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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Night Card Game (Diagnosis: White Privilege Syndrome by Proxy)

This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:

I could have taken the easy way out this week, and put up a quick post about the supposedly racist Pepsi commercial during the Superbowl.  Instead, I will jump back into the pool of "white privilege," which was the subject of a post 51 weeks ago.

Let's start with the concept of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSP)(emphasis mine):
Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSP), a type of factitious disorder, is a mental illness in which a person acts as if an individual he or she is caring for has a physical or mental illness when the person is not really sick. The adult perpetrator has MSP and directly produces or lies about illness in another person under his or her care, usually a child under 6 years of age. It is considered a form of abuse by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. However, cases have been reported of adult victims. (The term "by proxy" means "through a substitute.")

People with MSP have an inner need for the other person (often his or her child) to be seen as ill or injured. It is not done to achieve a concrete benefit, such as financial gain. People with MSP are even willing to have the child or patient undergo painful or risky tests and operations in order to get the sympathy and special attention given to people who are truly ill and their families. Factitious disorders are considered mental illnesses because they are associated with severe emotional difficulties.
Then, let's meet the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites:
CARW is a group of white people in the Seattle area working to undo institutional racism and white privilege through education and organizing in white communities and active support of anti-racist, people of color-led organizations. We support the self-determination of people of color, honor their leadership and are held accountable to people of color-led organizations.
And then let's apply CARW's Working Definition of White (emphasis mine):
CARW believes that whiteness is an invention that has shifted throughout history. Below is a working definition of what it means to be white in the United States. To be white is to have ancestral origins from Europe and/or experience white privilege and/or experience internalized racial superiority.

Ancestral origins from Europe: Rooted in legacies of European colonialism, the white race was initially created by English-speaking men of wealth in order to consolidate power amongst peoples of European origin. In the context of the United States, many ethnically marginalized European immigrants have come to reap the benefits of whiteness through the process of assimilation (e.g., the Irish and Italians became white over time). More recently, many have argued that Latinas/os and people of “Middle-Eastern” origin are white. CARW does not believe these populations reap the privileges of whiteness in the United States, recognizing that communities of color are racialized in distinct ways in relation to whiteness.

Experience of white privilege: Institutions provide benefits to groups of individuals based on their whiteness. As white people experience white privilege, people of color experience racial oppression. Throughout history, whiteness has been constructed as a means to inequitably distribute resources. Contrary to popular belief, white people do not experience racism (i.e., “reverse racism” or otherwise). While we acknowledge the existence of colorism, which serves to divide communities of color based on skin tone; this “light skin privilege” is not the same as white privilege. Additionally, we respect the self-identification of people of mixed heritage and do not see it as the role of white people to determine if individuals “pass” or “don’t pass” as white. Lastly, whiteness operates differently across gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, religion and other facets of social identity.

Internalized racial superiority: In this culture, white people are socialized to internally believe we are superior to people of color. This internalization is seldom acknowledged or overtly expressed, but is nonetheless present in our thoughts and actions. Whiteness operates as the norm within our society and we often believe we are racially neutral. As anti-racist white people, we see it as part of our work to name and challenge this internal process within all of us. [See also, What It's Like To Be White in Ithaca.]
The concept of white privilege as applied by CARW, an organization of only whites (irony alert), reminds me of the diagnosis of MSP. 

The white people at CARW seem to have an inner need for racism to appear to exist in other whites, so as to garner attention for being anti-racist whites.

Whether racism actually exists in any quantifiable or verifiable manner doesn't matter.  CARW has devised a fluid definition of whiteness and white privilege which cannot be contradicted by evidence.  White no longer is a skin color or race, it is a concept.

The more the evidence points away from actual racism based on skin color, the stronger the white privilege argument gets, because failure to recognize racism is one of the hallmarks of white privilege.  (See for example What's It's Like To Be White In Ithaca.)

To use the analogy of MSP, it matters not whether the child is sick, what is important is that the child be seen as sick so that the parent can gain the attention and sympathy which accrues to the parents of sick children.

Because the nation never can be cured of its white privilege, the opponents of white privilege never will stop getting the attention they crave as anti-racists.

*   *   *

And now for some comic relief.  Want an example of white privilege in action?  How about the treatment of Sarah and Bristol Palin. 

According to the self-appointed anti-white privilege commentator below, the Palins had their personal privacy respected whereas people of color in similar circumstances would have been demeaned and subject to ridicule (foul language alert):

Like I said, sick in the head.

Related Posts:
White Privilege Conference
Counting Non-White People at Palin Book Signings
I Am Veit

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  1. I think a better analogy come from George Orwell's 1984. In the book, Oceana is in a permanent state of war. Likewise, the "struggle" against racism never seems to end.

    Also, the opponent in 1984 tends to shift suddenly and without warning (now Eurasia; now Eastasia). Notice that the way we refer to minorities can also change overnight (from "Negro" to "black" to "African-American"; from "Hispanic" to "Latino"). If you are caught using the wrong word or phrase, you are labeled a bloodthirsty racist monster.

    And, like the Party in 1984, the proponents of this endless "struggle" against racism have totalitarian ambitions. As one character in Orwell's book put it: the object of power is power. Keeping people divided and at each other's throats seems to be the goal of many "anti-racism" groups like CARW, since it makes it easier to amass political power.

    The issue of racism is important to me. My wife is a beautiful black African woman, and our biological son shares our mixed ethnic heritage. I am weary of hate groups like CARW who are willing to fan racial and ethnic hatred for political gain. They are creating an ugly climate our son will have to grow up in.

  2. It's always fun to point out that Bristol Palin (and all of the other Palin kids) are part Native Alaskan.

  3. Besides MSP, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, aka Maslow's Pyramid, comes to mind. The more these people's basic and important needs are met, the more they seem to find themselves at the top of the pyramid with nothing to look forward to ... and they spend inordinate amounts of time in the realm of the super-self-actualization need of being ever self-righteously indignant about increasingly fictitious injustices.

    Self-criticism of one's group, whether it be ethnicity/race/nationality, etc., can be noble when sincere and called for ... but what they are doing is no such thing; there's nothing noble about masturbation, and that is what their efforts amount to.

    It's an easy, cheap, trendy way to take the guilty edge off of living a comfortable life.

    They are sitting on top of Maslow's Pyramid, the point snugly up their collective arse, smugly masturbating in search of nobility.

  4. People who apologize for others who know they've done no wrong or relatively less wrong by ??? standards should apologize and then grovel at the feet of ALL of us (which, clearly, they get off on doing, so win-win, yes?)

    Of course, "all" is inclusive and not race-specific/ favoring/ dissing acc. to the OED, but these days one has to BELabor the obvious.

    Um, I'm white when not tan in summer or mottled by a rash; i've experienced so-called reverse racism in black, thoroughly enfranchised Atlanta; have never cared one way nor'other about melatonin except as needed for good sleep; i didn't vote for Obama in coaxed white guilt apology, b/c the 60s idea that character and not color counts still seems right to me.

    MSP is a sickening phenonemon even in isloated incidents. Would hate to think of it scaled up to fit particulars of our social dynamics but, Prof. Jacobson, you may be onto something... sick. PLEASE don't stop heroically typing life as you see it, though. We and our country/civ need to think about and deal, not sweep under.


    That is SOOO true!. I read that and I was like, damn man, and then you look at from that perspective, and you get angry.

    I got angry.

    I was like, uh...



  6. It's certainly reassuring to find out there are a few white people in America still against racism.

    Apparently, according to the current administration and what passes for a national media, only Caucasians can really be racist, so its good to see at least some of us are able to play nice with others. /sarc off/

    And to think those fool's parents thought they were giving their offspring a better life, making sure they never endured the common hardships as those that grew up in earlier generations. Talk about the law of Unanticipated Consequences.

  7. "The more these people's basic and important needs are met, the more they seem to find themselves at the top of the pyramid with nothing to look forward to ... and they spend inordinate amounts of time in the realm of the super-self-actualization need of being ever self-righteously indignant about increasingly fictitious injustices."

    LOL, how true, how true. Especially during the dreary winter months in the Pacific Northwest.

    I have some experience with the Seattle area and its Zeitgeist and I want to say that it's primarily Scandinavian (mainly Norwegian) from the US Upper Midwest and Scots from Eastern and Central Canada and there's a deep live and let live attitude there. Norwegian and Scot are related by battle or marriage from centuries ago.

    You want to think this or that, get on this high horse or that, fine, go for it. It's all fleeeeeting, ya know. See what ya can get out of the old area and take it home to the wife and kids, ya know.

    Western Washingtonians are barnyard animals: they peck and paw at one another, especially in frivolous law suits, but they never really become beasts of prey. Barnyard animals, not wild animals, such as New Yorkers and Chicagoans. One learns who is suit-happy and gives them a wide berth. A lot are.

    So it's sort of an amusement to most. These cats calling themselves CARW are typical Western Washingtonians winding up for a good old barnyard squabble in some judge's court.

    Much of it is simply the weather, which has been more than usually dreary of late, I hear. I wouldn't make too much of this. Ole and Angus are prone to this sort of demonstration, especially during the gloomy months of winter, as something to do, but also as the local version of "Oh ya, ya betcha, ya, OK then, we be goin' to get that scum bag, ya, ya betcha, oh ya, he goin' out far in a leaky boat, he is, ya."

    Beyond that, everything Professor Jacobson remarks regarding this group and its dis-ease is true.

  8. To point out the obvious:

    This creep apparently doesn't read Andrew Sullivan.

  9. The lengths the bed wetters will reach to somehow find or create racism truly boggles the mind. Its not surprising as it is a best and often times the only card in their well worn deck of grievances that is certain to get attention

  10. Well... and the natural consequences of TYT's nonsense:

    *"Most embarrassing for MSNBC has to be Cenk Uygur's performance at 6PM. Not only is he getting handily beaten by CNN's "Situation Room," but he's also almost getting quadrupled by Fox's "Special Report."*

    Read more: http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2011/02/12/msnbcs-ratings-are-collapsing#ixzz1DqMdB4ZP

    Americans are, thankfully, smarter than that.

  11. I love this. This mental-illness-thinking is so prevalent on the left, and in many indoctrinated average Americans. I remember a Univ. of Delaware definition of racism reflected this very idea - and they were rightly sued to have it changed because of its obvious incorrect definition and bias. Great one!!

    (BTW - a good anti-Race-Card jab comes from Rep. Allen West's CPAC key note opening, which the MSM and politicos will ignore. He thanks the TEA party and conservatives for putting up with the (MSM and) Leftist Liberals' attacks of racism, and says, "....perhaps they should see who is standing here as your key note speaker...." Defies the "working definition" of this all-white, self-hating group, eh?!)

    Thanks Professor!!! Enjoy your day.

  12. I think it was Shelby Steele who said something like these kinds of people "can feel the pea of racism under 20 mattresses."

  13. What's interesting to me here is that this person keeps setting up straw men: "If a black person does 'x' then white people will think 'y' of him, therefore those people are racist." Ask him how he knows that people will think "y" and he will doubtless say "Because white people are racist", thus closing the circle.

  14. This kind of thinking is not just prevalent on the left; it has been insidiously introduced into the curriculum. I got a good dose of it in a sociology class last semester. Not mentioned in the syllabus, not mentioned in the textbook; our teacher (white) took it upon herself to lay it on the class for a week. When I attempted to humorously bring up Tall People's Privilege (they get the best jobs) and Good-Looking People's Privilege (they get into the best clubs) and Young People's Privilege (who do you think they time the "Walk" light at a crosswalk for), I was castigated for not appreciating a "serious problem". Uh-huh. My people came from Latin America and Eastern Europe; slave-owning wasn't real big on the agenda. I really resent being tagged as evil for an accident of birth, and that there's not a shoot-on-sight custom for people who advocate crap like that.