White Self-Pity

White America is within thinkable distance of a moment when it will no longer be the majority.

Apropos our  discussion of race and politics today, Andrew Sullivan calls my attention to a related observation by Christopher Hitchens a couple weeks back in the aftermath of the Glenn Beck rally:

One crucial element of the American subconscious is about to become salient and explicit and highly volatile. It is the realization that white America is within thinkable distance of a moment when it will no longer be the majority. This awareness already exists in places like New York and Texas and California, and there have even been projections of the time(s) at which it will occur and when different nonwhite populations will collectively outnumber the former white majority. But it also exerts a strong subliminal effect in states like Alaska that have an overwhelming white preponderance.


[I]t is increasingly common to hear allegations that Obama is either foreign-born or a Muslim. And these insinuations are perfectly emblematic of the two main fears of the old majority: that it will be submerged by an influx from beyond the borders and that it will be challenged in its traditional ways and faiths by an alien and largely Third World religion.

This summer, then, has been the perfect register of the new anxiety, beginning with the fracas over Arizona’s immigration law, gaining in intensity with the proposal by some Republicans to amend the 14thAmendment so as to de-naturalize “anchor babies,” cresting with the continuing row over the so-called “Ground Zero” mosque, and culminating, at least symbolically, with a quasi-educated Mormon broadcaster calling for a Christian religious revival from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

While this isn’t the motivation of most of the Tea Party or perhaps even most of those who want to stop illegal immigration, there’s a strong undercurrent of this in our political Zeitgeist.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, Religion, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    On what do you base your assurance that this isn’t the motivation of the Tea Party or anti-immigration forces?

  2. Mark says:

    Thank goodness for all of the leftist/Libutards for keeping tabs on all of us poor white conservatives……why with out all of them we would just be lost in our ignorance! We would object to illegal immigration for silly reasons like, hey, it IS illegal! Then, we might object to a scheme of gaming the legal system like “anchor babies” out of the mistaken belief that it is a method of gaming the system. Still confused, we might fall into a public call for a return to Christian values such as those advocated by almost all of our funding fathers….while being ignorant of the fact we were only terrified of a future demographic shift. Thanks so much, we can now carry on with enlightened minds and hearts.

  3. G.A.Phillips says:

    All my pity goes to liberals regardless of their pigmentation or legality.

  4. wr says:

    Christian values — do they include condeming innocent babies as “anchors” because they’re born to parents you dislike?

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    “there’s a strong undercurrent of this in our political Zeitgeist.”

    There is indeed Jim. If you want some proof take a look at the couple of profound interventions of Mark and Phillips. I think you’re wrong about the extent to which it’s a motivator of the tea party crowd but their emotions are such a jumble it’s not always easy to separate them. But in a general sense it surely seems hard to deny that nativism isn’t one of their mainsprings. 

  6. ponce says:

    Don’t forget the Commie Chinese have been kicking America’s economic butt for more than 20 years now and the U.S. military has been fought to a standstill by a few thousand dusky goatherds.
    It’s not exactly the Caucasian Golden Age.

  7. G.A.Phillips says:

     the U.S. military has been fought to a standstill by a few thousand dusky goatherds.

    More like by a few hundred crusty donkey herders…..

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    “White People” by the way remains a singularly superficial concept.  As though English, Irish, Italians, Russians, Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Swedes, Swiss, Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch, Americans and all the multitude of tribes and ethnic subsets subsumed in those nationalities, haven’t spent the last two millennia murdering each other with all the vigor at their command.
    Take just the “White People” of the UK.  How many times have English, Welsh, Scots and Irish gone after each other hammer and tong?  It’s as asinine as generalizing about “Black People” and lumping Hutu and Tutsis together, or Xhosa and Masai.  Like pigmentation was the deciding variable.
    Racism is a sort of ego-of-last-resort.  When you have absolutely nothing else to brag about, you talk about your melanin.  And then what effrontery!  Ignorant buffoons like some we all know claiming kinship with Jefferson or Shakespeare or Da Vinci because of similar skin tone?  Hah.

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    So it is somehow wrong for certain Americans to appreciate their shared history and culture?  It has become wrong to want to keep those cultural elements that have led us to be a successful and affluent country that leads the world in medicine, the arts, and a host of other things?  How is it wrong to understand the abusive use of anchor babies to subvert our immigration laws and oppose the practice?  Is it wrong to understand the potential threat of sharia law to our enlightened liberal senses?
    The reason the Chinese are beating us in manufacturing is they stole many of our trade secrets and work the peasants for next to nothing.  We have minimum wage laws, workplace safety laws, and fare competition.
    Those goat herders are not beating us because they can but because we let them.  We fail to use the overwhelming force at our command because of our own sense of morality yet they send children to kill our soldiers with bombs strapped to their chest.
    We have something worth keeping and something worth fighting for.  Those who think it’s all about the color of the skin are sorely mistaken.  It’s about our culture and values.  Ignoring American exceptionalism may be what the intelligentsia do but they are wrong.  They may have white guilt but we who value traditional American values do not have white self pity.  Hitchens doesn’t get it.

  10. Steve Plunk says:

    Michael,  I claim no kinship to Jefferson, Shakespeare, or Da Vinci but I am a part of the same western culture that they were a part of and molded.  A person can make that claim without saying they are their peers in intelligence or talent.  We should all be proud of our culture.

  11. john personna says:

    I grew up in a California town with one of those 60’s vintage name constructions: one Spanish word, and one English word, to make a two word name.  That always made sense to me, and I always considered California half-Spanish or half-Mexican.  I mean, our movie hero was Zorro, not Hawkeye.
    So I was on a hike with a new group, and got to talking to a 60-something guy.  He said he liked OC and how each wave of culture (actually he meant immigrants from nations we have wars with) blended in.  Except, he said, the Mexicans.
    In that social situation I didn’t want to disagree, but I wondered where the guy was from.  I mean, could you grow up here without knowing Zorro was here first?

  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    “Western culture?”  Try defining that.  Why don’t you enlighten us all on just what that means.
    Representative democracy?  More of a Hebrew invention, probably.  You know, the 12 tribes, the Judges.  But if you’d rather credit the Greeks, I’m fine with that so long as you understand that “the West” did its level best to bury the poor old Greeks.
    Religious freedom?  Actually more of a pagan thing.  Monotheists are typically intolerant.  (See about 100 different religious wars.)
    The rule of law?  Sorry.  Predates Western Culture.
    Technology?  The West didn’t give a damn about technology until at least the 17th century.  And then generalizing to encompass “Western Culture” when a small handful of subsets of Western Culture did all the heavy lifting while the rest of “Western Culture” contributed nada is arrogant. Add up the technological innovations and breakthroughs by Portuguese, Spaniards, Czechs, Ukrainians, Swedes, Poles, Finns and compare them to say, tiny little Scotland.  Or to what those interlopers in Western Culture, the Jews, provided
    You want to associate yourself with some sort of historical movement, but it’s largely nonsense, a line drawn around a set of disparate cultures, all gathered under a smoothing veil of ignorance.  As usual with this sort of facile, propagandistic notion it violates what we know of history and of course results in people who contributed nothing claiming credit for the work of other individuals.
    What have you contributed to Western Culture, Steve Plunk?  Did you invent something?  Did you create a great work of art? Did you cure some disease?  No?  Then what do mean, “We,” quimosabe?

  13. Steve Plunk says:

    Michael,  Deconstruct all you want but most of us recognize the value of Western civilization and don’t have to define it just so others can continue the deconstruction.  Take America and Western Civilization as whole and you see the value.  I’ll not define anything and play a sophomoric game for others.  Bait not taken Sir.
    We all are part of Western Culture who vote, who work and who support the traditions and values others have left us.  Are you saying only those with great contributions can consider themselves part of our culture or society?  Are there membership dues as well?
    Those with their noses turned up in disdain may say it’s nonsense but it merely expose their own self importance as they substitute their own values for those society has developed over generations.  Elitism like that is what ruins our great country.

  14. sam says:

    “So it is somehow wrong for certain Americans to appreciate their shared history and culture?”
    Their shared history and culture — Since the title of James’s post is “White Self-Pity” and the subject is the coming demographic dislodgement of the white majority, we can infer that ‘certain Americans’ denotes white folks. This blessed group is further defined, in Plunkspeak, as those who have enjoyed “the American experience”, not some guy raised in Hawaii.  Heading further in the pale nativist thicket, Plunk writes:

    It has become wrong to want to keep those cultural elements that have led us to be a successful and affluent country that leads the world in medicine, the arts, and a host of other things?

    As if people of the nonwhite persuasion have made no contribution to medicine, the arts, and a “host of other things”. I mean, what else can we gather from the expression ‘those cultural elements’ if not the idea that those elements are ‘white only’.
    The provincialism and narrowness of focus is not in the least surprising. And this is completely expected: “Those with their noses turned up in disdain…”

  15. ponce says:

    “So it is somehow wrong for certain Americans to appreciate their shared history and culture? ”

    Not everybody’s ancestors engaged in slavery and treason, Steve.

  16. anjin-san says:

    > We should all be proud of our culture.
    Folks on the right do seem to feel this way. Sadly, it never seems to occur to them to actually contribute to it…

  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    I mean, our movie hero was Zorro, not Hawkeye. Z was the bomb!!!

  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    Not everybody’s ancestors engaged in slavery and treason lol, not everybody’s  political party either!!!!

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    Rather than huffing and puffing about deconstruction, why not explain with some precision just what you mean by “Western Culture.”
    Let’s start with music.  In fact, let’s start with jazz, blues, rock.  Please reconstruct and tell me what you think of jazz as a major creation of Western Culture.

  20. anjin-san says:

    > Please reconstruct and tell me what you think of jazz as a major creation of Western Culture.

    My random thought is “thank God for black folks”.

  21. Jane Sampson says:

    For Michael “I hate white people” Reynolds:
    What Makes Western Culture Unique

  22. superdestroyer says:

    Middle class whites are scared to death because the U.S. will soon be a majority non-white country at the same time that the U.S. has laws that reward non-whites for not being white.
    If you look at the Gratz case in front of the supreme court, the left was in front of the Supreme court arguing that separate and unequal was not only legal but good government policy.
    Look at the number of whites who would never live in their hometown because white no longer live in the old neighborhood and their children could never survive in the schools that they graduate from. Look at the amount of money that white have to spend to avoid the disasters of majority black or majority Hispanic neighborhoods.
    When whites look at the future, they wonder if there is anyplace for them in the U.S.

  23. sam says:

    Jane Sampson, that’s quite a citation. I was particularly impressed by his argument that the Jews want to destroy Western Civilization:

    [G]roup strategies deriving from collectivist cultures, such as Judaism, are immune to such a maneuver because kinship and group ties come first. Morality is particularistic—whatever is good for the group. There is no tradition of altruistic punishment because the evolutionary history of these groups centers around cooperation of close kin, not strangers. 

    The best strategy to destroy Europeans, therefore, is to convince the Europeans of their own moral bankruptcy. A major theme of my book, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements, is that this is exactly what Jewish intellectual movements have done. They have presented Judaism as morally superior to European civilization and European civilization as morally bankrupt and the proper target of altruistic punishment. The consequence is that once Europeans are convinced of their own moral depravity, they will destroy their own people in a fit of altruistic punishment. The general dismantling of the culture of the West, and eventually its demise as anything resembling an ethnic entity, will occur as a result of a moral onslaught triggering a paroxysm of altruistic punishment. And thus the intense effort among Jewish intellectuals to continue the ideology of the moral superiority of Judaism and its role as undeserving historical victim while at the same time continuing the onslaught on the moral legitimacy of the West…
    One very prominent strategy for Jewish intellectuals has been to promote radical individualism and moral universalism to the point that the entire ethnic basis of the society is undermined. In other words, these movements capitalized on the fact that Western societies had already adopted a paradigm of individualism and moral universalism, and were highly prone to altruistic punishment of their own people. These movements had the collective effect of undermining remaining sources of group cohesion among Europeans while leaving intact Judaism as a highly cohesive, group-based movement. The exemplar of this strategy is the work of the Frankfurt School of Social Research, but similar comments could be made about leftist political ideology and psychoanalysis. At its simplest level, gentile group identifications are regarded as an indication of psychopathology.

    Awesome. But, you know, R.Crumb presented this argument is a much more digestible format in his seminal work, When the Goddamn Jews Take Over America [http://www.heretical.com/miscella/rcjoa.html] — a work I highly recommend to those challenged by big words. Check it out, I’m sure it’ll ring your chimes.

  24. sam says:

    Oh, and not to be overlooked is Crumb’s other work, which will be of real interest to those who insist that one’s contribution to American culture is inversely proportional to the melanin content of one’s skin. Crumb really nails this one, too. See, When the Niggers Take Over America [http://www.heretical.com/miscella/rcnoa.html].

  25. clerins madona says:

    In my school, the Asians, the Hispanic and the Blacks hang out with each other. While the white students only hang out with other whites, they don’t want to get to know us minorities.

    <a href=”http://naturacleanse.org/”>Natura Cleanse</a>

  26. Steve Plunk says:

    Sam & anjin,  When will you guys get off race?  Western Civilization and Western culture have contributions from many races.  It has been put together over centuries and withstood the test of time yet there are people who want to toss it aside in a single generation.  My point is white America doesn’t fear those with different skin color but they are worried about the traditions and norms of Western Civilization and culture coming under attack.  That’s not a racial issue.

  27. john personna says:

    Steve, I’m thinking about going off to buy a fuzzy logic rice cooker today.  Will that undermine Western Values?

  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    You’ve still made no effort to define Western Culture.  I’ve asked a couple of times.  You seem enamored of “it” so why don’t you explain what “it” is?

  29. sam says:


    Western Civilization and Western culture have contributions from many races.

    Yeah, well, pity you didn’t make that clear up front.

  30. Steve Plunk says:

    Michael,  I’ve made it plain I will not play your game.
    Sam,  I assumed you would already know that.

  31. G.A.Phillips says:

    In my school, the Asians, the Hispanic and the Blacks hang out with each other. While the white students only hang out with other whites, they don’t want to get to know us minorities.
    Have you tried saying hi, whats your name? You can blame them or you can try making contact? But then I grew up with with everyone, er I meant every “color” and have never lived in a segregated city. like NY or Chicago or LA…..

  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    You’ve made it plain you have no idea what you’re talking about.  You are devoted to a thing you can’t even begin to define.  You’re defensive.  People get that way when they begin to suspect themselves of being full of bull.
    Rather than spar with me, why not spend a day or two actually thinking about the question? How do you define Western Culture?  What is it about Western Culture that earns your admiration?  How have you been formed by it?   How have you contributed to it?  Which elements do you perhaps not admire?  What criticisms do you have of it?  Are there other cultures you also admire?
    In the end, is this really anything other than a sort of dressed-up tribalism? Rather than warily defending a position about which, let’s face it, you don’t know much, why not learn, educate yourself, come back and kick my ass?

  33. anjin-san says:

    >  the traditions and norms of Western Civilization and culture coming

    Run along Steve. Its pretty clear that you cannot even articulate your ideas about what your concept of these traditions and norms is in a meaningful way. I am still waiting to hear your explanition of how Obama did not have the “shared American experience” of cars, girls and movies in the far off wilderness that is Hawaii…