The Source Of The Problem

The Source Of The Problem

There isn’t a single problem facing the United States today that wasn’t caused by white people acting selfishly at the expense of others.

Not.
A.
Single.
One.

Period.
Full stop.

This is an indisputable fact.

Even problems that are seemingly confined to one particular minority or another have their roots in systematic unfair and unjust treatment of those minorities.

Every misery, every friction point, every conflict can be traced by directly to white people acting selfishly.

Let me head the poindexters off at the pass:
There is a world of difference -- a vast universe of difference! -- between acting in self-interest and acting selfishly.

Self-interest reminds you that wheels turn, that those who are first can later be last, that payback’s a bear, and as such will tell you to treat others the way you would want to be treated by them in turn.

Y’know, don’t steal their land and resources, don’t enslave them and steal their labor under threat of torture and death, don’t block them from enjoying the same rights you enjoy, etc., etc., and of course, etc.

Selfish tells you, “Go ahead!  Do it! Take it!  They can’t stop you!  Ignore them!”

Every single problem we face today comes from white people in the past embracing that attitude.

It’s not really a race thing, it’s a class thing.

But one of the lies we tell ourselves in the United States of America is that we are a classless society and one of the ways we sugarcoat that lie is to hide it in the toxic mantle of race.

And by doing so, we never need face the ravages of class on our country.

When all minorities are condemned to lower class status simply because of their ethnicity, the dominant majority resists acknowledging their own class status, taking comfort in their majority status as proof they are of a higher social class.

For a long time “white” in this country meant specifically White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, the proverbial WASPs.

“WASP” didn’t become a common designation until the middle of the 20thcentury, and faded by the 1980s, but it serves an interesting lesson.

The people who settled the colonies and Native American territories that eventually became the nascent United States were primarily British; i.e., Anglo-Saxons.

And though there were Scots and Irish and Welsh settlers, and some Dutch and French traders and merchants who stayed on and were absorbed by English colonial consolidation, it was primarily the British and their descendants who managed things.

Sidebar:
To be British is to be an English speaker of a combined Celt, Dane, Germanic, Norman, and Roman ancestry who lives or is descended from someone who lived in that part of the United Kingdom; it is an amalgam ethnic group (as are most, when you trace them back far enough). 

This precise heritage gave British settlers in colonial America enough basis to exclude others from the “white” category.

Not just other Europeans, but also Native Americans and Africans and any of their descendants no matter how many other British ancestors they had.

This was not a distinction other ethnic groups made; the ancient Romans, for example, or the French (viz Alexandre Dumas’ famous riposte:  “My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey.  You see, sir, my family starts where yours ends.”).

But it was one that proved crucial to Americans of all stripes.

British emigrants to North America fell into two broad categories:  Adventurers and exiles.

While the adventurers could and did come from all sorts of backgrounds, a large number of them were impoverished upper class or nobility who sought to regain those fortunes by exploiting anything and everything there was to exploit in North America, typically in the forms of cash crops such as cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, and whiskey derived from corn.

To grow those crops and harvest their wealth, these landed gentry sought cheap labor:  Prisoners of debt and war.

The earliest English colonials were typically the dregs of their debtors prisons, or Irish and Scots-Irish forcibly conscripted by their British overlords.

The one notable exception were the religious fanatics, the Puritans and Quakers -- both losers in England’s cultural upheavals -- who came to stake out their own private domains and to do so were willing to make a deal with, if not exactly Lucifer, then certainly Mammon.

All of the newcomers were acutely aware of longstanding class differences among the people of the British Isles, but they were also aware colonial America gave them an opportunity to either blunt that difference among other British settlers or actually elevate themselves above first the Native Americans and then the enslaved Africans.

The Irish and Scots-Irish and lower class habitués of English debtors’ prisons proved unequal to the task of working the landed gentry’s large plantations economically enough to generate the vast wealth the owners demanded.

Unlike Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Central and South America, the British were unable to insinuate themselves into existing Native American class and social structures (“Conoce al nuevo jefe, al igual que el viejo jefe” as they might say south of the border).  Native tribes in North America could not be coerced into serving as cheap labor for the early colonies* and as a result vast numbers of enslaved Africans were imported as labor.

Lower class Scots-Irish -- dubbed “white trash” literally as they stepped ashore in America -- now found themselves without much prospects beyond family farms, often at a subsistence level.

Plantation owners quickly directed their resentment against Native Americans and enslaved Africans and African-Americans.

To sate lower class white rage, non-whites were systematically denied equal protection under law, their lives and claims to property considered worthless by white laws and white courts.

And as noted above, while “white” typically meant a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, the term WASP didn’t become common until the 20thcentury.

That’s because the white majority didn’t need non-Anglo-Saxons and / or non-Protestants in order to remain a white majority.

But the white majority defined itself by whom it excluded.

As African-Americans observe with wry humor:  ”Black blood is the strongest blood in the world; one drop makes you black.”

The white majority excluded most people outside of the WASP camp.  A few Hispanics or Western Europeans were allowed to intermarry and have their offspring counted as “white”, but typically an Irish or Italian or Jewish parent got a child placed in the “other” camp at the very least, and if the parent was Native American or African-American, then at best they were a “’breed” and at worse considered wholly their minority parent’s ethnicity.

The white majority resolutely reduced their number by excluding their own children and grandchildren.

When the term “WASP” was being used, it was the result of whites being forced to admit non-Anglo-Saxons (such as the Irish, the Italians, and Eastern Europeans) and non-Protestants (such as Catholics and Jews) into the general white majority in order to maintain said majority status.

But among generic whites, WASPs were regarded as a separate high caste, Brahmans of purported racial purity supposedly superior to -- and thus entitled to lead -- the rest of the white people.

Eventually even this distinction had to be done away with:  Too many WASPs intermarried with non-WASPs to sustain the distinction.

Now, after nearly half a millennia of excluding their own offspring from their social class, the white majority finds itself about to end.

Oh, there will still be white people among us for a great many centuries to come, but because they exclude everyone one-half / one-quarter / one-eighth / one-sixteenth something else, they will lose their majority status.

And, lacking the imagination -- not to mention the courage and the will -- to change, they look anxiously to a future where they will be one minority among many.

And they fear being treated as their ancestors treated others.

This is the point where the poindexters start loudly proclaiming, “Hey, I never oppressed anybody!  I never chased an Indian off his land, or enslaved a black, or denied a Mexican or Asian the right to vote!”

No, but our white ancestors built a system to benefit their offspring -- that’s you and me, poindexter -- at the expense of others.

People are still suffering and being harmed both in this country and abroad because of that system.

Now, we either help dismantle that system for the good of everybody, or we help maintain it, in which case we are just as guilty as the ones who built it.

…and deserving of everything that befalls us because of that.

 

© Buzz Dixon

 

* Centuries later, their cousins among the tribes of the Great Plains did sign on voluntarily, and Hollywood whitewashing to the contrary, as many as one out of every five cowboys in the Old West were of Native American ancestry.

 

 

 

On The Convention Trail:  San Diego Comic Con 2018

On The Convention Trail: San Diego Comic Con 2018

Kitty Genovese And The Central Park Five

Kitty Genovese And The Central Park Five