Salon, January 25, 2019
There are rules of race and the color line in post-civil rights American and the age of Donald Trump. Learn them. These rules were almost instantly deployed in defense of the dozens of white MAGA hat-wearing teenagers from Covington Catholic High School who, in a widely viewed video, harassed and mocked a Native American elder last Friday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
These rules include the following.
The mere accusation of racism against a white person is worse than the impact of racism on the safety, security, lives and literal existence of nonwhites.
White people are the "real" "victims" of "racism" in America. Donald Trump, with the help of Vladimir Putin and Russia, rode this lie to the White House.
White people are somehow "oppressed" by nonwhites, "political correctness", and "civil rights."
Whiteness is benign. White people, regardless of the evidence of their bad behavior or ill intent, are always entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
White racial innocence and white racial fragility must always be honored. As such, no amount of evidence is sufficient to prove conclusively that racism exists and that a given individual or group of white people have acted in the service of racial animus and racial inequality.
When white people are accused of racist behavior, they are allowed to decide what evidence is acceptable, credible and true.
Intentions, feelings, and the unanswerable question "What is in their heart?" trumps all empirical evidence and facts about the consequences of racist behavior and the context in which it occurred.
Stand your ground. In his interview with NBC's "Today" on Tuesday, Nick Sandmann -- the Covington teen seen face to face with Nathan Phillips in that widely-viewed video -- used that language: "As far as standing there, I had every right to do so." His words were in all likelihood very carefully chosen by the public relations firm hired by his parents -- a PR firm with right-wing connections.
In America only white people are allowed to "stand their ground." It is expected that nonwhites, especially black people, will always be deferential and submissive to white people. This is true of black people walking down the street and being stalked by white street vigilantes, black people living their daily lives and being harassed by white people who have decided that they get to police public spaces, and black people who are harassed and threatened by out of control law enforcement agents.
"Personal responsibility" does not apply to white conservatives. Contra Martin Luther King Jr., the long arc of history does not necessarily bend towards justice. In the age of Trump it is stuck on white victimology. For example: the white teen MAGA mob is somehow held to be not responsible for their foul behavior toward Native American elder Nathan Phillips because a small group of "Black Israelites" (essentially racial chauvinist black Power Ranger cosplay clowns) said mean things to them.
This is the very definition of racism and white supremacy: the white teenage mob decided that black and Native American people are somehow interchangeable; anger at the Black Israelites can then be reasonably transferred to Nathan Phillips; racist taunts and harassment against Nathan Phillips are therefore justified. ...
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