I opened Twitter recently and saw 20+ notifications. Most of the time that means the new generation of white nationalist Twitter trolls are filling my feed with racist and anti-Semitic cartoons. It was the trolls, but this was different. They were celebrating my use of the word “anti-white” in a tweet. They saw it as a victory that a “mainstream conservative” was using this term that for so long has been their calling card.
They had a point. Until recently I would have been unlikely to use the term. Not because I didn’t believe some people harbored animosity towards whites, but because that was a fringe attitude removed from power, which represented little real threat. That is no longer the case. Progressive rhetoric on race has turned an ugly corner and the existence of “anti-white” attitudes can no longer be ignored.
In the past year, all of the following headlines have appeared, in well-read publications:
What is new is the direct indictment of white people as a race. This happened through a strange rhetorical transformation over the past few years. At first, “white men are our greatest threat” postings tended to be ironic, a way of putting the racist shoe on the other foot. They were meant to show that blaming an entire race for the harmful actions of a few individuals is senseless.
Then the tenor changed. What started as irony turned into an actual belief that white people, specifically white men, are more dangerous and immoral than any other people. Loosely backed up by historical inequities and disparities in mass shootings, this position has begun to take a serious foothold.
Don’t Ask White People to Be More Tribal
Strikingly, this shift in rhetoric undermines what was once the core of anti-racist efforts. Treating people equally has given way to making all of us ambassadors for our race. This is a classic theme in critical race theory, that people of color carry a burden of representation that white people do not. But foisting the baggage of representation onto white people doesn’t solve that problem. It makes it worse.
Treating people equally has given way to making all of us ambassadors for our race.
White people are being asked—or pushed—to take stock of their whiteness and identify with it more. This is a remarkably bad idea. The last thing our society needs is for white people to feel more tribal. The result of this tribalism will not be a catharsis of white identity, improving equality for non-whites. It will be resentment towards being the only tribe not given the special treatment bestowed by victimhood.
A big part of the reason white Americans have been willing to go along with policies that are prejudicial on their face, such as affirmative action, is that they do not view themselves as a tribe. Given the inequality of resources favoring whites in our society, it…