The Privilege No One Wants
The power of “white privilege,” we are told, is all but unlimited. It underlies all our institutions. It is responsible for all non-white shortcomings. Its evil infects every white person and brings them wealth and power. To be white is to be one of the lords of creation, filled with what certified MacArthur Genius Ta-Nehisi Coates calls the “eldritch energies” dwelling within the “glowing amulet” of whiteness.
Yet even those non-white Americans who could claim the sacred status of whiteness—for example, Arabs classified as “white” by the Census Bureau—resist its power, not out of principle, but because they know the truth: In modern America, “whiteness” is a mark of Cain, not a key to status. And political power comes from shedding the imagined privileges of whiteness, and securing the actual privileges of non-whiteness.
For that reason, what are now called “Americans of Middle Eastern and North Africa descent (MENA)” are clamoring for a new category on the 2020 census so they will no longer be called white. Dr. Germine Awad, a college professor who profits from the multicultural racket, claims her co-ethnics need a separate category to symbolize “their marginalization and lack of recognition in the United States.” Without their own classification, “Americans of Arab and Middle Eastern origins are not accounted for when it comes to social services,” and are “left out in analyses assessing the educational, health and economic needs of minority groups.” A MENA designation is thus a way for Arabs and others to trade on their identity, claim inequality, and get more government benefits.
Similarly, Laura Zebib of Columbia University, in a column called “Stop Calling Me White. I Am Arab,” demands a MENA class because “being labeled ‘white’ causes us to be underrepresented in advocacy efforts for minorities and to have a less cohesive lobbying voice.” This argument is not only an implicit acknowledgement that whites cannot lobby for their own interests, but also confirms that the purpose of a MENA category would be to get public benefits and “affirmative action.” Miss Zebib adds that her parents’ attempt to “conform to American culture” prevented her from being “a voice of diversity within my small conservative town and curb[ing] the discriminatory practices we now see coming to light.”
During the Obama Administration, the Census Bureau began planning to implement the MENA category and held meetings to discuss which groups to include. As might be expected, much of the discussion focused on how non-Arabs could be plausibly included, since everyone wants the rewards of being counted among the “oppressed.”
Could this even apply to Israeli immigrants? Indeed, the Census Bureau’s working group on the matter had “several participants” who urged all groups affiliated with the Arab League plus “Iran, Israel, and Turkey” be included.
Oren Heiman, founding chair of an Israeli American group, and Yinon Cohen, a professor of Israeli and Jewish Studies and chair of the Columbia University Sociology Department, were in the working group. They and others occasionally noted that many Israelis call themselves white, and that some might also consider Turks white, since Turkey has tried to join the European Union. However, if being classed as non-white would qualify Turks or Israelis for official privileges, they would have far less incentive to identify as white.
As Mr. Heiman noted:
[Typos in transcript] This is real work that will I see 30 years from now Linda and I calling us a MENA Palestinian and MENA Israeli. This can really change how people define themselves as human beings and I’m very very impressed.
If a MENA category would convince Israelis to stop calling themselves white and claim to be “MENA Israeli,” set-asides or affirmative action programs would apply to them, too. Thus, one effect of a MENA category might be the spectacle of Jewish-Americans—or at least Israeli-Americans—claiming affirmative action as an oppressed group.
The “Linda” Mr. Heiman referred to was none other than Arab-American Linda Sarsour, who has become infamous since President Trump’s inauguration. Now best known as a left-wing protest leader, Mrs. Sarsour was a co-chair of the 2017 “Women’s March” and has spoken at many left-wing gatherings—though she occasionally embarrasses her hosts by complaining about the “Jewish media.” She has also, perhaps inadvertently, explained why she and so many others are pushing for MENA: “When I wasn’t wearing a hijab I was just some ordinary white girl from New York City.”
If MENA is established, it could presumably include members of many different races. Such a precedent has already been set with the “Hispanic” category. Ironically, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which was founded in 1929, had as one of its primary aims the categorization of Mexicans in the United States as “whites.” However, as it became more profitable to identify as non-white, priorities shifted. The “Hispanic” category that first appeared on the 1980 Census was therefore, in part, a result of ethnic lobbying. Groups such as the National Council of La Raza encouraged Spanish-speakers to identify as Hispanic because it would allow more effective appeals to both corporations and the government.
As Cristina Mora, author of “Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats, and Media Created a New American,” put in an interview with NPR:
They could go up to the Department of Education, for example, and say, ‘Latinos are the second-largest minority group. And yet, our educational attainment pales to that of whites. Send money to our schools.’
Of course, the census identifies anyone as “Hispanic” who claims to be Hispanic. At the same time, according to legislation from 1976, “Hispanic” applies only to “Americans who identify themselves as being of Spanish-speaking background and trace their origin and or descent from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America and other Spanish-speaking countries.” Thus, an entirely European man from Argentina could claim to be Hispanic and claim official privileges, but a man of mixed indigenous and European descent from Brazil would be “white,” because Brazil is not Spanish speaking.
Not surprisingly, once such a category is established, it creates a powerful barrier against assimilation. Those who claim non-white identity, not coincidentally, are also are far less likely to consider the United States their “real” country. According to a Pew Hispanic poll in 2004, Cubans are far more likely (86 percent) to characterize themselves as “white” than other Hispanics. More than half of Cubans in the United States also regard America as their “real” homeland, compared to about a third of Mexicans, Central and South Americans and Puerto Ricans—even though the latter are all U.S. citizens. Cubans may be changing, as younger Cubans who have no experience of fleeing from Fidel Castro are increasingly embracing a pan-Hispanic (and politically leftist) identity, rather than the white Republican identity of their elders.
Not surprisingly, other groups are also trying to carve out their own ethnic fiefdoms in the census. Kathy Ko Chin, president of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, is campaigning for data disaggregation when it comes to counting “Asians.” She thinks this is important because data disaggregation is “essential to unmasking the ‘model minority myth.’ ” Because Asians are generally successful, it is necessary to disaggregate the data to show that some Asians (such as the Hmong) are disproportionately poor.
The logic of leftist identity politics demands that a minority group show it is performing poorly in a host society, thus justifying more redistribution of resources from the host population. At the same time, Miss Ko Chin wants to keep the “separate categories for Asians, and for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (dropping the ‘Other’),” so as to maximize the group’s political clout.
Naturally, the ever-diminishing number of European-Americans are left out of this redistributionist scheme of racial socialism. When he was on Nixon’s staff, Pat Buchanan tried to give at least some whites—“ethnic Catholics”—preferential hiring for political purposes. In a memo to John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, and Charles Colson on September 23, 1971, Mr. Buchanan advocated hiring “ethnic Catholics, preferably women, for visible posts.” He also suggested recruiting the first Italian-American Supreme Court Justice (who eventually appeared as Antonin Scalia under Ronald Reagan). Still, that was hardly a comprehensive scheme comparable to affirmative action.
Mr. Buchanan went farther in 1998, when he explicitly argued that if affirmative action was to go on forever, there should be proportional representation for gentile whites.
Perhaps ethnic Catholics and Christians can stop resisting proportional representation—and demand their fair share of the slots at Harvard, etc., based on their share of the U.S. population. How can Harvard say no to the Irish if it says yes to Hispanics?
If Harvard balks, denounce it as bigoted and demand a cut-off of federal funds. If proportional representation is the name of the game, Christian and European-Americans should get into the game, and demand their fair share of every pie: 75 percent, and no less.
Such a set-aside is unlikely, since there is no coordinated European-American political action.
Many Americans take advantage of “affirmative action” by identifying as non-white. Mixed-race figures (such as former president Barack Obama) and even mostly-white people already identify as non-white because of the political and social advantages. Some who are entirely white try to get away with the same thing. Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren’s claim to be Cherokee based on questionable evidence is an example. Some, such as the notorious Rachel Dolezal, may simply craft a black identity out of whole cloth and claim to be “transracial.” Until she was caught, Miss Dolezal’s career flourished as a result of her black identity.
Miss Dolezal may have been too ambitious. Blacks are jealous of their identity. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed white man who speaks Spanish could easily claim “Hispanic” ancestry, however, and claim benefits. Not all Hispanics even speak Spanish (such as those who speak indigenous languages or those raised in America who speak only English), so what’s to stop every white person from claiming to be Hispanic? It doesn’t matter what you look like or what your name is. Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, might pass for white but was chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. If MENA becomes a valid census category, one could even imagine whites claiming to be coverts to Islam (or if Israelis are included, Judaism) to get benefits.
There’s even a racial status competition among non-white groups. Vijay Chokal-Ingam, an Indian-American, shaved his head and pretended to black in order to get accepted to medical school. It worked. To his credit, Mr. Chokal-Ingam then dropped out, and later applied as an Indian-American to a business school that doesn’t practice affirmative action. Who knows how many others have faked an identity to boost their career?
The emergence of a homosexual “identity” may even be partially explained as a tactic for whites to avoid the negative consequences of being labeled “white.” Today, homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders and other more exotic labels are used not just to describe those who practice certain sexual behaviors, but to designate people entitled to benefits, set-asides, privileges, and official protections. There has already been affirmative action for homosexuals at at least one school. Does such a policy require official verification? If so, how?
It’s tempting to say such an irrational system will eventually crumble under its sheer absurdity, or as the number of the “oppressed” swells far beyond the number of “oppressor” whites. Yet anti-white racial preferences continue in South Africa even to this day, and there are continuous calls for more to be done to remedy inequality. When South Africa runs out of whites it may start discriminating against “privileged” South Africans of Indian origin.
Ultimately, if all economic activity in the West is not to be crippled by racial rent-seeking, whites must organize as a group and stop anti-white racial preferences entirely. Yet this is difficult, since whites think they can succeed as individuals, regardless of what official obstacles they face. And it is the genius and curse of our people that we so often can; our individual virtue perpetuates our collective dispossession.
If there is dark magic in “whiteness,” as Mr. Coates would have us think, it’s the ability of European-Americans to remain blind to their own subjugation. Arabs, mixed-race people, white Hispanics and others who could “pass” would be doing whatever they could to get white privilege if it were real. Instead, the lobbying by Arabs and others to ensure they are not labeled “white” shows how hollow their belief in “white privilege” really is.
The whole hypocritical spectacle reveals a sad truth. As Sam Francis observed many years ago, egalitarianism isn’t a principled stand, but a political weapon. And those who bleat loudest about equality tend to be the most status conscious strivers of all.