In the calculus of blame, whites are the new Jews.
Racebaiting superstar Ibram X. Kendi remarked on a panel recently that white people—globally—have failed to “reckon with how much their own personal identity is shaped by constructions of whiteness.” He went on to explain how “that construction of whiteness prevents white people from connecting to humanity.”
White people, he took pains to explain—not “whiteness,” but white people individually—see themselves as “over humanity” and not as “part and parcel of humanity.” They are unable to “connect to people who don’t look like [them]” or to relate humanistically to people with darker skin. “It’s whiteness that prevents that.” This creates “not just societal problems, but personal problems” that his latest film will “liberate” white people from.
Kendi’s diatribe—delivered in soothing tones of social-worker helpfulness—is an intellectual step down from the usual low level of this kind of analysis, which typically pretends to offer broad sociological insights about “whiteness” and avoid attacking the characters of white people generally. But with the pushback against critical race theory and its instantiation in the form of DEI imperatives across human resources departments everywhere, Kendi may feel that it’s time to up the stakes in his long game, which was never about abstractions, but always about turning the tables on who counts as fully human. It’s only a short step from accusing people of thinking they are better to assert that they are actually worse.
As I have suggested before, the discourse about “whiteness” comes in whole-cloth from the rhetoric of classical antisemitism. Ever wonder why Kendi-style racial debate sounds so familiar? You just have to substitute “white” for “Jew” and it all falls into place.
Just as Kendi engages in concern-trolling by claiming to desire the “liberation” of white people from the burden of whiteness, antisemites throughout history have urged the Jews to unshackle themselves from their chilly, alpine otherness—or if you prefer, crawl out of their cruddy mercantile sewer—and step down into the sunny valley of common humanity. Marx put it best in “On the Jewish Question.”
For us, the question of the Jew’s capacity for emancipation becomes the question: What particular social element has to be overcome in order to abolish Judaism?…. Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.
An organization of society which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the Jew impossible…. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.
The Jew, in liberating himself from Jewishness, would simultaneously unchain the world from Judaism, just as whites, by unshouldering their yoke and stepping into the herd, would liberate the world from whiteness.
This sense of interconnected total liberation is the distillation of the Left’s millennialism and explains why we see banners reading such discordant statements as “Reproductive Justice Means Free Palestine” at marches against Israel’s Gaza actions. The premise of Leftist action is to revolt against all structures of oppression. Therefore, there is no compartmentalization of protest, though there is a hierarchy of evil. It used to be the case that class war was the only war, but now whiteness is the prime mover of division and exploitation.
Antisemitism still exists, of course, but it is the sharp and narrow end of the anti-whiteness spear. The realignment of Leftist animosity has brought all struggle under the banner of anti-whiteness, or as Ibram X. Kendi would probably put it offstage, “Get Whitey.” As nonwhites have gained a strong foothold in elitist circles of global power, Jews have been subsumed as white. And in the calculus of “whose ox gets gored,” or “Who? Whom?” in Lenin’s terms, whites now occupy the classical position of the Jew.
Just as Jews used to exercise spectral dominance of society through their malign influence—in the Medieval, astrological sense of “the flowing of ethereal fluid”—so do white people infuse culture and discourse with whiteness, which has the power through implicit bias to make people act against the proper interests. Whiteness is pollution. Whiteness is illness. Whiteness prevents human happiness. Whiteness must be dismantled in every corner and rooted out from the minds of whites and nonwhites alike.
First, the Jews became white, and then the whites became Jews. The attack on “whiteness” has emerged as what it always really was, an attack on white people as individuals. History offers a guide to what comes next.
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