“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” —Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain
I want to make it clear that I am not making a pro-white argument in the essay. Far from it. I have been clear in my writings about my desire to see race go away. Race is a creation of racism and race thinking keeps the danger of racism alive. When we no longer see each another in racial terms, when we rid our thinking of racial categories, then racism can be relegated to the past. I oppose anti-white racism for the same reason I oppose anti-black racism: racism plays a crucial role in unjust enrichment and it can inspire violence. My argument is the opposite of a racialist argument. I am not arguing for the racial categories I am compelled to use here; these come with a social logic that is part of my society. I am responding to them. My argument would be the paradigm of antiracism if it were not for the corruption of that term by the woke racists who dominate our institutions and shape the prevailing narrative. From their standpoint, when properly understood, antiracism is racism. And so it is.
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If the claim is that some races and ethnicities are disadvantaged as a group because of an oppressive system that systematically advantages some groups over others, that is, group disparities exist because of oppressive social relations, and this is systemic racism, and this claim is taken as fact, then a corollary is that Jewish Americans, who are highly successful as a group, are oppressors. Unless you can show me a law that privileges Jews, this is anti-Semitism. It also follows that the Chinese and Indians in America are oppressors. Here I will demand the same thing of you if you want to avoid being labeled anti-Asian: where is the law that privileges these Asian-American populations? There isn’t one.
Everywhere we turn these days we hear that whites enjoy a racial privilege which explains the alleged advantages enhancing their life chances. Every white person must admit their complicity in the system of white privilege. Peggy McIntosh, of the Wellesley Centers for Women, describes white racial advantage as an “invisible knapsack” of skin color privileges every white person carries on his back throughout his life (see Debunking a Sacred Text in the Church of Identitarianism; You are Broken. We Will Fix You; Not All White People Are Racist; The Psychological Wages of Antiracism). The knapsack needs to be invisible for an obvious reason: where is the law that privileges white people? There isn’t one. But there is a desire that every white person wear privilege around his neck like an albatross.
The systemic racism thesis requires faith in unseen structures that undergird an abstract system disadvantaging blacks across societal institutions (see The New Left’s War on Imaginary Structures of Oppression in Order to Hide the Real Ones; Awakening to the Problem of the Awokening: Unreasonableness and Quasi-religious Standards; Critical Race Theory: A New Racism). This system explains why blacks on average trail whites in almost every category of social life—academic achievement, career success, housing and health care, safety and well-being—with notable exceptions (entertainment, sports). These disparities are not to be explained by cultural differences between whites and blacks as groups. It is not, for example, the fact that three-quarters of black children are born to a household where the father is absent that explains why so many black children fail at school or join gangs. Academic failure and criminal conduct are explained by white power and privilege.
But claiming that all whites as a group are privileged oppressors, that it is their fault that blacks as group find themselves where they are, is the same as saying that Jewish-Americans as a group or that Chinese-Americans as a group are privileged oppressors—that they’re responsible for the suffering of others. In the absence of laws privileging whites, the claim is racist. If one objects with Patricia Bidol-Padva’s widely-assumed formula “racism equals prejudice plus institutional power,” then no argument will have been provided; as an empirical matter, whites as a group do not have such power. That formulation was wrong with respect to race relations when it was rolled out in 1970s. There is no law or institution that privileges white people as a group in this country. This is no less racist of a claim than the claim that Jews run our institutions.
This slogan we have heard for decades that “only whites can be racist” is a rationalization to preserve a complaint that was satisfied in a slew of court decisions and legislative actions in the Civil Rights Era. The corollary that blacks cannot be racist against whites is a Black Power slogan that assumes as given that which requires proving. The assumption is easily disproved: we do not live in an apartheid society. What is Black Power, then, if not “anti-white power,” as Roy Wilkins saw it, or “black supremacy,” as Martin Luther King, Jr. saw it? What is black nationalism or black self-determination if not black separatism? Are Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown the lights to guide us? Or is Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Blaming whites for the disadvantages of blacks and certain ethnic minorities is the same form of the ideology that taught the German worker to believe that Jews were the reason for his suffering because Jews were better off as a group than the German Christian. But Jews in Germany and in America today are better off because they have cultural values conducive to success. They have strong families and teach their children to value education, striving, and law-abidingness. For this, Jews are still loathed for it in some quarters. The same thing is true for Asian-Americans. But you’re not supposed to know this or recognize it unless it can be blamed on whites (see Are Cultural Explanations of Racial Disparities Always Racist? Only By Conflating Race and Culture).
The ideology of systemic racism is designed to obscure the power of culture, but it is also an ideology that disrupts class consciousness. The reason why there is material inequality is primarily economic. It has something to do with ethnicity insofar as not all cultures and subcultures are as good as others in meeting the basic human need for striving and succeeding. There is nothing racist about that fact. However, it has mostly to do with the fact that we live in a capitalist society where those who own capital are privileged by law. The dynamic that chiefly determines the fate of people is the class dynamic. (See What Explains—and Doesn’t Explain—Inequality; Explaining Demographic Disparities Requires a Multifactorial Approach; It’s Not a Racist System.)
This is not to say there is no institutional racism in America. Law and policy permits whites to be treated as second-class citizens in admissions to colleges and in applications for work. This matter of law and policy is hailed as a good thing. You risk being accused of racism if your disagree. Taking race into account in college admissions and in hiring is described as a necessary program of positive discrimination, necessary because the institutional and structural power of whites requires negating via some principle contrary to the principle of colorblind treatment, i.e., equal treatment regardless of racial identity. Positive discrimination is recognized as unlawful, so in the United States it is rationalized as “affirmative action” (in the the United Kingdom it’s rationalized as “positive action”). (See The Freudian Slip that Invites Us to Ask the Question: Is it Time to End Race Privilege?)
In the absence of some mechanism that privileges blacks, the argument goes, the intrinsic nature of American institutions and the momentum of history privileges whites; each white person is justifiably told to get in back of the line because of the greater success of whites on average, a statistical abstraction that includes Jews (who are mostly racially white) and increasingly the Chinese (defined as “white adjacent”). Thus, while systems formally privileging whites have been abolished, explicit systems based on abstract race privilege have been developed that thwart the aspirations of concrete white persons for the sake of repairing historic inequities that the white person played no role in creating. This is in the face of whites constituting the largest proportion of disadvantaged persons in America (see They Do You This Way). The bias against group success is increasingly applied to other groups, as well; anti-white privilege is being extended.
Thus, while systemic anti-black racism has largely been eradicated, anti-white racism is becoming systemic. This is no exaggeration. Children of all races are being indoctrinated in anti-white racism in our schools, employees are routinely subjected to anti-white racism in diversity, equity, and inclusion training, and the establishment media daily folls the airways with anti-white sentiment (Are Teachers Really all in on Critical Race Theory? Banning CRT in Public Instruction; California Moves Ahead with Divisive Antiracism Curriculum; CNN’s Maegan Vazquez Defends Racially Divisive Curriculum; The Origins and Purpose of Racial Diversity Training Programs. It’s Not What you Think). Anti-white racism is being normalized by the widespread and deep institutionalization of fallacious CRT ideas of white privilege and systemic racism and primitive notions of collective guilt and punishment. So, while violence against blacks at the hands of whites is rare in today’s America because anti-black racism is rare (so rare that many hate crimes against blacks are hoaxes—see Hate Crimes, Hoaxes, and Identity Politics, this is not true of the effects of anti-white racism.
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Anti-white prejudice is not just a danger to the culture of striving and success. It represents a physical danger to those considered white, as well to the Chinese and Jews (see The Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes. Trump-inspired? Not Quite; Why are there so Many More White than Black Victims of Interracial Homicide? Policy Presuming “White Privilege” Violates Equal Protection Under the Law). In light of violence against whites, Jews, and Asians, it’s surprising that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) would publish an essay without critical reflection claiming that the observation that anti-racism in its current form is code for anti-white. That a white supremacist may utter truthful statements is the fallacy the ADL, along with the SPLC, like the most (a type of association fallacy in spirit of reductio ad Hitlerum). But in my essay “The Myth of White Culture,” I show that this is indeed the case: Western civilization is pitched as racist, and Western civilization is depicted as the work of white people, therefore white people are racist. It follows from this that to be anti-racist in the modern sense means to be anti-white. This is what Roy Wilkins was talking about.
To see the danger of the formulation, recall once more the time of Nazi Germany and the way in which widespread antisemitism exposed Jewish shops and Jews themselves to acts of crime and violence by ordinary Germans who believed Jews were privileged oppressors. Germans were socialized to envy Jewish success, to loathe Jewish standards of excellence, to believe that the reason the Jews had it so good—thus rendering invisible millions of poor Jews, as if all Jews were privileged—was the reason the life of the ordinary German was so impoverished and miserable.
We know—at least those of us who approach the subject from a historical materialist standpoint know—that the real reason ordinary German life was so impoverished was because of the structure of capitalist society in this period. That structure prevailed because the bourgeoise was desperate to increase the pace of wealth accumulation, to raise the rate of profit. It was the German bourgeoisie who actually enjoyed unearned power and privilege—protected by law. They were the oppressors. They were the exploiters. They were the ones who organized anti-Semitism and used it as an ideological weapon to confuse the German proletariat. In this way, the corporate state and the culture industry it controlled prepared the German citizen to serve as a weapon in its project to smash working class organizations and scatter popular consciousness and entrench the power of the German banker and industrialist by portraying the Jew as unjustly privileged and responsible for the suffering of the poor and working class German.
This is a tactic called “scapegoating.” It’s deployed to mystify the real cause of a people’s misery by identifying an imaginary one. Jews were scapegoated to distract the ordinary German worker from the real struggle: the class struggle. Jewish group success was used to replace the actual oppressor with a contrived one. Racism and fascism took the place of classism in Nazi Germany, redirecting the anger of those exploited and impoverished by the economic system that favored the banker and the industrialist. The worker was told with whom to be angry by the trusted institutions of their society. The worker was indoctrinated by powerful forces to target the wrong antagonist. I don’t have to tell you what was the result of weaponized anti-Semitism. It’s why we say “Never again.”
Among my several academic publications, two concerned lynching. The first appeared in the Journal of Black Studies in 2004, a comparative piece on lynching and the Holocaust. The second, in Crime, Law, and Social Change, published in 2006, theorizes that the progressive humanization of black people by raising them to the status of equal citizens explains the disappearance of lynching. The common argument underpinning both articles is essentially this: anti-black prejudice explained racial violence that took the form of lynching. Racial violence occurred frequently because anti-black racism had been institutionalized in the major social institutions of America and in its culture and language. It had over years been normalized, even expected. It was easily mobilized for political purposes. The civil rights movement, driven by a desire to more fully realize the American creed of equality before the law, demanded from American’s intolerance of racist ideology and speech. Anti-black racism was pushed out of our institutions and largely out of our language. By deinstitutionalizing anti-black racism, by banishing anti-black racism to the margins of American culture, a form of violence lost its motive and reason. Thus racial violence against blacks has been almost entirely eliminated by putting anti-black racism behind us.
As with anti-black racism, anti-white racism fuels racial violence against whites. A black man driving a car through a Christmas parade is explained by widespread anti-white sentiment that makes racial violence against whites appear warranted and justifiable (Waukesha is Scheduled to be Memory Holed). Anti-white racism moved Darrell Brooks Jr. to drive his Ford Escape through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, swerving side to side targeting people, injuring at least 50 people, killing five elderly people and a child. The authorities describe his actions as intentional. In my essay Why are there so Many More White than Black Victims of Interracial Homicide? (see also Establishment Myths About Race and Violence), I show that, year after year, whites are more likely to be homicide victims at the hands of black perpetrators than blacks are to be homicide victims at the hands of white perpetrators. The same pattern holds for robbery. The disparity is even more striking when one reflects on the fact that most perpetrators of homicide are male and black males constitute around sex or seven percent of the population.
Not only do the statistics on violent crime shows this, but the failure of government officials to identify violent action as such, and the systematic neglect by the media to report the story in the same way they report fake accounts of racism (in Kenosha, Washington DC, Chicago, and so on). And when faked anti-black episodes are exposed, the media and politicians go silent. They leave it to Black Lives Matter to declare, “In our commitment to abolition, we can never believe police, especially the Chicago Police Department (CPD) over Jussie Smollett, a Black man who has been courageously present, visible, and vocal in the struggle for Black freedom.” When convenient, the Democratic Party and the establishment media amplify hoaxed cases of anti-black racism, expressions of the very anti-white racism that causes whites to be the target of black nationalist terrorism and disproportionately the victims of interracial crime and violence, from the looting of their stores, burglarizing of their homes, to robbery on the streets. Widespread anti-white racism is a license to target whites for crime and violence.
We are told “Never again” after widespread antisemitism saw Jewish stores and Jews themselves targeted for acts of crime and violence by Germans prepared to commit these acts by being told that Jews were their oppressors, that they must envy Jewish success, that the reason the Jews had it so good (and so the millions of poor Jews were rendered invisible) was because Christian Germans had it so bad. The same wrong is committed when white and Asian owned stores and whites and Asians are targeted for acts of crime and violence justified because of a belief that blacks are disproportionately poor because they are an oppressed people (see Demoralization and the Ferguson Effect). To be sure, people have a free speech right to defame whites and Asians. Our libel laws work at the individual level. But violent action is moved by ideology. If dominant social institutions consistently and for years blame whites for the problems of blacks, the consequences are predictable.
In a three-month period over the summer of 2020, according the US Crisis Monitor, the Black Lives Matter movement was linked to more than nine in ten riots in forty-nine states across the country. The United States experienced 637 riots between May 26 and September 12. Ninety-one percent of those riots were linked to the BLM movement. The riots incurred more property damage in 2020 dollars than any other riots in American history. The nearly two billion dollars in property damage were accompanied by more than two dozens deaths and countless injuries. Black Lives Matter was heavily financed by transnational corporate power and encouraged by the establishment media which, at the same time, downplayed the violence BLM, often while documenting arson and looting in their videos. (See What’s Really Going On with #BlackLivesMatter; Corporations Own the Left. Black Lives Matter Proves it; The Mao Zedong Thought Shift from the Class-Analytical to Race-Ideological; On Riots and the Postmodern Corruption of the Culture of Protest.)
The riots were organized on the basis of a false claim, fed by establishment media misinformation, about lethal civilian-officer encounters in which the public was told that police officers target black civilians with violence, when in fact, if any racial disparity is found, it shows that police are more reluctant to use violence against black suspects. (See The Problematic Premise of Black Lives Matter; The Myth of Systemic Racism in Lethal Police-Civilian Encounters; Establishment Myths About Race and Violence; Disappearing the White Victims of Lethal Police Violence; Establishment Myths About Race and Violence.)
A new form of racism is taking hold, promulgated by such ideologies as critical race theory (CRT), one we are shamed into not speaking about. CRT turns racial animosity around, making whites, in a manner similar to the way Jews were targeted in the Nazi period in Germany and through Europe, the target of envy, loathing, and resentment (Reparations and Blood Guilt; Equity and Social Justice: Rationalizing Unjust Enrichment For the Good of Your Soul: Tribal Stigma and the God of Reparations; A specter is haunting America—the specter of reparations). This targeting is seen in the attribution of privilege to whites as a group. It is seen in the resurrection of such primitive concepts as original sin and collective guilt and retrospective intergenerational responsibility.
Whether history repeats or rhymes, among other things, we record history to learn from it. We are on a very dangerous path in the West, especially in America. We are ignoring one of the most important lessons history has to offer—that organizing around the categories of racial thinking carries with it the risk of ginning up racial antagonisms, and these can go sidewise very quickly and in horrific ways.
The corporate state in the Nazi period prepared the German citizen to serve as a weapon to its end by portraying the Jew as unjustly privileged and responsible for the suffering of the poor and working class German. Today, the corporate state in the progressive period has prepared black and white allies (antifascism, code for fascistic street violence, adds to the chaos of antiracism) to serve as weapons to its end by portraying whites as unjustly privileged and responsible for the suffering of the poor and working class nonwhite. (See The Problem with Antifascism; Antifa, the Proud Boys, and the Relative Scale of Violent Extremism; Antifa and the Boogaloos: Condemning Political Violence Left and Right; Portland and the Rule of Law.)
Many black Americans resist this weaponization. But just as ordinary Germans who opposed the radicalization and oppression of Jews under Nazism were shamed and otherwise socially coerced into supporting the agenda, blacks who resist anti-white prejudice are also being shamed and coerced into the supporting the corporate state agenda. Side with the class interests of the ordinary American worker and risk being called “Uncle Tom” and “Negro.” Even white progressives like to get in on that action.(See Zombie Politics: the Corporatist Ideology of Antiracism; Democrats Pander While Managing America’s Decline.)
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In closing, I need to repeat my long-standing demand that we refuse to conflate white supremacy with Western culture. White supremacy is a type of racism. Western culture is not a product of a race, but of a place in time. It is the source of autonomy, democracy, humanism, individualism, liberty, republicanism, rights, and secularism—in a word, Enlightenment. The conflation of white supremacy with Western civilization is really an attempt to defame the latter as a delegitimizing step in dismantling the modern nation-state, subvert rational jurisprudence, to replace the individual member of the species with racial genres, and to overthrow the Westphalian system to bring about a transnational corporate state.
So here’s a discussion between Glenn Loury and Amy Wax about the perils of anti-white racism as well as pro-white sentiment.