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Carol M. Swain

Carol M. Swain

Posted: August 20, 2009 12:17 PM

'Whites are People Too': Why Some White People are Stating the Obvious


"Whites are people too" is the title of a YouTube video making the rounds on the Internet. A lot of stuff is happening in the world of race relations and little of it points towards a post-racial society. Fox commentator Glenn Beck has been targeted by groups demanding his removal for having had the gall to call President Obama a racist who hates white people. Beck is steadily losing advertisers, but his viewers seem to be sticking with him. Undoubtedly, there are white Americans who agree with Beck and will cite as evidence Obama's long-term membership in Reverend Jeremiah Wright's ethnocentric Church, his Administration dropping charges against members of the New Black Panther Party suspected of intimidating white Philadelphia voters, and his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

White desperation is manifesting itself in various forms. Last week I received an e-mail from a Jewish woman whom I shall call Hadassah who described herself as being frustrated by racial preferences and racial double standards. After reading my book, The New White Nationalism in America, and my blog criticizing the Southern Poverty Law Center, Hadassah wrote to inquire whether I would be willing to serve as an interpreter between the races. She thought the book gave a fair treatment of white nationalism and felt that perhaps I might be the one person who could help improve the situation. This blog represents my first attempt at being a cross-racial interpreter.

I found in Hadassah's request both sincerity and quiet desperation. Hers is one of many such e-mails I have received over the years from whites who confess to having been raised in liberal democratic- homes, but who are now flirting with white nationalism. These whites express frustration with immigration, black crime rates, racial preferences, and demographic changes reducing the percentage of non-Hispanic whites in the population. They see themselves as the "real" victims of racial discrimination, who have no recourse left other than to organize themselves for self-preservation. Many people believe that these concerns and attitudes belong to a radical fringe. I disagree.

Hadassah wrote:

I myself never harbored any racialist or racist attitudes until the advent of the playing of the race card, affirmative action, reverse racism against White people, and the myriad attempts by liberals in government to make life unbearable for those of the White Race, such as forced integration, forced busing, and the ruination of White neighborhoods. I have met many Asian people who share these exact concerns as well.

Because of the many efforts by professional race mongers such as the SPLC, the NAACP, and the like, hatred against your people has heightened to a level I have never before seen in my half-century of life on this earth. It terrifies me, and I wonder if perhaps fair-minded persons like yourself could help ameliorate this in some way? It seems you have indeed been trying; I try to do the same within the Jewish community, to make Jewish liberals understand that many of their actions only harm the Jewish people in the eyes of the Gentile community.

Hadassah's willingness to write me a letter suggests she is willing to engage in some sort of constructive dialogue. She is not the only Jewish person who identifies as a white nationalist. In the New White Nationalism in America, I quote two Jewish nationalist professors who expressed sentiments quite similar to Hadassah's: Michael Levin and Michael Hart. Hart had even gone as far as to develop a plan for partitioning the United States by race and ethnicity. Both interviews can be read in their entirety in Swain and Nieli's Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism.
More white nationalist sentiments can be found on the rather sanitized website Western Voices World Needs Downloadable flyers on the site tell of the group's concerns about being outnumbered by racial and ethnic minorities. There are no threats or hints of violence against minorities.

Jack Hunter, a conservative commentator from South Carolina, calls himself the Southern Avenger. Through Taki Magazine , Hunter has recently produced the video; Whites are People Too , which condemns racial double-standards by members of the media. The impetus for Hunter's video was a Maureen Dowd column, "Toilet-paper Barricades," which took a swing at the Town Hall protesters. With her usual wit, Dowd noted that "Instead of a multicultural tableau of beaming young idealists on screen, we see ugly scenes of mostly older and white malcontents, disrupting forums where others have come to actually learn something." Hunt also cites a Paul Krugman column, "The Town Hall Mob" which suggested that the protesters are really protesting a black president.

As I have warned repeatedly, I believe America is headed for unprecedented levels of racial turmoil. The election of President Barack Obama has not been the healing balm anticipated. If anything President Obama's stances have heighten rather than ameliorated existing racial and ethnic tensions. If we are to make progress, we need a no-holds-barred racial dialogue during which minorities must listen as much as they speak out. We desperately need leaders willing to stand up and defend rather than subvert our Constitutional rights.

Carol M. Swain is a Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University. A frequent commentator on race relations, immigration, black leadership, and evangelical politics, Swain is also an accomplished author of several popular books, including The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration (Cambridge University Press, 2002), Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism (Cambridge University Press, 2003) Black Face, Black Interests: The Representation of African American in Congress (Harvard University Press, 1993), and her most recent book Debating Immigration (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

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