We have all seen the extent of blatant racism in this country since Barack Obama ran for president in 2008. We have seen this racism explode in full force before our eyes, sometimes blindingly, with pictures of watermelon patches around the White House accompanied by disingenuous excuses such as not understanding the relationship between watermelons and racism; or heard “Barack the Magic Negro” explained as brilliant satire and completely harmless…
“Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper
Said he makes guilty whites feel good
They’ll vote for him, and not for me
‘Cause he’s not from the hood.
and President Obama himself labeled as a Kenyan, un-American, a Muslim who “isn’t like us”…
But it’s perfectly okay for white people to vote for white candidates, isn’t it? In fact, the logic seems to be that black folks should vote for white candidates. That’s the alternative for voting for a black one isn’t it? Or should they strive to find the odd man or woman out, a Asian or a Pacific Islander, or get really extreme and vote for a Native American?
No racism there. Just a lot of stupidity.
In fact, in the new paradigm, white folks are the oppressed minority. And this oppression is not simply one limited to a nasty old black president taking away white folks’ guns “and giving them to his bruthas in the hood” to cloak the NRA message in Limbaugh’s language.
No, seriously: we are told that this is an across the board, bull-blown persecution of white folks, especially white Christians – what the Tea Party likes to call “real Americans.”
We have seen this coming for some time with the loss of the old privileged status Anglo-Saxon Protestants have enjoyed since the Colonial Era. The ethnic and religious landscape of this country has changed drastically over the centuries, and never more so than over the past few decades. Now these WASPS a threatened not only by the loss of religious superiority but by loss of numerical superiority.
It’s interesting when reality itself can be perceived as persecution. Stephen Colbert was never more right than when he said that “reality has a liberal bias.”
You’d think it was a plot. And it is for some people. You’ve heard certainly of Barack Obama’s plot to bring a hundred million Muslims to this country? We all know of course that Barack Obama is not one of us. He’s a Kenyan anti-colonialist Muslim who hates Great Britain, along with mom, apple pie, and the flag. But that’s not all. His dark designs go much deeper: the secret Jihadist in the White House plans to overwhelm good god-fearing WASPS with Muslims.
But it’s not just the threat of Islam that has these crazy white folks acting like idiots. A recent article on CNN asks, “Are whites racially oppressed?”
That even such a question can be asked should tell you a lot. According to CNN, this is what they see:
• A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll found 44% of Americans surveyed identify discrimination against whites as being just as big as bigotry aimed at blacks and other minorities. The poll found 61% of those identifying with the Tea Party held that view, as did 56% of Republicans and 57% of white evangelicals.
• More colleges are offering courses in “Whiteness Studies” as white Americans cope with becoming what one commentator calls a “dispossessed majority group.”
• A Texas group recently formed the “Former Majority Association for Equality” to offer college scholarships to needy white men. Colby Bohannan, the group’s president, says white men don’t have scholarship options available to minorities. “White males are definitely not a majority” anymore, he says.
• U.S. Census Bureau projections that whites will become a minority by 2050 are fueling fears that whiteness no longer represents the norm. This fear has been compounded by the recent recession, which hit whites hard.
• Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh argued in a radio show that Republicans are an “oppressed minority” in need of a “civil rights movement” because its members willingly sit in the “back of the bus” and “are afraid of the fire hoses and the dogs.”
• Fox talk-show host Glenn Beck led a march on Washington (attended primarily by white people) to “restore honor,” and once called President Obama a racist with a “deep-seated hatred for white people and white culture.” He later said he regretted making that comment.
• Conservative news outlets ran a number of stories last summer highlighting an incident from the 2008 elections, in which activists from the New Black Panther Party appeared to be intimidating voters at a polling place. Those claims were never proven.
Tim Waite, author of White Like Me argues that “the recession hit blue-collar, white Americans hard, financially and psychologically.” This is true. It did. But Wise says the problem is that those jobs are now being given to “those people” – black and brown.
There is a problem with Waite’s thesis, facts at play other than racism (and I don’t mean racism against white folks like Waite but Waite’s own blatant racism:
The recession did in fact hit working class whites hard, but Waite doesn’t mention this: his rich white masters are the ones transferring production jobs overseas, turning the US economy from a product oriented to a service oriented economy. It’s not a conspiracy to deprive whites of their livelihood or their status. The men people like Waite think are looking out for them are the ones screwing them.
The Koch Brothers laid people off while increasing their profits (here and here, for example). They didn’t trickle down. And the Koch Brothers are not alone. These rich white men aren’t interested in helping anyone but themselves, a fact the Tea Party has blinded itself to. Perhaps the situation in Wisconsin will wake some of them up. After all, the people Tea Party governor Scott Walker was supposed to be helping are the people he is screwing on behalf of the Koch Brothers. But I wouldn’t go so far as to see the recent reduction in Tea Party fervor as a sign anybody on the extreme right has gotten any smarter.
A thing to keep in mind is that women have done better in the recession than men. Perhaps Waite should be unhappy at women too. They have benefited from this shift from product to service orientation. Also, ironically, because women are paid less than men for doing the same job, they are cheaper to keep on the payroll…another unlooked for symptom of the prejudices of the rich white men who still run things (according to a 2000 Employment and Earnings survey conducted by the United States Bureau of the Census, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s were only about $.72 on the dollar).
Men have the misfortune of being concentrated in the industries hit hardest by recession, such as construction and manufacturing, where women tend to be concentrated in the secotrs that are still growing, such as education and health care (at least until the Koch Brothers are done destroying America’s educational system).
There is also evidence that women are willing to take jobs that men are not, that men want to stay in the field they’ve been trained in while women are willing to settle for getting a paycheck.
And the government everyone in the Tea Party rails against? The 2010 elections may have settled them down a bit since they now control a chunk of it, but before and after it is not a government of minorities trampling on the rights of the long-privileged WASPs. Let’s take a look at our government to see where the balance of power lies:
1 – Barack Obama, our first black president EVER. And look at the racism his election has brought into the open. It’s such an impossibility a black man could be president that only a coup could have put him there, and he’s not even American, or *gasp* Christian! He’s a secret Muslim! And he is out to destroy America in any way he can. You can’t get more privileged than claiming the office of the President is reserved for white Christian men, and that seems to be the message here.
535 – total members
100 – Senators
435 – Representatives
Let’s take a look at the composition of Congress (110th Congress):
Blacks: (42 in House: 42 Democrats; 1 Democrat in Senate)
Only 9.5% of the House is African American. African Americans make up approximately 13% of the US population so it should be fairly obvious to all but the ideologically obtuse that it is blacks who are underrepresented in our government, not whites. The only reason there was even one black senator in 2009 was that Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed him. He was replaced by a white man in 2010. In fact, only six African Americans have served in the U.S. Senate.
Hispanics: (24 in House: 4 Republicans, 20 Democrats; 3 in Senate: 2 Democrat, 1 Republican)
Hispanics account for about 14% of the US population but the Senate is only 3% Hispanic and the House only 5%
Asians and Pacific Islanders: (5 in House: 4 Democrats, 1 Republican ; 2 in Senate: 2 Democrats)
Asian American and Pacific Islanders comprise about 4.4% of the American population and account for only 2% of Congress.
(figures for 110th Congress) http://www.infoplease.com/us/government/women-minorities-110th-congress.html
As should be readily apparent, Congress is filled primarily by whites. Women are also by no means a majority:
Women: (73 in House: 20 Republicans, 53 Democrats; 16 in Senate: 5 Republicans, 11 Democrats)
As of the 110th Congress, good old White Anglo-Saxon vested interest was still in good hands. The situation hasn’t changed much now that the 112th Congress has been seated.
Look at the religion of members of the 112th Congress; by far and away most of them are Christians of one kind or another, the majority of them Protestants:
Other Christian: 0.6%
Other Faiths: 0.6%
If you look at the 112th Congress, things haven’t improved any for minorities. Just take a look at the photo below and tell me what you see: mostly white men. The numbers prove it.
Here is the new composition of Congress in 2011:
- 78 women in the House; 25 Republican, 53 Democrat (+5 from 110th Congress)
- 18 women senators; 5 Republican, 13 Democrat (+2 from 110th Congress)
- 44 African Americans in the House; 2 Republican, 42 Democrat (+2 from 110th Congress)
- 0 African American Senators (-1 from 110th Congress)
All of the new members of Congress are Christian or Jew. The religious composition of the 112th Congress isn’t much changed from the 110th. Here are the numbers again from 2009 with the 2011 changes added):
Protestant: 54.7% (51.3% in 2011)
Catholic: 30.1% (23.9% in 2011)
Jewish: 8.4% (7.3% in 2011)
Mormon: 2.6% (2.8% in 2011)
Orthodox: 1.3% (0.9% in 2011)
Unknown: 0.9% (1.1% in 2011)
Other Christian: 0.6% (0.6% in 2011)
Other Faiths: 0.6% (0.4% in 2011)
Muslim: 0.4% (0.4% in 2011)
Buddhist: 0.4% (0.6% in 2011)
Again, it is non-Christians who are under-represented. Most of the members of Congress are white, most of them are male, and most of them are Protestants. For a government supposedly run by Jihadists there are surprisingly few Muslims. There aren’t any Pagans (including Heathens like me) and there are precious few atheists (just like there were precious few Communists for McCarthy to find in the 50s). No, all the problems, if problems there are, seem to be caused by white male Christians – a fact unchanged from previous Congresses all the way back to the nation’s founding.
It doesn’t look from these numbers as though white (or WASP) privilege is going to crumble any time soon. The business world is no different.
Most of the Forbes 400 are Jews or Christians and white. It isn’t wealthy black men who are bankrolling the tea party, nor rich Hispanics or Asians or Pacific Islanders. The only black on the 2009 Forbes list was Oprah Winfrey. Most Fortune 500 companies are run by rich white men. The big CEOs on Wall Street who pay themselves tens of millions while the economy tanks – yes, they are predominantly rich white men too.
Perhaps it is no surprise she is denounced by the white fundamentalists as some sort of heretic. We can’t be having influential black women with the money to give clout to their influence, after all.
Talk about a threat to the Old Order.
No, white vested interests are well-looked after, as are specifically WASP interests. The Koch Brothers and others are making sure of that.
Coy, Peter, et al. “The Slump: It’s a Guy Thing.” Business Week (2008): 28-29
Frasier, Edie, “Women and Minorities in Business.” Vital Speeches of the Day 68.10 (2002): 312-316
Hagenbaugh, Barbara. “Women fare better in recession than men.” USA Today (n.d.)