Short Views

A Question of Identity

Most people have multiple identities, and contemporary America is tolerant of almost all of them, including men who think they are women and women who think they are men.  There is one notable exception, though, to this general tolerance: people who attach any importance to the fact that they are white.  The left, of course, denounces anyone who is not ashamed of being white, and spends considerable energy asserting that anyone who is white should be considered “racist” for that reason alone.  That is the point of the antiwhite “whiteness studies” that have mushroomed in the academy and all the talk of “white privilege.”  Susan Sontag’s view that “the white race is the cancer of human history” has become a central tenet of the contemporary left.  Some on the right, on the other hand, dismiss the notion that there is a white race, or that whites should care about it, as an abstraction and a distraction.  But Merle Haggard sang of his pride in being both “an Okie from Muskogee” and in being “white,” and he was right to do so, because there was no conflict between those two identities, nor any reason to take less pride in one than in the other.

In the Old World, of course, Europeans seldom thought of themselves as “white.”  They thought of themselves as Englishmen and Frenchmen and the like.  But it was different...

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