.   Yea, I'm talking about SNL, the folks who brought you episode after episode of Black Jeopardy, where black contestants are shown to be ignorant fools, schooled only in ghetto culture.   Who is writing this stuff?  Black writers?  Who is performing it?   Black actors.   Aren't they a little bit ashamed of promoting these racist stereotypes of blacks?  Oh, it's OK, so long as black people are doing it to themselves.

In the 1930's, they had a radio program called Amos 'n Andy, which was based on negative black stereotypes.  The two voice actors who performed the parts were white.   Racist?  You bet.   But when television came along, they hired two black actors to play the parts.   Was that still racist?   Hard call, for that era.   Back then, for many minorities, seeing "one of their own" on the screen was more than they were used to, even if the depiction was a stereotype.

I digress, but not by much.  I guess the point is, maybe this BLM thing will amount to something if blacks themselves, in addition to demanding change, change themselves and their own attitudes.  Because blaming all of your woes in life on "whitey" is a classic example of externalizing.   There are financially successful blacks in this country - I've met more than a few.  In fact, as a typical white person, that is mostly the blacks I do meet.  Many are from black middle-class families, so they have that boost in life - better educational opportunities, but more importantly, better cultural values.  I've also met a few folks - both black and white - who managed to pull themselves up from poverty, mostly by moving away from the trailer park in West Virginia, or the "Projects" in Philadelphia.

That is a problem right there.  A young black man from a prosperous family doesn't grow up in the inner city and have the same values and acquire ghetto slang.  He is as uncomfortable around inner-city blacks as I am among rural whites.  They can tell by my manner, dress, and accent, that I am not a local.  Discrimination is not just about skin color, it is also about social standing, cultural values, and a host of other subtle cues.  The idea that it will be eliminated forever in any form, is something of a fantasy.  We can improve the system, but mostly we need to improve ourselves.

Even in eras where discrimination was much worse, people still succeeded.  In an era where there are more opportunities than ever, effort is still required.  There is a mythology among many in the Left that some privileged folks have it easy in life.  They go to college and get a degree and are immediately rewarded with a corner office and a six-figure salary.   The Moneyist article cited above is an example of this - someone who has done well in life, but is unhappy because they are convinced others had it easier, or at least that appears to be the case.

The irony is, that many of these young "Antifarts" who believe this sort of nonsense have firsthand experience that it is not true.  Their union High School teachers promised them high-paying jobs if only they would go to college and get a degree in French Literature.   They know firsthand that there is  no guaranteed "in" by going to the right school or joining the right fraternity, whether you are white or black.  And yet they go rioting, decrying the unfairness of life, in that others somehow succeeded in this scheme, where they failed.   Maybe not taking advice from unionized government employees is a great start - unless you want to become one yourself.

White guilt is a non-starter, only because the majority of whites don't feel guilty and Americas are overwhelmingly white.  In order to effect change, you have to convince a huge portion of those white folks of your cause. Trying to shame them for something they didn't do simply isn't going to work.  Most white people in this country never discriminated or otherwise disadvantaged a black person, and few have ancestors who owned slaves.   Many white folks in the US have ancestors who came to America in the 1900's, and struggled to fit in, facing discrimination of their own.    How are they responsible for the plight of blacks?

Not only will "White Guilt" not work, it will backfire in a big way. The Democratic party has one huge image problem, and that is the image of the scolding schoolmarm telling everyone what rotten people they are, and how they need to fork over all their money so it can be given to others.   It is not a cheerful image, and as I noted before, the reason why Trump is popular with his "base" is that he tells them they are beautiful people and have nothing to be ashamed of.    Which  strategy will work in the long run?    People eventually get tired of being told they are pieces of shit, even if they are masochists at heart.

As a result, there could a backlash - a very powerful one.   People will get tired of the rioting, arson, and looting, and demand - and back - a strong response to this.  Law-and-order will win the day in the long run, unless this "movement" can coalesce around a leader or leaders who present reasonable and feasible demands.   Open-ended protests that go on forever with no real goal or point, on the other hand, will accomplish nothing, particularly if the protesters allow rioting and lawlessness to occur.