White Man’s “Burden”

Photo credit: Brian Stansberry

I spent some time this week trying to figure out what white supremacists actually want. I still don’t know. Their “problems” seem to be the illusory specters of paranoid schizophrenics, and their “solutions” are naïve and untenable at best, genocidal at worst. As best I can tell, the “war on whites” is analogous to the “war on Christmas”: members of a historical majority can’t abide the notion that members of the minority are acknowledged as existing and treated as equals.

The prejudice against whites must be really fucking subtle. Maybe that’s how insidious it is, that you can go an entire lifetime without knowing how oppressed you are. Okay, I guess if your idea of prejudice is “Non-white people live here, and we pay them for work now,” then sure, you’re going to see that everywhere. However, you may want to get some perspective from someone who’s idea of prejudice is “I don’t know if I can talk to that cop without getting shot.”

The alt-right crows about “white heritage” and “white culture,” but speaking in my official capacity as a white man, I don’t know what “white culture” is! At most, I thought it was brunch and Friends reruns, but apparently there’s more to it than that? The challenge for the alt-right is trying to define white culture in ways that are not simply opposition to other cultures. If you describe yourself as “pro-white” and you hold up Robert E. Lee as your prototypical example, it sure as hell looks like you’re fighting for a white culture defined by enslaving black culture.

Alt-right demagogue/punch target Richard Spencer presents the movement’s ideas in a more palatable fashion, at the cost of being maudlin and childishly idealistic. He describes America as “a country of frontiersman… a country of the cowboy” as if policy decisions should be driven by mythos. He’s oddly concerned about James Bond as some sort of Caucasian ideal, to the point where he can’t bear the notion of Bond being portrayed by a black man. However, he doesn’t support the violent expulsion of non-whites, oh no! He merely wants to convince them that maybe we should see other people:

He hopes America’s nonwhites can be made to agree that returning to the lands of their ancestors would be best for everyone: “It’s like presenting to an African that this hasn’t worked out,” he says. “We haven’t made each other happier. We are going to have to take part in this paradigmatic shift together.”

I want to take Spencer at his word here, but I can’t believe he sincerely believes this is a plausible solution. Does he expect a fourth-generation African-American to relocate to a whole other continent just so white Americans can breathe easier? If Spencer loves European culture so much, why doesn’t he move to Europe? Oh wait, they won’t have him.

This is the danger of a world where education is not valued and facts take a back seat to feelings. Spencer’s ideas are explicitly not based on data, and while there may be token fringe scientists that he can trot out for credibility, his movement is based more on appeals to emotion than to logic.

Spencer believes that Hispanics and African Americans have lower average IQs than whites and are more genetically predisposed to commit crimes, ideas that are not accepted by the vast majority of scientists. When pressed about what really sets whites apart, he waxes decidedly unscientific: “I think there is something within the European soul that we haven’t been able to measure yet and maybe we never will,” he says, “and that is a Faustian drive or spirit—a drive to explore, a drive to dominate, a drive to live one’s life dangerously…a drive to explore outer space and the universe. I think there is something within us that we possess and that only we possess.”

In other words, “I don’t have data or empirical evidence to support my claims, but what I do have is a strong gut feeling that I’m right!” As if the Polynesians never sailed the Pacific, as if the Mongol Empire never spanned the whole of Asia, as if no other culture has ever taken a damn risk!

Spencer also misapplies the term “Faustian”, which more appropriately applies to a deal with the devil. This is a sign that Spencer desperately wants to sound smart but can’t back it up, and it also points to Spencer’s emphasis on appearance over substance. It’s the same as his obsession with suits and James Bond. Maybe this is why he values what’s on the outside of a person, why he’d rather have a country of Justin Biebers than Neil DeGrasse Tysons.

Oddly, the alt-right’s alignment with President Trump is the very definition of Faustian. That orange-haired devil has brought the movement to the forefront of the American consciousness, and their fame has already cost them jobs, education, web hosting, payment accounts, meeting venues — and the same sort of statues the Charlottesville protest was ostensibly meant to protect. Keep up the good work, team!