Elliot Rodger was/is a white man.

For some people, this fact is very controversial and upsetting.

As I wrote in 'The True Alpha Male': The Santa Barbara Mass Shooting, Elliot Rodger, and Aggrieved White Male Entitlement Syndrome, when the bad behavior of white people is publicly called to account, said person’s relationship to “Whiteness” is rarely discussed.  

To be forced to include white mass murderers, madmen, and Right-wing domestic terrorists as part of the tribe is very uncomfortable and disconcerting.

This is understandable: what reasonable person would not want to excommunicate them from their community and affinity group?

Only white folks have such a luxury in the United States: a black rapist, thief, or murderer is de facto a representative of “the black race” with its “bad culture” and “pathologies”. There is no parallel for whites. The white murderer, thief, rapist, or mass shooter is an outlier, “mentally ill”, or some type of deviant whose behavior reveals nothing about white people en masse.

The boundaries of Whiteness and white privilege are heavily policed: bad people are “them”; good people are “us”.

Part of the appeal of “race” as a heuristic device and decision-rule is how it offers simple answers to complex social questions.

Despite what white supremacists and their allies would like to believe, race is a social construct with little to no biological basis. There is one race: the human race. Human beings have not existed long enough to be divided up into distinct breeds like dogs.

In the West, a person’s “blood quantum”, phenotype, or skin color has been, and continues to be used to calculate their location within a society’s racial hierarchy.

Stereotypes and assumptions related to behavior can also be neatly triangulated relative to race as well.

The question “what are you?” is often less an existential matter about consciousness and agency, than an effort to locate a given person within a society’s racial order.

The phrase “he or she ‘looks’ ‘Asian’, ‘Black’, ‘Hispanic’…” is a quick shortcut and decision-rule for slotting people into an arbitrary racial group—with the incumbent benefits and liabilities that come with that group membership.

Thus, the frustration/fascination when a person’s perceived racial identity does not match up with the stereotypes and expectations that dominant society projects onto them.

Race is complicated. Race and racism have a history. Both are inventions. They are not natural arrangements of power between groups of human beings. Consequently, race is a combination of law, day-to-day practices, “common sense”, arbitrary distinctions, habits, culture, “science”, and norms which have power over life chances.

As such, conceptions of race and racial identity reflect the political and social questions of a given era: they are a type of social witchcraft and mysticism.

For example, because of the “one drop rule”, a black American can get on a plane, fly to Brazil, and then magically be transformed into a “white” person because that country’s racial norms dictate that “one drop” of white blood makes you anything but “black”.

Likewise, during the American slave regime and then Jim and Jane Crow, a “black person” could move between races (literally crossing over from black to white and back to black again) by crossing state lines.

South Asians are darker in complexion than many if not most Black Americans. Yet, they are considered “white”, i.e. “Aryan” in terms of racial classification.

Over several generations “non-white” European immigrants such as the Irish, Italians, Slavs, Poles, Jews, became fully “white”. In the present, new research is calling attention to how Hispanic-Americans are increasingly choosing to identity themselves as “white”.

How do we locate Elliot Rodger within this complex story of race and identity?

Like gender, race is a type of performance.

It is a performance which can be sincere, authentic, stereotypical, deviant, natural, subversive, grotesque, beautiful, or ugly.

For example, there are about 40 million different ways to be black. This includes the young person who has internalized the ugly lie that he or she is “acting white” by being a serious and responsible student. By comparison, “acting black” also includes the studied grace, dignity, and black respectability of Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America.

There are likely as many ways to perform race (and ethnicity) as there are people in the United States.

The immigrant who is going to assimilate by being even more “American” than his native born fellow citizens, the “white negro” who acts “black” in order to upset his parents or to be “cool”, the Sikh who dresses up like Captain America in order to challenge narrow conceptions of who counts as an American, the Red State rural white voter who drives a pickup truck, watches NASCAR, and displays the Confederate flag, as well as the white suburbanite who is desperate to earn their WASP bonafides by joining a country club and going to the “right” schools, are all, in their own ways, performing race.

Race, gender, class, and sexuality are the dominant socio-organizational categories in American and Western society. They are the social and political air we breathe; to ignore how those categories influence our lives and personal identities is to deny empirical reality.

Elliot Rodger constructed an identity for himself as “Eurasian” and proceeded to internalize American society’s cues and lessons about power, privilege, race, and gender. He then lived out his own particular understanding of what it means to be white and male in the United States.

Elliot Rodger demanded and expected power and control over others. He saw respect from others not as something earned but rather as a birthright. Elliot Rodger’s life is the very definition of unearned privilege and advantage. In his desperate search for validation and affection from his white father, he projected and acted on a particular type of elite, dominative, aggressive, white masculinity and sense of entitlement.

While some would like to focus on the fact that he has an “Asian” mother as leverage for discounting his Whiteness—one of the intellectual weak spots of the White Right and the race science crowd is an obsession with “pure races”, which are non-existent, yet remain an intellectual fixation for white racists—Elliot Rodger was performing white masculinity as he understood it.

Whiteness is an identity based upon maintaining a superior power relationship over people of color.

Whiteness is not just a reflection of “biological race” or assumed racial group membership by virtue of parental or family lineage. Whiteness is a political project with its own set of values and normative assumptions about how society should be organized.

Elliot Rodger’s diaries contain numerous examples of white racial animus and hatred towards people of color. He wrote that black people were a lower type of human being:

“How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves. I deserve it more.”

He was disgusted that his “racial inferiors” had access to white women. People of color were basically “kaffirs” to him--inferiors to someone of his racial stock.

Elliot Rodger wrote online how:

"Today I drove through the area near my college and saw some things that were extremely rage-inducing. I passed by this restaurant and I saw this black guy chilling with 4 hot white girls. He didn’t even look good. Then later on in the day I was shopping at Trader Joe’s and saw an Indian guy with 2 above average White Girls!!! What rage-inducing sights did you guys see today? Don’t you just hate seeing these things when you go out? It just makes you want to quit life."

Elliot Rodger also felt no sense of linked fate or affinity with Asian-Americans: his identity as a “white” man, with “white blood” pulsing in his veins, elevated him above those he considered “lowly” Asians.

He also disparaged an Asian man who posted pictures of himself with a white woman:

"Full Asian men are disgustingly ugly and white girls would never go for you. You’re just butthurt that you were born as an asian piece of shit, so you lash out by linking these fake pictures. You even admit that you wish you were half white. You’ll never be half-white and you’ll never fulfill your dream of marrying a white woman. I suggest you jump off a bridge."

Elliot Rodger’s particular version of white male identity dictated that he was superior to people of color in all ways—and the greatest offense was their not respecting his control over and access to white women’s bodies. Dominance and power over people of color was one of the central ways that Elliot Rodger understood his identity as a man.

Elliot Rodger both idealized and idolized Whiteness and White Masculinity.

Rodger wrote in fawning and obsessive language about his desire to be accepted among the “superior” white men who had sexual access to the white women he coveted. Elliot Rodger dyed his hair blonde in order to look more like a white person.

In describing that experience, he wrote how:

"This revelation about the world, and about myself, really decreased my self-esteem. On top of this was the feeling that I was different because I am of mixed race. I am half White, half Asian, and this made me different from the normal fully-white kids that I was trying to fit in with. I envied the cool kids, and I wanted to be one of them. I was a bit frustrated at my parents for not shaping me into one of these kids in the past. They never made an effort to dress me in stylish clothing or get me a good-looking haircut. I had to make every effort to rectify this. I had to adapt.

My first act was to ask my parents to allow me to bleach my hair blonde. I always envied and admired blonde-haired people, they always seemed so much more beautiful. My parents agreed to let me do it, and father took me to a hair salon on Mulholland Drive in Woodland Hills.

Choosing that hair salon was a bad decision, for they only bleached the top of my head blonde. When I indignantly questioned why they didn't make all of my hair blonde, they said that I was too young for a full bleaching. I was furious. I thought I looked so silly with blonde hair at the top of my head and black hair at the sides and back. I dreaded going to school the next day with this weird new hair.

When I arrived at school the next day, I was intensely nervous. Before class started, I stood in a corner franticly trying to figure out how I would go about revealing this to everyone. Trevor was the first one to notice it, and he came up to me and patted my head, saying that it was very "cool." Well, that was exactly what I wanted. My new hair turned out to be quite a spectacle, and for a few days I got a hint of the attention and admiration I so craved."

He was happy that his hair and features were not like that of those other racially marked, and to his eyes, inferior “full blooded” Asians. The first victims in his murder spree were his Asian roommates, men whom he considered weak and vulnerable. In many ways, Elliot Rodger’s manifesto is a love letter to Whiteness and white people. Like a spurned lover or obsessive fan, Elliot Rodger turned on them because he did not feel fully accepted by his racially idealized and idolized community as a “real” white man.

The cultural economy of sex and race played an important role in Elliot Rodger’s obsession with white blonde women.

White women are among the most protected classes of people in the United States. White women are also represented as the most desirable and attractive type of woman by the mass media. Elliot Rodger’s fixation on “blondes”—as an idealized female form—reflected the lessons about race, sex, and desirability that he learned as a young man in American society.

It is important to highlight how Elliot Rodger was not obsessed with women in general. He did not fixate on black women, Asians, or Latinas. Rodger’s fetish for white blonde women reflects broader (white) American (and global) cultural norms: colorism remains a powerful force in black and brown communities around the world.

Elliot Rodger’s sexual obsession exists within a broader social context. Recent research at UCLA-Berkeley has revealed how black women are considered the least desirable potential partners on online dating sites such as OK Cupid. And although black women are more likely to be victims of kidnapping and assault, crimes against them (and other women of color) are grossly under-reported by the mainstream news media. By comparison, what has come to be known as “missing white woman syndrome” is a trope that dominates news coverage.

Elliot Rodger’s obsession with white blonde women was an extension of a type of white masculinity that views white women and white femininity as prizes to be desired, protected, objectified, and controlled.

Wait a minute! Elliot Rodger’s mother was Asian! How can he be white!

These predictable (and tired) objections reflect a desire for simplicity in how race is conceptualized and discussed.

Whiteness is malleable.

Elliot Rodger is a white man with an “Asian” mother. Allowing for how race is constructed in a very different way for African-Americans, Barack Obama is a black man with a white mother. Moreover, Rodger’s Asian ancestry would be of no concern if he did not commit mass murder: there would be no reason for those who police the boundaries of Whiteness and white privilege to jettison him from the clan.

However, Elliot Rodger’s “Asian” identity could be central to solving the puzzle that is his violent and murderous masculinity.

Asian men are routinely depicted in a feminized and asexual manner by American popular media. In the American racial imagination, Asian men have variously been the source of moral panics about “white slavery”, stereotyped as alien Others and traitors, or as sexual deviants (see the recent Hangover movies and the "Leslie Chow" character). Historically, American masculinity has been inexorably tied to a particular type of “rugged”, “independent”, and “robust” type of white male identity.

Elliot Rodger, as detailed by his manifesto, was enraged that he could not reach the epitome of white masculinity that American society has constructed as unattainable for someone racially marked (and stigmatized) as Asian.

Roger’s search for “alpha male” status left him in a state of racial limbo.

He embraced Whiteness as a set of values, habits, and beliefs; Elliot Roger thought of himself as a type of white man.

African-American literature has a stock character called the “tragic mulatto”. In some ways, Elliot Roger is a parallel type of figure: he lacked a properly integrated sense of racial self and identity. He was/is a tragic “mixed race” white Asian who worshiped Whiteness, yet could not attain it in the manner, and to the degree, he desperately desired.

Most important, Elliot Rodger embodies the worst aspects of American society.

He was easily able to purchase a gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition which he then used to kill six people. Once more, the fetish for the gun, and a perverse gun culture that links gun ownership to masculinity, led to murder.

Elliot Rodger was a misogynist and a sexist.

Elliot Rodger’s hatred of women drove him to kill because he felt denied his “natural” right to control women and men’s access to their bodies.

Elliot Rodger was a racist. He felt that he was superior, by virtue of his parentage and over-identification with Whiteness, to African Americans and other people of color. Elliot Rodger’s embrace of Whiteness—as de facto white supremacy—fueled and legitimated, in his mind, a murder spree because his racially privileged rights of birth were denied him.

Elliot Rodger was empowered by classism and a profound sense of entitlement and power over those he deemed “beneath” him. Just as some members of the American 1 percent believe that they are imperiled, and thus facing some type of “Holocaust” and “oppression” at the hands of the “takers”, Elliot Rodger was the ideal-typical spoiled brat, born on the 3rd base of life, yet angry at the world because he thought that he in fact had hit a home run.

Elliot Rodger was rageful because he was denied, at least in his mind, his natural place in the American social order as a rich white man. Aggrieved white male entitlement syndrome led him to commit murder.

As an astute commenter wisely noted on the social media site Twitter, there are many landmines in America who are similarly primed and ready to explode.

Are the American people ready and prepared for more Elliot Rodgers? And how will too many of its citizens explain away the ugly synergy that is racism, classism, guns, and sexism when it kills again?

As I often ask, "what shall we do with the white people?"

When an "Arab" or "Muslim" American kills people in mass they are a "terrorist". When a black person shoots someone they are "thugs". When a white man commits a mass shooting he is "mentally ill" or "sick".

Whiteness and white privilege are the luxury to be an individual, one whose behavior reflects nothing about white people as a group.

There will be not be a national discussion of a culture of "white pathology" or how white Americans may have a "cultural problem" with their young men and gun violence. The news media will not devote extensive time to the "social problem" of white male violence and mass shootings.

Elliot Rodger, a rich, white, entitled, young man allegedly shot and killed (as he apparently hunted them down) six women while driving his BMW around Santa Barbara, California late last night. Like Adam Lanza, this would appear to be a case of aggrieved white male entitlement syndrome, one which has led to a murderous and tragic outcome.

I have written about what I term "aggrieved white male entitlement syndrome" onseveral occasions.

In a complementary manner, William Hamby offers up a sharp synthesis of how rage and white male privilege come together to create monsters:

Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel (2010) proposed a mechanism that might well explain why white males are routinely going crazy and killing people. It's called "aggrieved entitlement." According to the authors, it is "a gendered emotion, a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back. And its gender is masculine." This feeling was clearly articulated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine Massacre. Harris said, "People constantly make fun of my face, my hair, my shirts..." A group of girls asked him, "Why are you doing this?" He replied, "We've always wanted to do this. This is payback... This is for all the sh*t you put us through. This is what you deserve."

At the risk of getting too existentialist, I'd like to propose a very simple and elegant explanation for not only school shootings but a host of other barbaric acts in recent years: White men are having a crisis of both aggrievement and entitlement. One need only look at the 2012 election season to see less brutal but equally mind-numbing examples of white men going mad because they are losing their power. The "Republican Meltdown" is a perfect example of men who previously had all the control escalating to madness when that control was lost...

The thing is, losing power hurts. That's the "aggrieve" part of aggrieved entitlement. It's one thing for a bunch of white men to feel hurt because they are no longer the kings of their own private castles, rulers of all they survey. It's another thing for them to feel like they're entitled to power, and more importantly, entitled to punish others for taking it away. And that -- aggrievement plus the feeling of entitlement -- is what may well drive people like Adam Lanza to these horrific crimes.

Elliot Rodger apparently explained his rage and "alpha male" bonafides as reported by police officials in the following way:

"Bill Brown, the Santa Barbara sheriff, said that “written and videotaped evidence” obtained by the authorities “suggests that this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder”.

“There’s going to be a lot more information that will come out that will give a clearer picture of just how disturbed this individual was,” he added.

Asked about the specific video by Rodger, the sheriff, called it “evidence that we believe is connected to this crime”.

In that recording, Rodger spewed forth his plans to wreak murderous revenge for his failure to find a girlfriend. “Tomorrow is the day of retribution,” the man said. “The day in which I will have my revenge against humanity.”

After detailing how “girls have never been attracted to me,” he threatened to “slaughter” members of a college sorority house – a group for female students - and then “take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there”.

In comments interspersed with sickening laughs and chuckles, he said: “I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl.  

“College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it.”

“I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one. The true alpha male."

And just as in Adam Lanza's case (and others) there will be no "national conversation" about why white men are 30 or so percent of the United States population and approximately 70 percent of those who commit mass shootings.

Any brave soul who dares to talk about white masculinity, white privilege, and gun violence will be hounded by the Right-wing's dogs--a media machine that cares nothing for the truth. Many otherwise decent, smart, and fair-minded white folks may also recoil at the thought that Whiteness and White Masculinity can be dysfunctional and violence. When an entire social structure has been erected to reinforce the lie that white folks are "normal", and those "Others" are "deviant" or "defective", it can be very difficult to break out of that haze of denial. Such an act requires a commitment to truth-telling and personal, critical, self-reflection which Whiteness, by definition, denies to most of its owners.

White privilege and Whiteness hurts white people. Aggrieved white male entitlement syndrome is killing white folks' children, wives, daughters, sons, fathers, and mothers. Yet, White America stands mute.

Again, what shall we do with the white people...especially if they are so unwilling to help themselves?

I am still working through my thoughts on Ta-Nehisi Coates' much discussed essay on slavery reparations.

Ta-Nehisi Coates will be on Melissa Harris-Perry's TV program this weekend. I am curious to see how he parses a long essay into a set of television talking-points. Melissa Harris-Perry is a great interviewer--and an expert on the material covered by "The Case for Reparations"--so the conversation should be very educational for the viewers of the show.

As I wrote here, I am fascinated by the comments that The Case for Reparations has generated over at the Atlantic and the other much less moderated sites across the Internet (speaking of which, one of the moderators of Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog was kind enough to chime in here).

If one needs any more confirmation that white supremacy remains a real social force in American life simply read the comments in response to Coates' The Case for Reparations.

The Internet is one part of what is termed "the backstage" of modern American racism. It is a space for people to act out publicly what their (semi)private thoughts actually are. Now, take the next step. Those bigots are your neighbors, friends, colleagues, and perhaps even your family members. Meditate on that fact.

For white folks, the above is a thought experiment. For people of color, it is a matter of life and death.

Most of the comments in response to Coates' new essay are standard, white racist, "color blind" talking-points. Consequently, they are uninteresting, merely a reveal of the White Right's intellectual bankruptcy in post civil rights America.

However, there is one emerging meme in the comments against Coates' essay that merits some attention. Contrary to what some racists would suggest--be they active or passive, intentional or accidental, or just drunk on white privilege and the white racial frame--slavery reparations (or for the myriad of other state sponsored crimes against black people in America) are not a "lottery".

Reparations, of any form, are an act of acknowledgement that a crime has occurred, and said victim should be made whole both materially and financially, as well as through the moral gesture of an apology.

A lottery is a random win. A lottery is fun. The crime against humanity that was centuries of white on black chattel slavery across the Black Atlantic, more than one hundred years of Racial Apartheid in the United States under Jim and Jane Crow, and then decades more, into the present, of continued institutional white supremacy, is not fun or entertaining for African-Americans or other people of color.

It is more than glib. Using the word "lottery" to describe slavery reparations is an act of violence through language against black folks' humanity. When the justice claims of black Americans are reduced to the randomness of a game and the monies that can come with winning it, white racists and their allies are mocking and dancing on the graves of the recent dead, the long-dead, and those in the present whose life chances continue to be negatively impacted by white supremacy.

There is mounting empirical research which suggests that white people do not feel empathy towards people of color. And maybe that is the point? If you do not feel any sense of empathy or shared humanity with black people then why would a person not spit in the face of their lived experiences by reducing their justice claims to a "lottery"?

Do share if you would. What are some of the most obnoxious and racist comments you have encountered online in response to Coates' new essay on reparations for the crimes committed against African-Americans? What are some of the smarter and more insightful comments, either pro or con, that you have read?

The claim that America is going to become a "majority-minority" nation in the next few decades is a truism that does political work. For Democrats and the left, they see this as an opportunity to expand their voting base by embracing a multicultural America. For Republicans and conservatives, the "browning of America" is a type of threat which they can use to mobilize racially resentful white voters.

However, both perspectives are grounded in a short-term understanding of how race has historically worked in the United States.

A long-term view demonstrates how race is a dynamic process, one that evolves and changes, in response to the political needs and questions of a given moment. As such, who is considered "white" for example, is a reflection of a given arrangement of social and political power: "Whiteness" and who is considered "white" are not fixed or immutable categories.

Truisms and common sense understandings of race do not make them empirically true. New research from the Pew Research Center on the changing racial identities of Hispanic-Americans would appear to upset the "majority-minority" narrative which has come to dominate the media (and the public's) understanding of the color line in the Age of Obama.

The New York Times reports:

An estimated net 1.2 million Americans of the 35 million Americans identified in 2000 as of “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin,” as the census form puts it, changed their race from “some other race” to “white” between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, according to research presented at an annual meeting of the Population Association of America and reported by Pew Research.

The researchers, who have not yet published their findings, compared individual census forms from the 2000 and 2010 censuses. They found that millions of Americans answered the census questions about race and ethnicity differently in 2000 and 2010. The largest shifts were among Americans of Hispanic origin, who are the nation’s fastest growing ethnic group by total numbers.

The Times continue with:

The data provide new evidence consistent with the theory that Hispanics may assimilate as white Americans, like the Italians or Irish, who were not universally considered to be white. It is particularly significant that the shift toward white identification withstood a decade of debate over immigration and the country’s exploding Hispanic population, which might have been expected to inculcate or reinforce a sense of Hispanic identity, or draw attention to divisions that remain between Hispanics and non-Hispanic white Americans. Research suggests that Hispanics who have experienced discrimination are less likely to identify as white.

The data also call into question whether America is destined to become a so-called minority-majority nation, where whites represent a minority of the nation’s population. Those projections assume that Hispanics aren’t white, but if Hispanics ultimately identify as white Americans, then whites will remain the majority for the foreseeable future.

The ways in which Hispanics are crossing over into Whiteness demonstrates how race is a learned concept. Here, Hispanics are embracing whiteness as a social identity--and the privileges which come with it--while mating it with their own particular history of colorism.

Social scientists have introduced new concepts such as "elevated ethnics" (African immigrants; immigrants from South and East Asia) in order to complicate and enrich our understanding of how race in America is ostensibly no longer a simple matter of "black" and "white". But in seeking to complicate (and perhaps even depart from) the theoretical framework provided by the black-white binary--a set of rules and a hierarchy that has dominated American life for centuries--we must also proceed with caution.

Pew's new research is a reminder that Whiteness (and most importantly, being perceived as "white") is still viewed as the preferred and most social desirable racial identity in the United States.

This is a function of political socialization, habit, and training.

The yearning of those immigrants who can "pass over" into Whiteness is also fueled by realpolitik: given the disparate life chances between blacks and whites, and the historic power of white supremacy to make black folks' lives a living hell, if given the choice, who would "rationally" decide to become "black"?

Race still impacts measures of social distance in the United States. Black Americans are also ranked lowest for desirability as potential marriage partners by whites, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans.

Brother Malcolm X brilliantly observed, with his uncommon grace and candor, that the first word an immigrant to the United States learns is "nigger".

The "majority-minority" fictive narrative is compelling, but it is not able to overcome a basic fact: blacks are the bottom rung of the racial hierarchy in the United States against which all others are judged, and that many groups, quite literally, stand upon in their ascension to Whiteness.

Whiteness is a fictive category based on how one group arbitrarily defined as "white" is positioned as dominant over those others who are marked as "non-white". By definition and nature, Whiteness evolves to induct new members in order to maintain its majority status.

Whiteness must maintain power in order to have meaning as a racial category.

Consequently, it is very difficult if not impossible for the United States to conquer the inequalities of the color line unless Whiteness is destroyed because the latter as a concept and lived experience is wholly dependent on maintaining in-group status, privilege, and power over people of color.

In the spirit of the comedian David Chappelle, if there is a "racial draft" in the United States "white" Hispanics and Latinos will become the newest group of official "white" people. They will be joined by "mixed race" Asians and Pacific Islanders who will also be fully inducted into the family of Whiteness.

By definition, black Americans can never be white because they are the lynch pin and cornerstone of the American racial order. Thus, a paradox: everyone wants to be "black" if it involves music, culture, and perhaps even sex. But no one really wants to be Black if it involves our lived personhood.

White racists like Donald Sterling are racial piñatas. They are a fun and easy target. When people like Donald Sterling are hit and burst, a moment of public racial catharsis takes place.

It is very easy for “good” people to chase the overt, cartoonish, white racist out of the public square on a rail. However, it is far more difficult to examine one’s own complicity with white privilege and white supremacy. The monster is easy to slay; the polite racist who looks like “us”, and behaves “politely”, is far more difficult to confront.

In all, exiling a white racist like Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy is a fun act.

It is harder to talk about substantive matters like structural racism.

Donald Sterling’s racist speech as recorded by his mistress is an easy target; the white racist who limits the life chances of black and brown people by refusing to rent or sell them homes, or denying them mortgages, is a far more difficult topic for conversation.

American society is extremely segregated along lines of race and class. Unfortunately, both in the present and the past, there are people of color who have made a tactical choice to be complicit with the forces of white supremacy for personal gain.

As Frederick Douglass so wisely observed, “power concedes nothing without a demand”. By extension, there are individuals who have have decided to surrender to it as a survival strategy and means of personal enrichment.

In that role, Tea Party darling black conservative Allen West is a human puppet for the White Right. He has embraced such contemptible and specious Right-wing beliefs as Birtherism, the Benghazi-fetish, and that white people are somehow “oppressed” in the Age of Obama. If Clarence Thomas is “the worst black man in the history of black people”, Allen West is in his orbit.

Allen West once bragged about being the only black member of a white supremacist motorcycle gang. Reasonable people would be ashamed to make such a pronouncement. Allen West thought it to be an honorable claim, something to be proud of.

Angela Graham-West is no different from her spouse. And like Donald Sterling, she has profited from practicing housing discrimination against people of color.

In support of Cliven Bundy, Angela Graham-West shared the following on her Facebook page:

When I lived in New York I worked at Clairol during the day in the marketing department of the professional products division. I had a great time and LOVED to go to work, but there was one problem........ I only made $38K per year. A real pittance in New York.... so I had to find another way to make money. I started an "apartment matching" business. In other words, I matched people with available apartments for rent. For that they paid me, in cash, 16% of the year's rent prior to getting a lease and keys. I soon made several times my yearly salary, still kept my job and loved it even more because I never suffered from the "short money" syndrome again. AND I met people....

My partner was a Chinese woman who owned the real estate franchise of ReMax and basically she told me "this is business and we are the color of green"...... most of the people you meet will "let down their hair" and reveal to you all types of "pettyfoggery" .... actually that was not the word she used but I want to keep it clean. And I found out quickly that the most liberal, ethereal, earth-shoe wearing, animal kissing, vegan, "people loving" liberal landlords wanted me to make sure that I did not bring them "God forbid": Blacks (they never pay on time), Puerto Ricans (they don't pay on time and are too loud); Indians (they pay on time but cook smelly foods), "mixed couples (too much trouble). AND because I have a tendency to never let anyone know what I am thinking...... they let their collective hair down, I stoically stared at them and I got plenty of clients. Everyday as I got into my apartment, there were at least 12 - 20 requests..... on the answering machine.

Angela Graham-West continues with:

There were "code-words" ....."I only want Americans"; "Angela, I love you BUT you are different"....etc... Italians wanted Italians - no Blacks or Spanish; Jewish were stratified by orthodoxy or non-religious as well as original geography; Not all Spanish are the same.... those from Europe are different from the Puerto Ricans or the Dominicans; Jamaicans don't want African Americans.....; Jamaicans don't want Haitians; Jamaicans don't like anyone; Africans don't like anyone but other Africans and so forth. You get the picture.... I complied and made a six figure living.

People have biases. PERIOD.

Angela Graham-West (likely) broke the law. And she profited, without consequence, from doing so.

White supremacy, in a manner akin sexism and homophobia, often has allies among those who are being oppressed and discriminated against by the in-group. Why? The material and psychological wages, a feeling by the perpetrators that they are “special” and “not like the other ones”, and the lucre that comes with such surrender, is very compelling for the weak-minded, vulnerable, and easily shamed.

Angela Graham-West is not alone in her behavior.

During the centuries of chattel slavery in the Americans, there were free blacks who would pretend to be the friends and allies of runaways in order to trick them for the purpose of collecting a bounty from white slave catchers. White real estate agents would often hire African-Americans to approach white homeowners, and tell the latter that “they were moving in to the neighborhood” in order to create panic selling-selling for the purposes of “blockbusting”.

Racism is prejudice plus power. Consequently, white men such as Donald Sterling are uniquely capable of racism in contemporary America.

However, day-to-day life is far more complicated than the above academic and scholarly definitions of racism. White supremacy can, and sometimes is, aided and abetted by people of color.

Black conservatives play that role in the post civil rights era United States.

It would be an error of inference to conclude that because there are black and brown conservatives like Allen West, Herman Cain, Jesse Lee Peterson, Alan Keyes, Michelle Malkin, and Dinesh D’Souza, those who embrace white supremacy, that somehow racism is “everyone’s sin, and thus, no one’s sin at all”.

White racists such as Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling have black and brown minions. The former are rational actors of a sort who are advancing their own agenda of maintaining white privilege (and its resources) for themselves (and ostensibly other white people) at the exclusion (and expense) of non-whites.

By comparison, black and brown conservatives are race traitors and mercenaries who, like their white conservative masters, are cashing a check with the full knowledge that people of color will suffer because of their deeds…and they do not care.

Black conservatives such as Angela Graham-West are complicit with white racism. The justification is a paycheck. Donald Sterling is an easy target for public outrage. Unfortunately, there are likely too many people of color like Angela Graham-West, on their knees, doing the bidding of bigots such as Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy.

If Sterling and his ilk are being driven out of the public square on a rail, their black and brown collaborators should be either under the train or near its engine shoveling the coal.

Whiteness is myopic. Whiteness is also a type of selective remembering and forgetting. Whiteness allows its owners and subscribers to cherry-pick from history in order to fulfill a hard times myth of exclusive and extreme white ethnic struggle, or to deny that they, because their people had “difficulties” in America, are somehow now incapable of being “racist”.

The converts—the Poles, Russians, Italians, Slavs, Jews, and others—whose people have only recently crossed over in 20th century America from being “quasi white” to “fully white”, are among the most visceral and impassioned defenders of Whiteness.

They are like the religious convert prone to fundamentalist zealotry, strapping a bomb on their bodies, railing against the “non-believer” or “apostate” in order to prove that he or she is the truest of the true believers.

Being late to a party often means that one tends to drink a bit too much in order to catch up with the guests who arrived either early or on time. Religion and racial identity often follow the same guidelines.

The person whose people are one or two or even three generations removed from crossing over from nebulous Whiteness to those now considered “normal” and “regular” white people often find themselves working hard to be more “White” than any other “white” person.

My relatives, by blood, kinship, or adopted, always warned me to watch out for a white person who just figured out that they are in fact “White”. Why? Because people like that are very dangerous and treacherous. Their race pride, based on nothing but a new found discovery that they too are now able to put their foot on a black or brown person’s throat (or even those who they view as not "really white") is so tempting to them—few can resist its power.

Whiteness can be a slippery possession. It is also a performance where some try to outdo their peers in a day-to-day competition along the colorline, fighting to protect and earn White Privilege.

Princeton University’s Right-wing angry white male wunderkind Tal Fortgang has received much attention this week for his spirited essay in defense of White Privilege.

Tal Fortgang is a beneficiary of fortuitous timing: the last few weeks have seen a storm of white folks behaving badly; he is the newest star of the moment.

Cliven Bundy is the racist hillbilly. Donald Sterling is the racist multimillionaire caught on tape disparaging African-Americans while speaking to his black-Hispanic mistress. Tal Fortgang is the privileged young white man straight out of central casting who answered a call for a racist arrogant country club type.

For Tal Fortgang, White Privilege is something earned and magically transmitted to him like the Divine Right of (White) Kings through blood by the hard work of his ancestors (and of course black and brown people do not have this legacy). Thus, Fortgang is a living version of a popular truism: he was born on the 3rd base of life and honestly believes that he hit a home run…and was denied the score by a group of cheating black and brown umpires.

The origins of Tal Fortgang’s success in gaining the national media’s attention ought not to be mysterious.

He is a product of a Right-wing media machine that is looking for a fresh face. There is nothing organic or spontaneous about Tal Fortgang’s essay in the Right-wing rag “The Princeton Tory”. He is a mercenary, propped up by his connections, who will use him to throw up flack and chaff as an agent of the Right-wing noise machine. A high volume of fire is the Right-wing’s preferred strategy—even if they rarely hit their targets. But as Stalin observed, “quantity has a quality all its own”.

Tal Fortgang is Jewish: his white ethnic identity is central to his shtick and white victimology hustle. He grasps the surface contours of how that category does work for his white privilege/white ethnic hustle without really understanding the history upon which it tenuously stands.

The beautiful, grotesque, ugly, irony of Tal Fortgang’s essay is that Princeton and other Ivy League institutions had anti-Jewish quotas through to the middle part of the 20th century.

Jerome Karabel, author of book The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, explains how:

Harvard, Yale and Princeton, up until the very early 1920s, had an exam-based system of admission. If you passed you were admitted. If you failed you were turned away. If you were in the gray zone, then they might admit you on conditions but basically, if you passed, regardless of your social background, you would be admitted.

Leadership, Character

That was precisely why the system was judged to be no longer viable because too many of the wrong students, the ``undesirable'' students -- that is, predominantly, Jewish students of East European background -- started to pass the exams.
So an entirely new system of admissions was invented with emphasis on such things as character, leadership, personality, alumni parentage, athletic ability, geographical diversity. They started, for the first time, to do interviews. They introduced photos. A lot of things, which we take for granted today, in fact, were introduced in this period and have endured to the present…

Well, at Harvard, the Jewish proportion of the freshmen class in 1925 had reached 28 percent and shortly thereafter, after a very protracted and bitter struggle, which lasted from 1922 really to 1926, Harvard imposed a 15 percent quota. At Yale, the proportion of Jews had reached toward 14 percent and in 1924, they imposed a 10 percent quota. At Princeton where the proportion of Jews had gotten only to 3.6 percent, they decided that that was excessive and they cut the proportion of Jews to 2 percent in 1924. That's in contrast to African Americans, who were totally excluded from Princeton until 1945.

Writing about Karabel’s book, The Boston Globe's John Silber discusses how:

The flow of freshmen to the Big Three could be carefully controlled, however, by opening new tributaries and cutting others off. After succeeding Eliot as Harvard's president in 1909, Abbott Lawrence Lowell briefly served as national vice president of the Immigration Restriction League; those whom Lowell could not keep out of the United States could certainly be kept out of Harvard. As Karabel astutely notes, Harvard's first genuinely selective admissions process, in full force by 1926, was not designed to improve the intellectual caliber of the student body; if it had been, test scores and transcripts would have sufficed.  

Instead Harvard established a regimen of individual interviews and letters of recommendation designed to take measure of a young man's character. Behind the scenes admissions officers scrutinized enrollment cards for town of birth, family names, parental occupations, and other information with a single question in mind -- what degree of Jewishness did the student demonstrate? Was he a J1, conclusively Jewish, or perhaps a J2, a student whose file showed a ''preponderance of evidence" of being a ''Hebrew"? If so, the student faced stiffer odds of admissions under Lowell's unofficial 15 percent quota for Jews in each freshman class.

The situation at Yale was little better: Despite Yale's professed mission to educate the nation, The Yale Daily News called for an ''Ellis Island for Yale" to make sure incoming students were of suitable ''character, personality, promise and background." At Princeton, admissions officers mimicked the selection process for the newly founded Rhodes scholarships, where ''scholarship and character" were judged equally. ''Character," Karabel notes, was a vague quality ''thought to be frequently lacking among Jews but present almost congenitally among high-status Protestants."

Given Tal Fortgang’s belief in the intangible’s of “character” and “hard-work” passed down to him by his ancestors, the fact that Jewish Americans were not seen by White Elites as possessing those traits should be a wake up call against his defense of White Privilege.

I doubt that it will resonate for him. Tal Fortgang is not capable of understanding how the White Elites who discriminated against his people, as well as African-Americans and other people of color, would also hold him in low regard.

Tal Fortgang’s youthful ahistorical Whiteness will find strength in Princeton’s anti-Jewish quotas as he will see them as one more credit in his metaphorical account of white struggle and white victimology.

A more evolved, ethically grounded, wise, and reflective person would see his or her history as one who is newly White, and whose people were subjected to ugly discrimination and prejudice, as a reason to find common ground and sympathy with black and brown Americans.

Moreover, an evolved, principled, and critically self-reflective white Jewish American, would understand that White Privilege is nothing to defend or celebrate, as that same logic was used to justify discrimination and bigotry against his or her people as the “natural” order of things.

As a member of the hip hop generation, listening to Public Enemy while I figured out my own “blackness”, and who came of age watching the trouble between Hassidic Jews and Blacks in New York during the 1980s, I am very fascinated by the supposed “special” relationship between African-Americans and Jewish-Americans.

To point. I have fond memories of listening to Cornel West talk and write about the role that Jewish brothers and sisters played in supporting the Black Freedom Struggle.

And yes, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem remains one of my favorite books despite its problematic conceit that Jewish suffering is greater than that of the Middle Passage, centuries of chattel slavery, and then decades of Jim and Jane Crow for black Americans in the world’s “greatest democracy”.

Hell is hell; such a conclusion does not mean that one ought to be blind to hard questions about disparate material outcomes and realities along the colorline, and as experienced by different groups in the United States and elsewhere.

As scholars such as Matthew Frye Jacobson and Karen Brodkin remind us, Jewish Americans only recently crossed over to Whiteness in the aftermath of World War Two.

Unfortunately, the bargain that mated “Jewishness” with “Whiteness” for people like Princeton Right-wing darling Tal Fortgang, involved picking up the baggage of white racial resentment and White Supremacy.

Race in America is an animal kingdom. A person or group can choose to be predator or victim. As a group, white ethnics chose to be the former as a function of crude material self-interest. Such a decision may be understandable or even rational. It does not absolve white ethnics and those others now seeking Whiteness of moral culpability or responsibility for what that bargain entails.

Whiteness is a choice. It obligates its members to betray the full human rights and dignity of those deemed “non-white”.

Once more, as Brother Noel Ignatiev said so beautifully in Race Traitor, treason to Whiteness is loyalty to humanity.

Should white ethnics such as Tal Fortgang (and we also should not overlook how Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling--original surname “Turkowitz”--is also a Jewish brother) be held to a different standard of racial justice given their roots in a group most recently grandfathered into Whiteness, and that experienced horrible discrimination because of their cultural and “racial” identity?

I admire Tal Fortgang's hustle. It takes lots of cultivated hubris and myopic whiteness to write suck dreck and to defend said mess on national television:

There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens to strike down opinions without regard for their merits, but rather solely on the basis of the person that voiced them. “Check your privilege,” the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year. The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung.

“Check your privilege,” they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world...It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character... It’s not a matter of white or black, male or female or any other division which we seek, but a matter of the values we pass along, the legacy we leave, that perpetuates “privilege.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Social media, a slow news cycle, and being a white victimologist wunderkind in the Age of Obama does have its advantages. Moreover, being a privileged white male victimologist wunderkind at Princeton University, who can use his privilege to get some shine, while also denying the existence of empirical realities such as white racism and white privilege, is some Three-Card Monte 3D Star Trek chess gamesmanship.

There is also a beautiful ugly irony at work in Fortgang's essay: he is denying the existence of white privilege and he is Jewish, a member of a group that recently earned their "whiteness" in the second part of the 20th century. His ancestors in the United States knew a great deal about the realities of white supremacy and white privilege. Many of them were not even be able to gain admission to an Ivy League institution because of a anti-Jewish quota system.  

One of the powers of Whiteness is its ability to create amnesia among white folks. Fortgang is an object lesson in that fact.

I am loathe to feed Tal Fortgang's ego by rewarding how he successfully trolled too many folks with his essay in Princeton's student newspaper. But, Fortgang (and those on Fox News and elsewhere who are enabling him) is the future-present of white racism and white supremacy in the post civil rights era.

One of the causes of the Great Recession was how rent-seeking, corruptcasino capitalists and Wall Street hustlers, were able to game the system with the knowledge that there would no real consequences for their destructive behavior.

Many of them likely went to business school and/or majored in finance or a related discipline while undergraduates. These criminals had a liberal arts education. But somewhere along the way, they may not have taken courses in philosophy or ethics. If so, said financial gangsters did not internalize a sense of justice, a sense of linked fate with other people, or the basic principles of secular humanism and the Common Good.

Allowing for those in the financier and plutocratic classes who are sociopathic (I do not mean this as a mere turn of phrase or fun play on words; I encountered one such person in a classroom who proudly announced that his goal in life was to be fabulously wealthy, he would lie and cheat to that end, and destroy anyone that got in his way. I told this student that the poor have to eat and he would be the meal) it is readily apparent that too many students simply check off the mental boxes to get a grade and do not reflect upon or internalize knowledge as a means towards critical self-reflection. As the university becomes more of a trade school and degree mill those outcomes will be increasingly common.

The inverse of a student who does not learn or internalize material in the best spirit of how it is taught or intended is the person that takes information and uses it for contrary or ethically problematic ends.

In college, one of my favorite professors was a direct and politically conservative sociologist who happened to be white. One of his favorite students knocked on the office door one day several years after graduating. My professor-mentor was happily surprised as his former student shared how all that he learned in the former's classes on social inequality had been put to good use. The professor was initially pleased because he had a transformative impact on a (then) young student. His hopes were soon deflated and broken as the now adult professional explained how he used all the information about redlining, housing segregation, job discrimination, and the like to make lots of money as a real estate agent who discriminated against people of color.

Cut from the same mold, young students such as Tal Fortgang are the new face of white racism and white supremacy in post civil rights America.

Of course, racism has evolved and changed over time. But, as revealed by measures such as wealth and income inequality, residential segregation, school performance, as well as the persistence of institutional white supremacy in the legal system and job market, Jim and Jane Crow were simply replaced by a multicultural elite class that serves as the human paint and veneer on a white supremacist society where race still over-determines life outcomes to the advantage of white people.

The post civil rights generation has learned the language of anti-racism and white supremacy. In the same moment, white supremacy and overt racial animus has migrated from the frontstage of American life to the backstage, and other private spaces. Tal Fortgang is one of many white students, and some deluded and self-hating people of color in the same cohort, who have learned the language of anti-racism well enough to be conversant while using it to advance the cause of white supremacy.

They are young Padawans--Star Wars day was last weekend, please indulge me--who are tempted by the Dark Side to challenge their masters. I worry that many of the supposed Jedi Masters have become weak and rusty in their skills because they have been surrounded for too long by all too willing students, trained like Pavlov's dogs to respond with "politically correct" and "anti-racist" slogans.

Tal Fortgang's essay is easily gutted by a basic appeal to the facts of American history, and how the arbitrariness of who is considered "white by law", have over-determined upward mobility and life success in the United States for centuries.

Tal Fortgang's claim on his fore bearer's "hard work" as somehow being his own, and somehow making him virtuous and righteous in comparison to others not so lucky, is the very definition of white privilege as a type of unearned advantage. Like so many other white folks drunk on white privilege, Fortgang is either unable or unwilling to see how people of color encountered challenges and difficulties at least, if not not more so, than his ancestors in the ideal-typical "hard times" white ethnic myth that he so easily recycles.

What Tal Fortgang, and so many other white victimologists and white racism deniers of all ages are unable and unwilling to accept (although they know it to be a visceral truth), is that the real power of white privilege and white supremacy is not seen among the outliers, those white folks of "good breeding" and money that would have inevitably succeeded, materially or career-wise, in life.

By comparison, the profoundly ugly and grotesque power of white supremacy and white privilege is seen in the middle part of the distribution and on its low-trailing end.

Historically, white supremacy's most socially deleterious power, and what so many white folks are desperately clinging to in the United States, is white racism's ability to elevate mediocre, failing, low-skilled, degenerate, unmotivated, and otherwise sub par white folks to the level of "respectability" and "middle class" over people of color who are in almost every way superior to them.

The successes of the civil rights movement and the Black and Brown freedom struggles have moderated (and in some ways limited) the ability of white human mediocrities to always, all things being equal, succeed in America.

Tal Fortgang will have a Princeton degree, as well as the benefits of his family's material resources, social capital, and other assets. Part of Tal Fortgang's skill set will also be the ability to use the language of "multiculturalism" and "diversity" to protect and advance white privilege. Tal Fortgang would be a much more dangerous foe if he learned to camouflage his racist speech. I am sure that his mentors are giving him that advice in the present moment.

Are black and brown Americans, progressives, liberals, and reasonable centrists, ready and prepared for ostensibly "anti-racist" 007's who are really double agents for white supremacy? I doubt it. In a moment of changing racial demographics and constrained job opportunities, young people like Tal Fortgang are America's phantom menace.

According to this report, Cliven Bundy's armed "militia" is now harassing the residents of Bunkerville, Nevada.

Democrat Congressman Stephen Horsford, who happens to be African-American, has requested that local law enforcement intervene and stop Bundy's armed hooligans from causing mayhem in and around Bunkerville, Nevada.

I offer the obvious counter-factual: what if a white Republican congressman wrote an open letter to local law enforcement demanding that they do their jobs and stop a group of black or brown insurrectionists from brandishing weapons, setting up checkpoints on public roads, and harassing white people?

Moreover, if Fox News and the Right-wing media were laid out on their collective fainting couch by two members of a group called "The New Black Panthers", they whose "crime" was having the temerity to stand outside of a polling area while holding sticks and looking "mean", what madness would ensue if Bundy and his brigands were people of color (or even white "liberals" or "progressives")?

The feeble response by the federal and state government to Cliven Bundy's welfare king revolt is both fascinating and important because it is one more example of how white skin privilege, Right-wing populist authoritarianism, conservatism, and white supremacy have helped to create a protected class of people in the United States.

Privilege consists of all those day-to-day things that a given person does not have to think about.

In the context of Cliven Bundy and the rise of the White Right in the Age of Obama, white privilege consists of the freedom for white conservative protesters and militia members to point guns at federal law enforcement agents--and to do so with the reasonable expectation that you will not be shot dead.

Moreover, if said white conservative was shot dead for brandishing a weapon and/or threatening the life of a federal law enforcement agent, white privilege almost guarantees that they will become a martyr and hero for movement conservatism.

White men like Cliven Bundy and his ilk can commit acts of domestic terrorism, shoot up schools, or openly defy the legitimacy and authority of the country's first black President (and Attorney General--this latter point is central and critical to the White Right's histrionics in the Age of Obama) and there will be no national discussion about Whiteness and White Masculinity. Why? They are just individual outliers who in the (white) popular imagination tell us nothing about "the ways of white folks".

Like Obi-Wan Kenobi's Jedi mind trick in Star Wars: A New Hope, in such instances, Whiteness tells its owners and adherents that "there is nothing to see here, move along".

Local law enforcement in the United States are heavily militarized. This had led to the abuse of citizens, murder, illegal and unlawful invasions of privacy, and excessive force in black and brown, as well as poor white communities. Consequently, the local and state police in Nevada should be able to neutralize Cliven Bundy's thugs with relative ease.

A complication.

What if Bundy's "patriots" were part of a larger movement that succeeded in taking over a town, city, or region?

Drawing on operational doctrines and Pentagon war plans, Small Wars Journal explored how the United States military would navigate the political and legal challenges of putting down a domestic revolt.

Cliven Bundy's antics, and those of the broader White Right in the Age of Obama, reveals the prescient nature of the scenario explored in "Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A Vision of the Future":

In May 2016 an extremist militia motivated by the goals of the “tea party” movement takes over the government of Darlington, South Carolina, occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council, and placing the mayor under house arrest. Activists remove the chief of police and either disarm local police and county sheriff departments or discourage them from interfering. In truth, this is hardly necessary. Many law enforcement officials already are sympathetic to the tea party’s agenda, know many of the people involved, and have made clear they will not challenge the takeover. The militia members are organized and have a relatively well thought-out plan of action.

With Darlington under their control, militia members quickly move beyond the city limits to establish “check points” – in reality, something more like choke points -- on major transportation lines. Traffic on I-95, the East Coast’s main north-south artery; I-20; and commercial and passenger rail lines are stopped and searched, allegedly for “illegal aliens.” Citizens who complain are immediately detained. Activists also collect “tolls” from drivers, ostensibly to maintain public schools and various city and county programs, but evidence suggests the money is actually going toward quickly increasing stores of heavy weapons and ammunition. They also take over the town web site and use social media sites to get their message out unrestricted.

When the leaders of the group hold a press conference to announce their goals, they invoke the Declaration of Independence and argue that the current form of the federal government is not deriving its “just powers from the consent of the governed” but is actually “destructive to these ends.” Therefore, they say, the people can alter or abolish the existing government and replace it with another that, in the words of the Declaration, “shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” While mainstream politicians and citizens react with alarm, the “tea party” insurrectionists in South Carolina enjoy a groundswell of support from other tea party groups, militias, racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, anti-immigrant associations such as the Minutemen, and other right-wing groups.

The insurrectionists will be defeated by the United States military. "Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A Vision of the Future" details the process and its aftermath:
Federal forces continue to tighten the noose as troops seize and secure power and water stations, radio and TV stations, and hospitals. The final phase of the operation, restoring order and returning properly elected officials to their offices, will be the most sensitive.

Movements must be planned and executed more carefully than the operations that established the conditions for handover. At this point military operations will be on the downturn but the need for more politically aware military advice will not. War, and the use of federal military force on U.S. soil, remains an extension of policy by other means.

Given the invocation of the Insurrection Act, the federal government must defeat the insurrection, preferably with minimum force. Insurrectionists and their sympathizers must have no doubt that an uprising against the Constitution will be defeated. Dealing with the leaders of the insurrection can be left to the proper authorities, but drawing from America history, military advice would suggest an amnesty for individual members of the militia and prosecution for leaders of the movement who broke the law. This fictional scenario leads not to conclusions but points to ponder when considering 21st century full spectrum operations in the continental United States.

The Right-wing media helped to birth Cliven Bundy and the rise of the White Right in the post civil rights era. His armed insurrectionists are part of a cabal that includes a murderer's row and rogues gallery of the most contemptible elements of the Right-wing such as the militia movement, the Koch Brothers, Fox News and its echo chamber, the Tea Party, white identity organizations, as well as Christian Dominionists and Reconstructionists.

These elements constitute a Venn diagram of civic ugliness and a collective threat to the Common Good.

Ultimately, when a white male conservative takes up arms against the federal government it is an act of "patriotism" and "courage": Cliven Bundy is the myth of the American founding and frontier channeled through a violent, aggressive type of white masculinity which wraps itself in the vestments of the Constitution, the Bible, and the American flag.

Historically, when black and brown folks have taken up arms in self-defense against state tyranny and racism their deeds are reframed by the mainstream media and the (White) popular imagination as treason, rebellion, thuggery, and a threat to "law and order".

If Cliven Bundy and his compatriots in armed insurrection were people of color (allowing for the occasional black or brown conservative token and human prop), he and they would quickly learn that Uncle Sam has little to no patience for those who openly defy his power and authority.

Prison, death, and/or the hospital bed would be their reward.

 

The shooting deaths of three people near Kansas City by the noted Neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Miller has refocused the public’s attention on the violent tendencies of the White Right in the United States.

On the Tuesday edition of her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow concluded a segment on the Republican Party’s deep denial about (and active protection of) its violent “Patriot” and militia wing by asking the following question: why do we overlook right-wing violence and refuse to call it terrorism?

The answer to Maddow's question is simple.

"We" don't talk about right-wing domestic terrorists and other extremists because “they” are largely white and male.

The language used by Rachel Maddow—and how it undermines the scurrilous Right-wing lie that there is such a thing as a “liberal media”—helps to demonstrate the above claim. Once more, a "liberal" news analyst talks around the obvious and is afraid to connect the words "white" and "male" and "conservative" in their discussions of white violence, murder, mayhem, and treason.

Domestic terrorism is an oxymoron in America when white folks are involved. Whiteness imagines itself as kind, benign, safe, neutral, normal, and good. "Terrorism" is something those "other people" do, i.e. the Muslims, or some other ambiguous cohort of black and brown people who "hate American values". Whiteness and the white racial frame are possessed by an acute sense of historical amnesia as well. The most dangerous domestic terrorist organization in the history of the United States was the Ku Klux Klan, a group that killed thousands of black Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Again, Whiteness has the ability to transform and shift empirical reality for its owners and those invested in it.

Whiteness also grants white people in America the freedom to always be a blameless individual. By implication, white people, by virtue of their racial group membership, are incapable of ill deeds as a group. White people who do bad things are just "bad individuals".

Patterns of violence by white people, most notably mass shootings by white men, apparently tell us nothing about Whiteness or white masculinity. Patterns of behavior that should be the basis of a critical inquiry about white culture (a logic that when applied to black and brown people inevitably returns to questions of "pathology" and “bad genes”), is a question that cannot be asked by the mainstream media, or in "polite" circles, as it is considered impolitic.

Because white people imagine Whiteness as normality, to even explore the relationship between race and domestic terrorism is an intolerable offense or social sin that fuels the howls of white conservative victimologists and their knee jerk claims of "reverse racism" and "bigotry" against gun loving American "patriots".

Whiteness is also a type of mass psychosis, one that is predicated on a rubric that those people now considered white (see: the Boston Massacre suspects) can have their racial identity revoked retroactively if they commit acts which are not in accordance with how White America envisions itself as viewed through its own narcissistic gaze.

Ignoring the various pathologies of Whiteness as exhibited by White domestic terrorists is just one more example of how Whiteness hurts white people through a slavish devotion to the profound lie that to be a member of the racial group arbitrarily defined as "white" is to thus be preternaturally good and harmless.

The bodies of many white children have been laid out at room temperature on the funeral slab because of that "innocent" white lie.

In 1860, "Ethiop", an African-American social critic and satirist asked “what shall we do with white people?” The murderous escapades of Frazier Glenn Miller, the growth of white militias, the violent and seditious rhetoric of the Republican Party in the Age of Obama, Birtherism and other types of deranged and paranoid political fantasies on the White Right, and mass shootings and well as other terrorist acts by white men, reinforce the need for asking that question in the present moment.

Of course, there will be no “national conversation” in the United States about “white cultural pathologies”.

How can there be when white people, by definition, are the embodiment of the universal and supreme individual, one for which accountability and questions about “bad culture” are anathema and impossible to consider?

The Yellow King still has me. Jonathan Chait's new essay on race in the Age of Obama is even more poorly reasoned and problematic than its predecessor.

Obama, Racism, and the Presumption of Innocence is a rebuttal to his critics that finds its momentum in a "reasonable" claim that "evidence" must be provided for the"terrifying" accusation that (white) conservatives are racist. Moreover, Chait would like "liberals" to be fair to conservatives by giving them the benefit of the doubt that while the latter's policies may support white supremacy said actors are not in fact racists.

The second claim is easily dismissed. Why presume fairness in the treatment of movement conservatives on matters of race when their political outreach and strategy has, for at least four decades, been predicated on the unfair treatment of people of color, and the use of white racism to mobilize white voters? While they/we may be too generous and forgiving--this is a flaw of ours--black and brown Americans are not that stupid or gullible.

The Republican Party is a white racist organization.

As I alluded to in an earlier essay, by way of metaphor, the post-civil rights era Republican Party is comprised of political arsonists on matters of race and social equality. Because of a fundamental concern for personal and public safety, when I see a white conservative with a can of gasoline, matches, and standing in front of a burning building, I will not for purposes of "fairness" assume that this is just a coincidence.

Chait's first demand that "evidence" must be presented as a means of "proving" white racism (or racist outcomes or intent) is worthy of more attention. There, like many others who excuse-make for White Supremacy as a social fact and quotidian reality, Chait is asserting the opposite of reality in order to force a conversation based on an incorrect assumption which then leads to an erroneous conclusion.

Chait shows this intellectual sleight of hand in the following passage:

A few years ago, Melissa Harris-Perry — in a column ironically accusing Joan Walsh herself of racism — argued that those accused of racism should be considered guilty until proven innocent. “I am baffled by the idea that non-racism would be the presumption and that it is racial bias which must be proved beyond reasonable doubt,” she wrote. “If anything, racial bias, not racial innocence is the better presumption when approaching American political decision-making.” Just how a person so accused could overcome the presumption of racism, Harris-Perry did not explain.

A huge proportion of these intra-left debates concern establishing the boundaries of precisely when and how one liberal can fairly accuse another of racism. When it comes to making such accusations against conservatives, do liberals have any evidentiary standards at all? Reading the liberal objections to my piece, I fail to detect any.

In his defense of the White Right and their racial innocence, Chait is demanding a type of racial habeas corpus as a guarantee that white conservatives will not be victims of the "terrifying" power of racist accusations by liberals and progressives.

On the surface, this is a sensible claim; however, many apparently sensible claims are actually masks and smokescreens for the absurd and ridiculous.

The bodies and lives destroyed by white racism and White Supremacy litter the American past and present, the imaginations and futures that will or would not be, as well as the long-past and of today's moment. Jonathan Chait only has to open his eyes to see them. His racial privilege allows him to ignore them. Others are not so deaf or tin-eared to their cries and yearning.

White Supremacy and white racial animus are dominant social forces in American and world history. White supremacy and white racial animus are not opinions.

Chait's desire for some type of extraordinary proof regarding claims that conservatives (or others) are racist is the white racial frame working through a position of white privilege to create a set of conditions that excuse-make for, and sustain, White Supremacy.

Chait defaults to a position in which claims of racism are somehow exaggerated, made up, or simply not true as applied to white conservatives, is problematic in a subtle way as well: contrary to Chait's suggestion, people of color and others who dare to tell the truth about white racism are not crazy, delusional, hysterical, hyper-emotional, or confused.

Moreover, when a person of color dares to speak about white racism they do so at great personal and professional risk. Contrary to the imagined reality dreamed up by white conservatives and their allies in which white people are "victims" of "anti-white" or "reverse racism", truth-telling about white racism comes with no small amount of risk and cost.

Melissa Harris-Perry was correct. The reasonable working assumption, given the historical power of the colorline in American society, should be that racism and White Supremacy are default variables in the inter-personal and inter-group dynamics between whites and people of color until demonstrated otherwise.

The reality of how White Supremacy works to negatively impact the life chances for non-whites in the United States is one of the most documented facts in the Social Sciences.

The United States, created as a White Republic and Apartheid state, demonstrates its White Supremacist bonafides in the Constitution, a "glorious" pro-slavery and pro-Southern document.

African-Americans have been human property and suffered under Jim and Jane Crow racial terrorism for much longer than they have been full and equal citizens.

The Right-wing's deranged response to Obama's election from both the mouth-breathing Tea Party foot soldiers, and the herrenvolk Republican elite, has been a textbook example of how white racism is a toxin in the body politic of the United States--one for which "generational replacement" will hopefully provide a much needed remedy.

Chait's Obama, Racism, and the Presumption of Innocence, as well as his previous essayThe Color of His Presidency, are useful tools.

To point. The phrase "White Supremacy" has been frequently used in the conversations inspired by Jonathan Chait's debate with Ta-Nehisi Coates about "black cultural pathology".

However, there has not been a clear move to define "White Supremacy" as a foundational concept whose meaning influences the broader debate about the nature of racism and the colorline in post civil rights America.

I would like to remedy that oversight with the following (less than exhaustive) list.

What is White Supremacy?


1. White Supremacy is a complex social phenomenon. It is also a relatively new invention, one that along with the concept of "race", largely came into being with the modern European imperial and colonial projects.

2. White Supremacy is comprised of habits, actions, and beliefs. It is not reliant on the specific intentions of its actors, practitioners, or beneficiaries. White Supremacy also has the power to reorient and reimagine empirical reality for those who have consciously and/or subconsciously internalized and learned its principals and assumptions.

3. Images of terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and Neo Nazis serve as outlier caricatures of racism in the post civil rights era. These cartoon versions of white racism do the work of White Supremacy as a social and political force because they present virulent white racism as an anachronism or the habit of somehow damaged and defective white people who should be ejected from the public square. In colorblind America, "polite" and "respectable" White Supremacy is far more dangerous to the life chances and safety of people of color than the overt racism of the Ku Klux Klan or other racially chauvinistic organizations.

4. In the most basic sense, White Supremacy is a philosophical, material, ethical, economic, scientific, religious, and political system that works to maintain the dominant and relative superior group position of those identified as "white" (and their allies) over those marked as "non-white". Other types of identities such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class simultaneously support the White Supremacist project while also complicating it.

Thus, White Supremacy is the philosophical and systemic umbrella for white racism.

5. Racism is not necessarily the same thing as White Supremacy. Racism is prejudice plus power. Without group power there can be no "racism". In American society, racism by white people is the primary means through which White Supremacy is enacted and made real.

6. White Supremacy is an evolving political project. While American society's laws and practices along the colorline have certainly changed, the relative superior group position of whites over non-whites in the West remains a relative constant.

This is one of the primary fruits of the White Supremacist project.

7. White Supremacy works on an institutional and inter-personal level. Its ultimate goal is securing more resources, power, opportunities, and privileges--material, psychological, or otherwise--for the in-group over the out-group.

White Supremacy involves, both in the present and historically, the systematic transfer of wealth, income, and other resources from non-whites to whites as a general group, and a White elite, in particular.

8. White Supremacy is a racial ideology that works to maintain class inequality. White supremacy also creates a commonsense notion that black and brown Americans are "naturally" poor and disadvantaged.

The racial logic and commonsense of White Supremacy (and a White Racist society) is sustained by not asking about first principles.

For example, what public policy decisions led to white Americans having at least 20 times the wealth of black Americans? Why are urban black and brown communities economically disadvantaged and white communities, i.e. the suburbs, have been materially advantaged by comparison?

White Supremacy as enacted through public policy made those outcomes. White Supremacy creates historical amnesia and myopia in order to prevent those first order questions from being asked or answered in (white) mainstream American public discourse.

9. Colorblind racism is the most recent iteration in a White Supremacist order where it is possible to have "racism without racists", and a black American President, while social and institutional systems still privilege whites over African-Americans and other people of color.

White racial innocence, and a sincere belief by many white folks that they do not hold racist attitudes, or benefit personally or collectively from systemic white racism, is an example of how White Supremacy has evolved to make itself relatively invisible (to willfully ignorant white people) as a dominant social force in American life.

Consequently, one of the deep tensions and challenges surrounding racial discourse in post civil rights America is how to locate a given white person's relationship to a broader system of institutional racism.

10. Austerity, neoliberalism, globalization, and the Culture of Cruelty are some of the most powerful social forces in post civil rights America. White Supremacy does not exist separate or apart from those ideologies and practices.

Chait's effort to make excuses for the racism of contemporary conservatism is mesmerizing. The mental gymnastics are great: Chait is offering up a car accident and demolition derby of intellectual work as he tries to make sense of race in the Age of Obama.

Ultimately, Jonathan Chait is providing a teachable moment about the nature of White Supremacy in a colorblind era, one that may be quite contrary to the one he had originally intended.