Thursday, April 22, 2010

White culture

In his recent article, Pat Buchanan sees the Tea Party movement as an emerging tribe. He's buying the hype of the left that these protesters are anti-black racialists. As I showed in an earlier post, almost as many Hispanics support the Tea Party as whites. Are they white nationalists too? I suspect Buchanan wants liberals to be right because tribalism generates much more political power that individualism. 

Buchanan's piece was inspired by an article written in the New Yorker titled, "Beyond the Pale: Is White the New Black?" The author, Kalefa Sanneh, reviews a couple "whiteness studies" books and concludes that whiteness is emerging as a positive identity (historically it has meant "not non-white" and the consequences have been pernicious), and it might end up being relatively benign. 

I don't see it, but I've been trying to answer a question from the article that was posed to Glenn Beck by Katie Couric: "What is white culture?" Beck had said earlier on his show that, "This President, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture."  Beck didn't give an answer, but, having some idea how he thinks, he probably meant that limited, constitutional government is a white American phenomenon, and Obama is a black liberationist.

But the question got me wondering. If Buchanan and Sanneh are right, and people like me are turning into white folks, what is my culture? Your ideas would be helpful, but you'll admit it's a tough question. It's like pinning down a cloud. 

My first stab at it would be to focus on the highest aspects of culture, and to personify them with the best culture creators. Charles Murray does this systematically in Human Accomplishment. It would not have been a gross exaggeration to title the book White Accomplishment. (This is what you're going to get from us if you turn us into white people). Anyway, the short list would include Euler, Newton, Galileo, Einstein, Lavoisier, Darwin, Aristotle, Plato, Beethoven, Mozart, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Watt, and Edison. Although some would disagree with me, I would add at least Jesus and St. Paul. (We needed to beef up the Jewish contribution to the list).

For the highest of white American culture, we could just pick the leading Americans from Murray's lists--Whitman and Edison, for example.    

Of course, these are the cultural leaders. Cultural followers come in all colors, so "white culture" like any culture is a limited concept. 

Skeptics might argue that there is very little in common between, say, Jesus and Edison; "white" is an artificial social construction. I would answer yes and no. I would answer that it is being constructed by liberals every day. "The white race is the cancer of human history" is a classic example. As Sanneh wrote, "The history of human culture is the history of forgeries that become genuine, categories that people make and cannot simply unmake."


  1. Really good post. I wish you would raise the ratio of "think pieces" to "data pieces" on the blog.

    I think Buchanan is probably aiming more at low culture than at high culture. He mentions Obama's famous "clinging" comment, for example.

    White low culture is fundamentalist Christianity, conservative Catholicism, "traditional" families, NASCAR, hockey, country music, techno, the suburbs, play dates, car culture, etc. In short, all of the things which are highly characteristic of contemporary white life (and especially middle and working class white life). You can imagine someone saying "I am a Red Wings fan" or "I am a soccer mom" but not "I am a descendant of Leonardo" or "I am a descendant of Gauss." Not coincidentally, white low culture is routinely pilloried by elite culture.

    One dictionary defines culture as "the beliefs, customs, practices, and social behavior of a particular nation or people." So, white culture is the stuff white people do and believe together which is distinct to them.

  2. Oh, I should add that I think that white in the context it is being used really means "white American." Though I guess there are parallel alleged phenomena in some European countries.

  3. Sgt. Joe Friday9:43 AM

    To what Bill said, I would add that the following also characterize what is ordinarily thought of as "American culture":

    - A relatively high level of trust and cooperation between people not related to one another

    - A "live and let live" attidtude - whtin limits

    - Striving for upward mobility, as opposed to class warfare

    - Cheeseburgers, beer, and pickup trucks - as opposed to arugula, chardonnay, and Priuses.

    - "Dirty Harry" as opposed to "Harry Smith"

    - Your own vehicle, coming and going as you please - as opposed to public transportation

    Well, anyway, you get the idea.

  4. For an idea of what set the social sciences back a century, leaving us gibbering inanities at each other about race, view Minority Rule: The Rise of Political Correctness.

    While viewing it, keep in mind that this is video footage 2/3 of the way toward release as a DVD. The producer, Bryon Jost, became just one more heroin overdose in Cambodia before completing it.

  5. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Jim Bowery,

    Interesting link on the rise of Political Correctness, The Frankfurt School, and the Authoritarian Personality, and Freudianism. I watched all six episodes. YouTube (and DailyMotion, and Vimeo) have been pleasant suprises of history especially where non-mainstream sources can at least make their presentations.

    My take on whites is this: We came from Europe, Central Asia, and Russia for the last umpteen thousands of years to where we are now. We invented just about everything modern (transportation, electricity, light, indoor climate control, sanitation, space travel, air travel, computers, communictions, television, radio, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera), and even though we might have stubbed our toes a few times (colonialism, slavery), our record is by far more positive than negative and we have missionarily spread moderninity to the rest of the world. The concept of personal rights, democracy, and democratic republics were more or less our civic innovations also.

    Lets stop allowing others to teach our youth to hate itself. Our youth should be taught about our collective glorious past from neo-lithic Europe through classical antiquity, the medieval period, through the Rennaissaince, through the industrial revolution and colonial periods up till now. They should be taught that they are not bad people no matter how much their professors insinuate that they are, and to like -each other- and to not attempt to convey higher status over each other by favoring every other group except themselves over their own group. I wish some group cold coalesce around Rennaissaince-fair-type expositions, that could expand to other parts of European-history and identity so that conservative and liberal white kids could have the notion cemented in their minds that they aren't alien species from one another, but descendants of the same people who had to endure some very cold, rainy, shady conditions to build civilizations over the past millenia, and were not always "the colonialist oppressors" of dark people who "stole the wealth" of peoples all over the world to aggrandize themselves (what they are taught now).

    Other movements can grow out of an initial movement that would be more politically oriented, but just getting whites together in a group and letting them know that its OK for whites to peaceably assemble and speak of their shared history is not illegal or a bad thing would be a start.

    One way or another, we have to find a way to thwart the (coming) "racial communism" by disparate impact lawsuit that the political left has prepared for us. Its not hard to see how the left will use statistics to keep lessening life-chances for whites. If race A or B is incarcerated more than whites, the left presents this as evidence of white discrimination. If race A or B makes less money than whites, this is presented as evidence for white discrimination. Good behavior and studiousness of whites is never even mentioned and to even do so what be assailed as racist. This statistical logic is never applied to Asians, Indians, or Jews, only ordinary whites of Euro-Russian descent. Its wrong, and is unfair in the deepest sense of the word. If whites eventually become a statistical minority in this nation, yet still are handicapped by quotas in college admissions, sholarships, minority contracting, and preferential hiring, their lives are going to be exceedingly difficult. I think this is profoundly unfair to the descendants of the founders.

    *** One more thing I think the left has in store for whites is outright pressure (by the left's innovative new tactic of calling whites racist---sarcasm) to date interracially. The Rhode Island dormitory scandal revealed that students there were asked if they would consider dating interracially. This was only directed at white students, nobody else.

  6. If we mean white culture for all whites, your list should certainly include Adam Smith for economics.
    For electromagnetism, Maxwell. For quantum mechanics, certainly Heisenberg. For nuclear physics, Rutherford. For astronomy, Hubble. For biology, Francis Crick. For geology Lyell or, somewhat controversially, Wegener.

    For politics ... someone. I'd suggest George Washington as he declined to be king.

  7. Anonymous10:47 AM

    In his recent article, Pat Buchanan sees the Tea Party movement as an emerging tribe. He's buying the hype of the left that these protesters are anti-black racialists.

    If enough people believe something to be so, then it ends up becoming so.

    But in the long run the white minority of Americas future WILL think of itself as a tribe, and a put upon tribe at that. No amount of liberal indoctrination in school will be able to alter that.

  8. "Cheeseburgers, beer, and pickup trucks - as opposed to arugula, chardonnay, and Priuses."

    Hmmm...what's the 'W' in SWPL stand for again?

    The problem is that you have to add a class descriptor--white working class culture is very different from white upper middle class culture.

    Despite the best efforts of the multiculti crowd, 'white' still sort of means 'average' and 'default'.


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