The Unbearable Whiteness of White People

In the NYT, one Nell Irvin Painter (a professor emeritus of history at Princeton University and the author of “The History of White People”… sigh) has a rather poorly written, meandering piece called “What Whiteness Means in the Trump Era”, which sounded like it might be a piece discussing white racial consciousness as the logical entailment of the identity politics that, for the past 30 years, elites have promulgated and applauded among non-whites.

Alas, it begins with off-the-shelf “Trumpism is racism” rhetoric:

Donald J. Trump campaigned on the slogan “Make America Great Again,” a phrase whose “great” was widely heard as “white.” Certainly the election has been analyzed as a victory for white Christian Americans, especially men. Against Mr. Trump were all the rest of us: professionals with advanced degrees and the multiracial, multiethnic millions.

With her phrase “the rest of us”, I guess we safely assume the Princeton emeritus professor specializing in whiteness is…. not white.

Painter displays barely concealed animus and hostility (?) towards whites when she writes:

I’m saying that what it means to see yourself as white has fundamentally changed, from unmarked default to racially marked, a change now widely visible: from of course being president and of course being beauty queen and of course being the cute young people selling things in ads to having to make space for other, nonwhite people to fill those roles.

Since the ‘90s, the multicultural model has been in overdrive, where whites aren’t cool, only blacks, browns, and yellows are.

In our racially oriented American society, this change marks a demotion for white people. From assumed domination, they now take their place among the multiracial American millions. For Trump supporters embracing the social dimension of “Make America Great Again,” their vote enacted a visceral “No!” to multicultural America. As if to say, “Take us back to the time of unmarked whiteness and racially unmarked power” assumed to be white…

Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign’s leadership and support complicate making America great again, on account of the campaign’s tilt toward white nationalism. Here lies a snare that has entrapped white identity for decades. White nationalism scares many ordinary white people away from embracing whiteness, which white nationalism makes appear bigoted and terroristic. Given the people who emphasize their white racial identity — white nationalists, Nazis, Klansmen and so on — the white race is a spoiled identity. Embracing whiteness would seem to enmesh one in a history of slave-owning and all the discrimination flowing from it. What righteous person would want to embrace that? Up to now, there’s hardly been a pressing need to do so, for a fundamental dimension of white American identity has been individuality.

Conveniently, for most white Americans, being white has meant not having a racial identity. It means being and living and experiencing the world as an individual and not having to think about your race. It has meant being free of race. Some people are proud white nationalists, but probably not many of the millions who voted for Donald Trump. Thinking in terms of community would seem to be the job of black people. The Trump campaign has disrupted that easy freedom.

By elevating Steve Bannon of Breitbart News into its leadership and not vigorously forswearing white nationalist support, the Trump campaign enmeshed “Make America Great Again” with white nationalism. As whiteness emerges as an American racial identity, this constitutes a problem. Who defines American whiteness right now?

Across the MSM, references to “Breitbart News” are popping up like mushrooms.

This is a good thing.

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