On “White Fragility”

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    • #331256
      ZimInSeattle
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      A few thoughts on America’s smash-hit #1 guide to egghead racialism

      By Matt Taibbi

      A core principle of the academic movement that shot through elite schools in America since the early nineties was the view that individual rights, humanism, and the democratic process are all just stalking-horses for white supremacy. The concept, as articulated in books like former corporate consultant Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility (Amazon’s #1 seller!) reduces everything, even the smallest and most innocent human interactions, to racial power contests.

      It’s been mind-boggling to watch White Fragility celebrated in recent weeks. When it surged past a Hunger Games book on bestseller lists, USA Today cheered, “American readers are more interested in combatting racism than in literary escapism.” When DiAngelo appeared on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon gushed, “I know… everyone wants to talk to you right now!” White Fragility has been pitched as an uncontroversial road-map for fighting racism, at a time when after the murder of George Floyd Americans are suddenly (and appropriately) interested in doing just that. Except this isn’t a straightforward book about examining one’s own prejudices. Have the people hyping this impressively crazy book actually read it?

      DiAngelo isn’t the first person to make a buck pushing tricked-up pseudo-intellectual horseshit as corporate wisdom, but she might be the first to do it selling Hitlerian race theory. White Fragility has a simple message: there is no such thing as a universal human experience, and we are defined not by our individual personalities or moral choices, but only by our racial category.

      If your category is “white,” bad news: you have no identity apart from your participation in white supremacy (“Anti-blackness is foundational to our very identities… Whiteness has always been predicated on blackness”), which naturally means “a positive white identity is an impossible goal.”

      More: https://taibbi.substack.com/p/on-white-fragility

      The white race is a myth.

      "Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" - Aristotle "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine" - George Bernard Shaw "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable" - JFK #SurviveAndRevolt

    • #331280
      Fasttense
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      Robin DiAngelo addresses MLK’s I have a dream speech.

      “That this speech was held up as the framework for American race relations for more than half a century precisely because people of all races understood King to be referring to a difficult and beautiful long-term goal worth pursuing is discounted, of course. White Fragility is based upon the idea that human beings are incapable of judging each other by the content of their character, and if people of different races think they are getting along or even loving one another, they probably need immediate antiracism training.”

      Sounds like a damn awful book.

    • #331303
      Cold Mountain Trail
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      • Total Posts: 8,519

      +++++

      “This dingbat racialist cult, which has no art, music, literature, and certainly no comedy, is the vision of “progress” institutional America has chosen to endorse in the Trump era… monetizing division…”

      Taibbi says its easier for corporate america to “bench aunt jemima” than to give up its business model built on “war, slave labor, and regulatory arbitrage” and that folks promoting takes like White Fragility are, like corporate america, and despite their performatory ‘wokeness’ (my take) hostile to traditional constitutional rights like privacy & freedom of speech.

      Taibbi says people are being taught to snitch out people for ‘thoughtcrime,‘ and finds it suspicious that at such a catastrophic era, the ptb and their courtiers (writers/press, consultants, university administrators etc) advise the public to further center and reify race as identity.

      Meanwhile, actually anti-racist books like Huck Finn & to kill a Mockingbird are banned for containing the N-word.

      “It’s almost like someone thinks there’s a benefit to keeping people divided.”  That’s for damn sure.

    • #331309
      game meat
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      He nails it pretty well here. That shit is poison. This book is basically the sjw/ cancel culture bible. The most fascinating thing about it is not how stupid it is, but how the concepts espoused in it have become an unquestioned and integral part of any discourse around race. Plenty of people who have never even heard of it will defend these ideas to the death.

      Taibbi calls it”Hitlerian” which is a good descriptor because biological essentialism is at the core of this philosophy. Seriously, just read a passage from it and substitute any mention of whiteness with Jewish and it’ll be practically indistinguishable from a Hitler quote. It’s also as patronizing as can be in the way it characterizes black America, and views the two as incapable of any real solidarity. There’s a certain misanthropy to the whole thing.

      He gets it exactly here:

      The movement that calls itself “antiracism” – I think it deserves that name a lot less than “pro-lifers” deserve theirs and am amazed journalists parrot it without question – is complete in its pessimism about race relations. It sees the human being as locked into one of three categories: members of oppressed groups, allies, and white oppressors.

      Where we reside on the spectrum of righteousness is, they say, almost entirely determined by birth, a view probably shared by a lot of 4chan readers. With a full commitment to the program of psychological ablutions outlined in the book, one may strive for a “less white identity,” but again, DiAngelo explicitly rejects the Kingian goal of just trying to love one another as impossible, for two people born with different skin colors.

      Corporate America loves stuff like this because it’s entirely race reductionist in the way it conceptualizes social problems, letting them off the hook by attributing their crimes to a collective “whiteness.”

      “White fragility” specifically, is little more than a self-referential conversation stopper. Diangelo herself would never actually address any of Taibbi’s criticisms. Instead, she would claim his opposition is clear evidence of his white fragility.

    • #331319
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
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      Anything to avoid talking about class, for that threatens them. This isn’t so different from Hitler’s logic about racial fundamentalism or from eugenics. They’ve gone full circle and have become that which they say they despise. If anyone criticizes them, they can blame it on race or, if that fails, question the critic’s sanity, which is a Stalinist tactic.

      Good for Taibbi. No modern historical analysis can be accurate without addressing economic class.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      If Democrats don’t stand for the people, why should people stand for them?--Jim Hightower

    • #331325
      HalfCentury Man
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      The cosmetic variations in appearence are caused by temporary geographical isolation. Those isolations are no longer an issue due to global civilazation.

      Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

      John F. Kennedy: 13 March 1962.

    • #331329
      Haikugal
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 1,595

      I’m happy to see Tabbi speaking out on this abomination of twisting progressive values into something authoritarian and horrible. We must fight back against all of this coming from the right and ‘woke’ (whatever the fuck that is) culture wars. Those of us who are allies will be vilified you can be sure. We will be attacked and excluded. This is about the misuse of power in the worst sense and it is very disappointing, to say the least.

      We experienced this at SV so this isn’t coming as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

      Thanks for this post!!

       

    • #331346
      MistaP
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      in Gramscian terms it’s “hegemony”: the people who fight each other the hardest always agree on quite a lot: so it’s no surprise that liberals can sound like racists, fundamentalists or Birchers so easily–it’s the water in which we all swim, so to speak

      it’s the same as described by Julien Benda–he noted that fascism wasn’t some bolt from the blue, but indicted the whole generation of jingoists, revanchists, nationalists, centralizers, bigots, and invasion-fantasy writers that had predominated since the Prussians besieged Paris

    • #331423
      peacecorps
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      Thinking that neo-Nazis are humanists and pro-democracy is ridiculous.

      They are called 'human' rights not "if politicians do not feel threatened" rights. Many politicians see national sovereignty/security as more important because they protect their power and wealth. Human rights often do just the opposite.

      National issues (slavery/racism, income inequality, pandemics and pathetic health care, weak unions) are not solved with more states' rights. Global problems (climate change, migration, trade, war, pandemics) are not resolved with more national sovereignty.

    • #331446
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 13,852

      @haikugal

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      If Democrats don’t stand for the people, why should people stand for them?--Jim Hightower

    • #331478
      So Far From Heaven
      Keymaster
      • Total Posts: 5,662

      The book I mean.

      Seriously. I hate fancy dancy words like a passion. Drove me nuts in grad school. They made up all kinds of shit words.

      KISS Keep it simple stupid. When I read something and have to then re-read it and/or stop thinking just to get a handle on the bullshit terminology, I turn off and it’s trash time.

    • #331494
      Cold Mountain Trail
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      “Whiteness has always been predicated on blackness”

      If so, then the converse is also true: Blackness has always been predicated on whiteness.

      E.g. when you hear people saying “Black people enslaved other black people before white people did” to excuse slavery

      …in Africa, when there were no ‘black people’ as identity, rather, various tribal identities.

      similar in europe.

    • #331512
      PolecatHollerer
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      .

      If you give a man enough rope, it will be six inches too short. This is not the nature of rope- it is the nature of man.

    • #331557
      David the Gnome
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      @ohiobarbarian

      A lot of my first serious conversations about more sensitive topics were had on forums – particularly on SV when it involves politics, race – and gender.  Some of the things I remember others saying, “The oppressed cannot become oppressors!”, “If you are white, you don’t get it, you can’t get it – and you are inherently racist”, “Black people can’t be racist!”  I won’t dig into the “feminist” comments so much, because that is a whole other barrel of monkeys, but suffice to say that every single thing associated with being male was considered to be twisted, wrong, wicked.  That we are all oppressors merely because we are white is a stupid notion.  Is there a privilege associated with being white?  Yes – but it does certainly not apply all across the board, or by any means equally.  If, for example, you are very poor, or homeless, society regards you with as much disdain (if not more) than, say, a member of the bloods gang (I think they call them the bloods still?)

      Unfortunately, very few understand that context here is extremely significant.  Slaver “owners”, historically speaking, were white.  The majority of them, at least.  If you go back far enough in history though, your skin color, nationality or what have you was largely irrelevant in certain eras.  The Romans did not give a shit, for example, what color you were.  They would happily enslave you so long as their laws permitted (and even some times when they didn’t) which is, at least in part, how they so quickly conquered much of the known world in their time.  They used slaves – and second or third class citizens referred to as auxiliary forces to accomplish a great deal of their now famous and infamous work.

      Fast forward far enough – and you have a very different world.  The Roman Empire is gone, the Persian empire gone, the Greeks, the Egyptians, none of these are a shadow of what they were.  The rules have changed, Nations are more firmly entrenched in whatever situation they happen to be in – say – medieval Europe.  So people in certain geographical regions, most particularly, were seen as the only permissible targets whenever there was not a war being fought among European Nations – which was, I’ll grant, pretty rare.  This gave rise to the crusades, to the occupation of various “colonies” throughout the world.  India, Africa, Australia, in time, the “Americas” as they were known then.  Historically, even much of Scandinavia lost their ancient traditions when confronted by the “Holy Roman Empire”.

      All of that grants some context for what came next, when America was less known and charted, when fools like Columbus “discovered” their new world, it was already populated, historians argue about by how many, but there is little doubt that there were millions among the various Native tribes.  Small pox, brought over by white European Invaders wiped many of them out – though initially, Columbus and his like did enslave many, even bringing many of them back to Europe (in this case Spain) to be slaves.  In fact, Columbus became so brutal that Queen Isabella of Spain had him brought back home in chains.  I’m a bit fuzzy on what became of him after that – to be honest, I never much cared.

      So… here is the setting – “settlers”, or to be more accurate “invaders” from across the sea, had already wiped out most of the native peoples by bringing over diseases which these peoples had never seen.  Small pox is considered (I believe?) primary among them.  Across North and South America, it is entirely likely that millions, the overwhelming majority of the native populace, were wiped out.  There were still lands to take, wars to be fought for them, but the majority of those who could have stood against invasions were simply gone.  That granted an extreme upper hand to the invaders.  Yet… even as one tribe tribe after another was obliterated, or one land after another colonized, there was a problem.  Simply put: not enough people to work the land – and the invaders from across the sea certainly didn’t come all that way to do all the work themselves!

      So… what to do?  There was wealth to be had in these new lands, they seemed to go on forever, plenty for the taking – plenty for all – so long as you were of the proper class.  Of course, many black people had been enslaved before, but not to so great an extent that people forgot that throughout history we were all (unless born into power – and some times even then) vulnerable to being captured and used in such a way.  Yet, they looked… well… different, from most of the European invaders.  The various cultures, Tribes and so on and so forth of Africa were little known and poorly understood by the masses, they were seen as savage, much like the Natives of North and South America.   So one ship after another brought new slaves to work for the new masters of the land.  Some were “purchased” from their Countries of origin, others were simply brought over from Europe where they had already been slaves.

      The oppression of history was much forgotten.  It was a new era, in which if you were white, god damn you were lucky (for the most part – in comparison to black people) – if you were white and rich, there weren’t many limitations on what you could do.  Massive plantations sprang up, whole cities and states founded on the work and modern “lordship” of such.  Never mind those who had worked the land before, often much more in harmony with nature… there was a new empire… and there were new classes of citizens.  Indentured servitude among whites was still fairly common – but even that was not so bad as slavery.  No rights.  None.  It may have been frowned upon by some, but in general, the white masters could treat their slaves however they pleased – and they did.

      They knew it was wrong – the evils of slavery were long known and recognized even then, despite some various claims that “Oh, our barbarian ancestors didn’t know any better”.  Oh yes they did.  When Rome invaded and most destroyed Carthage (there is a point to this jump back) hundreds of years of infrastructure, culture and much else were simply lost.  When the Europeans came to America, thousands of years of such were lost, much like many of the empires of old, the natives were all but completely wiped out.  Yes, there were wars and various battles fought – but most of the natives had long since been wiped out by small pox.

      Really, until populations began to grow and expand, until diversity in the Americas became more common, civil rights were a laughing matter.  In time… more and various peoples came to be here, more and various peoples came who had never thought to enslave their neighbors.  In time a document was written in which it was claimed that all men were created equal… many such things gave rise to the war to end slavery, finally culminating (to some extent) in the abolition movement, of which Abraham Lincoln was part.  To be honest, he really had no intention of immediately outlawing slavery – he would have worked to, overtime, eliminate it, but it was his election and the fear of various, extremely wealthy plantation owners… that immediately led to the beginnings of the civil war.  One day soon, I think we will call it the first civil war.

      Understand – most of those who fought on the battle fields even then were poor.  They were farmers, shopkeepers, the sons of more or less common people, given no choice (but a little – very little – pay) but to go fight and die for “their Country”.  It was much the same for the Irish when they came in massive numbers – here’s a gun, go fight for your Country if you want to live here.

      Overall, it goes back to the wealthy, to those born into, or granted privilege through no particular effort or worthiness of their own.  The vast majority of all peoples have always been poor, oppressed, not entitled to so many of the privileges that the few take for granted.  The last one hundred years or so has made some headway in changing that for many – but certainly not for all.  To be truly, miserably poor… in this day and age, is still to be homeless, or at the bottom of the income/working ladder, at the very least.  You work – and you work your ass off, because that seven and a quarter doesn’t go very far – and if you don’t, you end up (more often than not – the social safety net being pathetic) with little food, less money, no rights… and still… you are owned.  Perhaps not the same way as in the past – but by debt now.  By necessity.  Very, very few can survive simply by living off the land these days – those skills are mostly forgotten in our modern world.

      Don’t get me wrong… Native Americans, African Americans, women, LGBTQ… all of these people have had it worse in the history of oppression.  To a lesser extent than say, sixty years ago, they still do.  Some forward momentum has been accomplished, but it has been accomplished, every single time, against a firmly entrenched minority of the wealthy and powerful who will do all they can to preserve what they have.  Ground is given very, very grudgingly – and never without threat to their station.

      That is why we are moving backwards.  Those in power today have no real fear of us.  As a former poster here liked to put it… “they could hire one half of the Country to kill the other half!”  Yep, they could.  In the months and years to come, they might even do just that.

    • #331576
      Ohio Barbarian
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      @davidthegnome If you went back to, say, the Bronze Age, and told people that slavery was bad, they’d think you were nuts. It’s just the way it was. The fact of the matter is that slavery wasn’t based on race until European planters needed cheap labor in the Americas, and slave revolts started happening in the Southern American colonies in the 17th Century.

      There were white slaves at the time, in addition to indentured servants. All of them started joining together with their African brothers and sisters and periodically rising up. The English planters decided to create a yeoman system here, in which one class of slightly better off folks identified with and protected to aristocracy, so they freed all the white slaves and manumitted most of the white indentured servants to create that class of people. They invented this weird idea of a white race, which before then had not even existed.

      Racism didn’t create slavery. Even capitalism didn’t invent slavery. Commercial proto-capitalism did invent white racism in order to protect the upper classes, and boy-howdy did they later find all sorts of uses for it.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      If Democrats don’t stand for the people, why should people stand for them?--Jim Hightower

    • #331594
      David the Gnome
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      @ohiobarbarian

      At least not that there were white slaves during that time period.  For some reason, the history classes and books I was privileged to never pointed that out – maybe I just didn’t advance to advanced enough classes.  I knew, of course, that historically slavery was a lot more widespread.  I did not know that the planters basically created a whole new class/race system out of former indentured servants and white slaves.  Not sure why I never knew.

      You are right, too, in that it was around during the bronze age, in one form or another.  Those with the power and strength to enforce their will on others did so.  It is not truly so different today, though it is more subtle – and done more through money and the means of debt than strength of arms – though that is still there when need be (for those in power).  We are seeing the truth of it play out across the Country, with all of the mass protests and all of the incidents of violence from police, even members of the National Guard.  An old man shoved to the ground hard enough to leave him broken and bleeding – by the very people that were supposed to protect him.  There might yet be some police that believe in serving and protecting – but they are vastly outnumbered by the other kind.  The kind that thinks that having a badge and gun gives them the authority to do as they please.  The kind that sees the poor and minorities as the enemy.

      It has gone to extremes – and I do not know what the ultimate result will be.  There are enough militia groups throughout the U.S. – enough of those “boogaloo” people, perhaps, to make real trouble.  What they lack at present is a real unifying factor, beyond Trump and the whole “No mask!/No nap!” thing.  There isn’t that much on the left, in terms of even loosely organized paramilitary.  Perhaps this is worth thinking about – is something like what the planters did back then being attempted again today?  Pass some shitty legislation that claims to protect and empower citizens, while keeping on with what they were doing in the first place?

      We see the same thing with immigrants, refugees and so on… shit, as much as things change, they still largely stay the same.  My ancestors came from Ireland Scotland – and many of them were given the option to fight for their Country – or “you can git out!”  Never mind what they were fighting for, whether they believed in it, or that they had come looking for honest work, opportunity, peace from the troubles of their own land.  Now it is often the peoples of South America.  If anything… they are treated even worse.  They are not given guns and told to go fight for their Country, they are told to leave, or locked up and abused, starved, die for want of water, even.  Even their children are taken from them and locked up in private institutions.

      The more I think about it, the more the overlords of the world have actually grown in power, that they can do such things with so little pushback, so little effective resistance.  A senator grandstanding here and there… but if the government was going door to door, seizing our teenage children to fight in some war or for some other purpose… especially if they were white… I wonder if things would be a little different.  Would the radical right wing militia groups fight the government then?  Or would they assist it?

      In any event, as the mask slips and the gloves start to come off… I think many are beginning to see our society for the lie that it mostly is.

    • #332030
      ZimInSeattle
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      @davidthegnome

      “In any event, as the mask slips and the gloves start to come off… I think many are beginning to see our society for the lie that it mostly is.” Yup. There seems to be somewhat of an awakening. Let’s hope that real change for the better is in the offing.

      "Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" - Aristotle "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine" - George Bernard Shaw "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable" - JFK #SurviveAndRevolt

    • #332043
      bazukhov
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      He constantly plays to that bases fears and/or desires.  They all want to be “real” men and get rich and consider themselves to be victims of women and non whites who screw up their plans to become millionaires.

      The welfare of the people has always been the alibi of tyrants.   Albert Camus

       

       

      Tell me, great captain, how do the angels sleep when the devil leaves his porch light on? Tom Waites

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