June 24, 2003

Yeah, I'm White. Sue Me.

Read this article, then join me in expressing my non-surprise at the fact that academia can always be counted upon to make the stupid even worse.

This past semester I attended a seminar on the "invisible knapsack of white privilege," in which the unfortunate impression I left with was that the speaker desperately wanted to curry favor via self-flagellation. These courses are from that same mold. While I agree that it's a topic that can and should be broached, the approach leaves me cold.

Here's the ostensible goal of the course:

Winant said whiteness studies advocates must be careful not to paint white heritage with a broad brush, or stray from the historical record. Generalizations, he said, will only demonize whiteness.

So what do you get? Books like "Theodore Allen's "The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control," which argues, in part, that the collection of European immigrants into a white race was a political act to control the country."

Hey, here's a radical thought. Maybe everything isn't a political act or a conspiracy. Maybe people, when left to their own devices, kind of suck. Maybe they form groups based upon shallow attributes like looks, maybe they pick on and exploit the weaker groups, and maybe all of this has been going on longer than than the 160-odd years theorized in this article.

And if that's the case, then maybe the way to address it ISN'T to perpetuate the groupthink by separating students into courses of study based on their genitalia, color, or who they like to bump uglies with. Maybe we should spend time studying the actual historical record, and have a little faith that free thinking individuals, when presented with facts, are capable of pointing out past injustices and working to right them.

Yeah, I know. Crazy talk.

Thanks to Jim for the article.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at June 24, 2003 11:45 AM

I agree with you, and I'll go a bit further than Horowitz by asking what non-whites were doing in the class: whites are heavily discouraged (if not simply refused) in black studies, ditto for males in women's studies, and of course white males are castigated for not understanding what is discussed in these courses...

It is something that bears examination, this "white culture" - actually, collection of cultures - but I certainly there is going to be some examination of how the conscious and unconscious privileges arose, why, how things have been changing, etc. Heck, Queen Victoria couldn't vote and now we have Rep. Boxer (Idiot, Barking-Madly). And used to have C. McKinnon...

Posted by: John Anderson at June 26, 2003 12:49 AM

Er, "I certainly hope there..."

Posted by: John Anderson at June 26, 2003 12:51 AM