The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

The end of "White America"… so what?

with 2 comments

I’ve had numerous opportunities to read Hua Hsu’s excellent piece for the Atlantic titled “The End of White America”. It was linked on the blogs of such illustrious bloggers as Nisha Chittal and Andrew Sullivan, so of course I had to read it. It was indeed a thought-provoking piece and made me think about it’s implications not only for the USA but also for the whole world. Some choice quotes:

“I think white people feel like they’re under siege right now—like it’s not okay to be white right now, especially if you’re a white male,” laughs Bill Imada, of the IW Group.

A good point from Imada and one reason for this, I think, is that in the past 8 years, the damage that has been done by the Bush Administration worldwide and all of its related failures and disasters have somehow been associated with White America. All of a sudden, Americans are stupid… but they’re not only stupid… they are also redneck hillbilly cowboys, they are white trash and they don’t know anything about the rest of the world. As you can see the “white” tinge to this (fairly unfair) prejudice against Americans is obvious and their lack of knowledge about the rest of the world has an implication of a sort of revelling in whiteness… understandably it seems, nobody wants to be associated $with that sort of image.

 

 

“Like, I’m aware of all the horrible crimes that my demographic has done in the world,” Lander says. “And there’s a bunch of white people who are desperate—desperate—to say, ‘You know what? My skin’s white, but I’m not one of the white people who’s destroying the world.’”

Indeed. Hua Hsu also explores some of the more common contradictions involved in racial/ethnic identity association in the States:

And, as the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson asked, “Why is it that in the United States, a white woman can have black children but a black woman cannot have white children?”

In addition he explores what sort of impact this trend has had on White Americans and how this seismic shift is manifesting itself. Apart from chronicling the rise of hip hop and the ‘wigger’ phenomenon, he also looks at the other side of the spectrum.

The result is a racial pride that dares not speak its name, and that defines itself through cultural cues instead—a suspicion of intellectual elites and city dwellers, a preference for folksiness and plainness of speech (whether real or feigned), and the association of a working-class white minority with “the real America.”

 

The politics of this quote is fairly obvious, as soon as the word “folksiness” is mentioned, Sarah Palin comes to mind… and interestingly enough it was Palin who’s gaffe about “real America” vs. it’s presumably less palatable opposite was ridiculed on political blogs and SNL during her disastrous campaign for VP.

It has been mentioned countless times on political blogs and everywhere else in the wake of Obama’s victory but it deserves to be repeated ad infinitum until the GOP finally gets it into their thick skulls. America and the World is changing and has already changed, since the advent of Bush II. Not only is the USA changing demographically but the unfortunate associations of whiteness, specifically white trash hillbilly folksy whiteness, no longer resonate positively with people and they are no longer afraid to show it. There is nothing wrong with being ‘folksy’ but it will not be taken seriously in the political establishments.

 

Most Americans are clearly not stupid (as can be evidenced by the election result in November… finally… vindication) and hopefully the next 4-8 years will see the USA taken seriously on the world stage again, as the quality of its people and its history of leadership & progress richly deserves. How charming that this advent will happen at the hands of the first black president who will lead the new USA into the new age.

Written by alexlobov

January 19, 2009 at 12:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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2 Responses

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  1. I disagree with your assumption that Americans are not stupid. Every time I see a forwarded e-mail making false claims or falsely attributing speeches to famous people I know the sender is stupid. Perhaps nice and well-meaning but stupid. Americans choose Presidents based on meaningless slogans, a candidates appearance, and unsubstantiated attack ads. I believe electing great Presidents is a statistical fluke, as evidenced by the number we have had.

    I find your contention that Obama’s victory is a defeat for “white males” rather offensive. Obama’s victory was a defeat of racism and should be framed that way. I think your contention perpetuates racial conflict. Obama himself is multiracial and not black. The concept of calling multiracial individuals black or african-american is steeped in racism. We need to move forward as a nation into the vision MLK Jr. painted of a nation where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

    Hopefully, Obama will be a great leader. I for one intend to judge him without consideration for his genetics. We must do this if we are ever going to resign racism to the history books.

    anamericanidiot

    January 19, 2009 at 1:09 am

  2. americanidiot,

    I think you misunderstood my point.
    Firstly, by what you say, Americans are as stupid as any other nation in the world. Because of the way democracy, electoral politics and media have developed, people the world over vote their leaders in on the same basis as the one you mentioned. In that sense, sure Americans are stupid but then people in general are. What I meant was that relative to the rest of the world, I don’t think Americans are as stupid as they are made out to be.

    Secondly, Obama’s victory being a defeat for “white males” was not at all my contention. I contended that it was a defeat for the politics of necessary “whiteness”, “folksiness” and baseless cultural propagandising like what does or does not constitute a “true American”. I meant that Sarah Palin “folksy” grandstanding, Joe the Plumber and attempts to label certain parts of the country as un-American, all things that, in my opinion, were trying to pander mostly to white voters did not result in anything close to a victory. In fact, you’re right, my main point isn’t that Obama is black, it’s that he is not seen as “white” by the population of America but that that was not a barrier to him being elected President. I think that is an important cultural shift.

    I, like you, will judge him on the basis of his actions rather than his genetics, but the point of this post is not to encourage people to do otherwise. The point is rather addressing the fact that race exists and it is an issue, numerous scientific studies have proven that, and that examining how the issue affects America and the world, and how that is changing is interesting and important.

    alexlobov

    January 19, 2009 at 1:40 am


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