Watchman, What of the White?

My fellow honkies, let us not punk out

It’s been a hard month for people who are strongly invested in their whiteness. Which is weird, because being white is, in and of itself, dead easy.

Even allyship, as I understand they call it now, isn’t any kind of a hassle; my privilege is so checked it could be in a two-tone ska band. I’m not especially smart and certainly not very noble but even I am capable of understanding the advantages of my race are a historical artifact rather than something God wanted me to have and would be mad to see taken away.

I assume if you’re white and reading this newsletter you feel similarly, and probably aren’t suffering too much from the widespread demands that police stop killing black people, not to mention hassling them and arresting them at ridiculous levels for minor offenses like jaywalking and treating them disproportionately worse than white people in the judicial and prison systems, etc.

And you’ve probably seen the hundreds of videos taken just this month of police overreach and violence against innocent protestors, and thought what the fuck rather than good for them, fuck those dirty fucking hippies I hope the cops kill them all.

You’re probably also aware that neither the white privilege thing nor the kill-the-hippies thing has gone away. In fact, recent events seem to have inflamed those people more than usual and made their gabble madder.

Look at American Conservative columnist Rod Dreher — he’s deep into the old ooga-booga in the best of times, but since the protests began he’s on White Alert 24/7. Here’s something he said recently that sorta sums him up:

As disgusting as it was to see Donald Trump retweet a “white power” clip, however briefly, every single day brings a deluge of opinion and news coverage advancing what you might call “anti-white power.”

“White Power — Anti-White Power — obviously you have to choose, so make mine White Power!”

But even the less dedicated racists are jumpy, and working hard to defuse the current catalytic moment by conjuring ancient images of urban strife to scare the rubes into compliance with the Old Order. You’ve probably seen that, even though it’s been nearly a month since there’s been any looting or any rioting (other than that done by the cops), conservatives still refer to protests as “riots” (“Why the George Floyd Riots are a Distraction from Democrat Malfeasance,” June 24) and “looting” (“Riots, Arson, Looting, Destruction of Statues is Instigated by Marxist Colleges,” June 24). This is an old tradition — see for example Jeff Sessions referring to the 2009 arrest of Henry Louis Gates for attempting to enter his own home as a “riot,” and Gates as a “criminal.” And we all know how libertarians — who are basically white supremacists run through cheesecloth to make their supremacy whiter — feel about looters.

And you probably saw the McCloskeys, those two rich nuts in St. Louis who last weekend stormed out of their mansion to point guns at protesters for using their “private” street (i.e. passage through their racial-covenanted enclave) to get to the mayor’s house, and all the wingnuts who treated them as heroes (“HERE’S WHAT THE MEDIA ISN'T TELLING YOU”).

White people threatening unarmed black people with guns is kind of classic white power shit, and so is mainstream media outlets interviewing said gun-wielders and asking them, as local radio stations and Tucker Carlson did with the McCloskeys, what their feelings were, were they scared, what do they want America to know etc.

The good news is, if you think this is all as nuts as I do, evidence suggests you may represent the majority even among white people (“white voters were evenly split at 50 percent”) — and white people are a group that (a recent presidential election shows) has been notoriously difficult to educate.

And while you may consider the McCloskeys, in their yacht-rock leisurewear and NRA Ring of Freedom ordnance, the very essence of aggrieved white privilege, note that when they got called out they made a point of claiming they were supporters of Black Lives Matter. They may be assholes, and they are certainly insincere, but they’re no dummies and know which way the tide is running.

So while all this gabble may, like old football cheers, help the racists feel like winners, their team has increasing difficulty getting up a side and are on the verge of a forfeit.

There’s still a lot to do before we have even a marginally more just society: For one thing, the Democrats are almost as shitty about police reform (not to mention abolition) as the Republicans, and would rather paint words on the street than do anything real. But who could have imagined, a few months ago, that we’d see reform (much less abolition) even seriously discussed? If we don’t punk out we might really get somewhere.

And there’s some more white privilege for you: All you, my fellow honkies, really have to do is not backslide like those shitty boomers did in the 60s when society offered them cushy jobs to give up this social consciousness stuff. It should be easier for you, since society currently doesn’t have shit to offer as a bribe. ¡Venceremos!