On the surface 2016 was a big F*** you to the establishment but make no mistake, 2016 was white supremacies last stand. This was the year white privilege could bare no more infliction. The silent majority had spoken, they had enough. The ordeal of; political correctness, competition from immigration and equality under human rights and political institutions had been too much to bare.
For a brief second in human history, white supremacy had tasted an atom worth of suppression it inflicted across the globe. And it threw its toys out of the pram.
The hypocrisy, arrogance and self righteousness of the hidden silent white majority, is quite simply, jaw dropping. At the centre of its world perspective is a paradigm which filters reality to prioritise white superiority. It selectively interprets reality to create a narrative which lacks any sense of self accountability. The Immigration debate ignores the brutal history of western imperialism, and the stark reality of an interconnected global economy. Perspectives on the refugee crisis ignore the consequences of western foreign policy intervention across the Arab world, specifically the Iraq war. The narrative to emerge out of the financial crisis redirected blame away from a banking elite and placed firmly with notably visible minority immigrants. Arguments concerning retracting government spending on international development for poor countries ignore centuries of colonisation and fails to acknowledge the legacy of destitution left by white western nations. These would appear to be inconvenient truths.
Everything was better in the past…
Both the Trump and Brexit campaigned on returning to the wonderful land of the past. For the Trump campaign, Americas greatness was in the past and the ‘Make America Great Again’ was a direct attack against change and social progress. For Brexit, ‘Take back control’ ushered the same cries of social decadence.
But we were never told, which era of the past we should model for our future. Regardless, a utopic return to the past is an attack against social progress and seeks only to the benefit of white privilege. As LP Hartley once said, ‘The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there’. For the silent white majority things were better in the past, a time when white privilege went unchallenged. What did this past look like? If we return back 50 years, black people could not vote in America. 100 years and the Kiplins notion of ‘The white man’s burden’ was born. 150 yeas ago and the public lynching of black people in the US was a public theatre sceptical in which white parents would take their children to watch at a circus. The silent white majorities support of a return to the past, was an outrage at losing their social superiority. Social progress was not all they expected it to be. Equality became a zero sum game. Social progress came at the cost of white superiority and privilidge. A cost which would only become apparent after 8 years of a black presidency. The ills of society were a direct consequence of diluting values of the good old days, the days when white superiority went unopposed. Isolationism propagated by Trump and Brexit is more than an economic or foreign policy strategy. It is a desperate, last ditch attempt to stop the dilution of a precious, sacred white culture against the ‘ravages’ of globalism.
When women voters picked Trump over Clinton, they prioritised being white over being a female. They were willing to over look his child rape accusation and countless sexual harassment cases, because he represented a return to white superiority. They picked their skin colour over the values which makes them who they are. The social progress represented by Clinton was viewed as an extension of what Obamas presidency represented. After being disillusioned at what social progress looked like and meant for them, a Clinton presidency would provide further uncertainty to white privilege. Trump became the only certainty in social gain for the silent white majority. The older white generation won the vote for Brexit and Trump. It is also no coincidence that the same group had experienced the most amount of change to the status quo.
The white majority has shown to selectively interpret reality to fit its world view of white superiority. Choosing to return to an era where social progress did not come at the cost of white privilege. As one American commentator put it, this was a ‘whitelash’. White America seeking to protect itself against a changing country and its exposure to a changing world. The same can be said of the UK. Yet what goes around, comes around. By 2050 white people will be the ethnic minority in America. In Britain, by 2050 37.5% of the population will be from minority backgrounds. The landscape will have changed so drastically, white people will then forever be susceptible to the populist anti minority movements espoused in the past.
Do I blame the silent white majority for our xenophobic, racist and hate filled society? Yes for being so stupid and tendering to rhetoric which touches their primitive emotions, but ultimately no. Racism is not innate, we are not born to hate or feel superiority because of our skin colour. It has always been a top down social phenomena. We are taught to hate.
‘The history of class and racial politics has always been rich white people telling poor white people, their problem is black and brown people’- Cedric Ben
The idea of the white race came into existence in 1670s as a means for wealthy property owning white men to maintain the status quo against pressures of equality and fairness from the masses. Priory to this, no one of European decent affiliated themselves by their skin colour or country but rather their region. ‘At least you are not black’ was the rhetoric to emerge out of the colonies, targeted towards working class white people who were only marginally better off than the enslaved black. But it worked. Order was maintained. Divide and rule won.
Brexit achieved a majority for voters over 50. Similar stats show the same for Trump. Our generation lives in a new era. A borderless, interconnected and integrated world. The isolationism and fear of cultural dilution both of these populist movements have represented will only be a temporary phenomenon. They are holding on for dear life, but soon the tide will turn.
– Anam Rahman
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