Liberal White Suffering No Longer Necessary
This White Man now has no problem speaking out thanks to Condi Rice. Her comments were on unforeseen by me on this issue but unexpectedly liberating. I don’t have to suffer “White Guilt” anymore and I do feel it’s time I give it up. Let me tell you why.
First off, when I look at the idea of White Guilt after her speaking on it and CRT on the view, I feel like I know where and when the concept came from. It’s a trope generated by the right white think tanks to be used as a brand mechanism that feeds into their outrage machine. It has a modern history used to force us over ‘older’ history, that of ‘guilt’ from slavery.
Later someone may trace the origins of this phrase for me back to pre-Trump 20th century thought. But it hardly matters to the Right right now. They love to mimic or steal leftist ideas and turn them Orwellian-style against “us” white leftists. Like the gun, it’s a great political weapon they have and they’ll keeping fire it in “their great offense is a great defense” strategy. Whites — women and men over 40 — are their real targets.
White Guilt emphasizes to whites that they don’t have to be sorry and can be proud of their “heritage,” that enough time has gone by to get over complaining about slavery, and that blacks can make it in America without excuses. How do I know that is what they mean? Oh please, I’ve been listening to the news and I’ve been white all my life. I know what they mean by “heritage,” “welfare,” “excuses.”
Having “White Guilt” only emphasizes the already unapologetic attitude white supremacists and systemic supremacists have. It says: There is no reason to reform the party. Thank you, Condi. My shame went away when I stopped hearing it from a white man like Hannity or white woman like Laura Ingram.
At the same time, the phrase makes whites in the center feel like they don’t have to stick to a liberal, and black, party just out of “guilt.” You don’t have to vote for minorities and trans-es, you can feel “free” now to vote with the GOP. Don’t be guilty about “switching sides.” Your physical born gender and physical born skin color are not something to be ashamed of! Come over here and we’ll accept you as you are (i.e., natural and white, like republicans).
A lot of people, and white women, in the suburb might feel a little “bad” about having voted for Trump and Trump candidates given the “tinge” of racism on display during his presidency. And certainly, after the Insurrection. They are signaling about White Guilt through Condi that they are beyond that now. Using Tucker or Cruz or Marjorie Green as messengers just wasn’t working. Time to pull out the serious big GOP rational guns. She’s articulate, a university president, and taken seriously even if reviled by leftists for her role in the Iraq Way.
These right-wing phrase-crafters are implying as importantly the (false) supposition that blacks are using White Guilt as an unconscious political weapon to keep whites in the Democratic Party. The mouthpieces of those right-wing phrasologists impress the idea on whites through implied conclusions that those white centrists are voting to the left because they feel guilt of association from the previous Trump elections. Those strategists are giving whites ‘an out.’
Trump lost, they know that, but the center still voted enough for “down ballot” candidates like Ted Cruz and Ms. Boebert to gain seats from Democrats or to keep from losing seats. We forget that it was not a blue wave. Outside Trump, the white GOP did quite well.
This is where the Republican demographers are aiming, at keeping, and expanding that centrist middle. Those whites that voted Biden at the top of the ballot voted “red” down below as they too embarrassed by Donald’s racism and misogyny that was crudely, overtly on display. Before Trump, those fundamental dual emotional class differentiators of power — skin color and gender — were kept below the surface and mentioned and controlled by what we now call ‘dog-whistles.’ Polite and respectful Reagan Republicans would only use these discreet ‘mentions’ to imply differences.
Trump’s “Great Northern Strategy” was not consciously invented by Trump. It is continued by him but not crafted and controlled by him.
But it is aimed squarely at Rust Belt whites whose unions have fallen apart when factories moved abroad to “China” over the last 40 years. (I put China in quotes to underline their blame China strategy to stoke the rage of who “stole” their jobs). When the jobs left, the unions collapsed, and there were no more union bosses forcing them to vote “Blue”. Working class “blue” collar whites in the rust belt were “abandoned” of strong unifying leadership to bring them together. They have a vestige of loyalty in decaying union clubs, but no continuity of active leaders. No one comes around anymore, making them feel like they don’t belong to a political force. The whites are flailing and need a strong man to tie them together.
History is thrown away, that’s the other invention Rice mentioned, that of CRT she brushed aside. Not the real CRT of professor lawyers in the 1970s, but the political Fox weapon du hour of 2021, another race filled trope. As if the divided America now is unlike the divided America in the past. The mainstream moderate corporate media has only pounded home the idea of what a divided country we have now. What a divided country we have become. Is that true though?
When exactly was the great time of the Great American Unity anyway?
From the start there were “two sides,” or more. The 1776 Declaration was unity against autocracy rule of King George, true. But State and Federal power were “balanced” as a recognition of severe disagreement between various regional “tribes.” The “biggest” two sides after 1776 formed between North and South. That long schism led to the Civil War. A schism where the voters on “both sides” were from the start only white men.
There were no blacks or women or Asian-Americans or Hispanics voting as a “block” in the seventy plus years leading up the America’s deadliest war, the one against itself.
There were only principles that divided whites. It was white on white division. White men didn’t vote against slavery out of any white guilt. They voted, in part, out of moral certitude, that slavery was wrong, immoral. Northern abolitionists who voted before the 13th amendment were of two minds but only of one gender and one race. “We” mostly white Northern “liberals” back then didn’t fight Southern whites out of shame for being white, but out certainty for the “other side” being wrong. Slavery was immoral and President Adams and his son were the only two presidents exemplifying this stand among pre-Civil War presidents. They were the only two of the first 14 that did not own slaves. They were in the minority, but the moral minority.
That’s what brings me back to Condi Rice. I hadn’t realized how this idea had been pounded into my head, the various right-wing messaging, making me feel slightly “ashamed” at being on the left, or progressive, as a white man. It’s not just me: even many blacks refer to whites wholistically, as though they are one group on the right. Even the term “white ally” misses the historical point of white liberals, creating a new group we on the left must “join.”
The right-wing focus in 2018 midterms and 2019 on AOC and the “Gang of Four” pointed inevitably at their collective race: non-white women. But I could only come to terms with my male white liberal attitude when I heard a black Republican woman talk about Whiteness, “White Guilt,” and the dreaded CRT.
I saw Dr. Rice as a person of dignity and respect, poised and highly educated, not ranting, intelligently speaking, but who I starkly disagreed with, who was firmly on the Right and in the GOP. I highly disagreed with the Iraq War she backed. I saw and lived through her principled non-racist stances for the Right under Bush. Unlike Ben Carson or Omarosa, she wasn’t a Trump show horse (and Melania if you want me to refer to a white show horse) and undoubtably hates Trump while remaining Republican. She’s too smart though to ignore the dangerous direction he is taking her party in.
So, I’m now free to be white and progressive without guilt. My stance on the systemic racism I see in viral video after viral video of police using excessive force, and the killing and disproportionate imprisonment of blacks makes me see what side I’m on. I’m not “white guilty” or ashamed of standing up against the obvious systemic racism that stormed the Capitol and killed George Floyd and Ahmed Aubrey and handcuffed peaceful black leaders.
It only took a principled black woman to release me from speaking out. Now I can be proud of my “heritage” of white men, the ones who chose the progressive side leading up to the Civil War. When the time and push came to shove and the Southerns and Texans decide to go pro-slavery and break off from America, the liberal whites voted and fought against the South because they knew the violence, ownership and repression against blacks was wrong and racially biased. I stand with them.