Whiteness vs. the common good

Outstanding new essay by Gregory Rodriguez on where the partisan divide in American is and has always been–race, of course, but with the added dimension of assimilated “whiteness”–with a nuanced discussion of how Puritanical religious themes, and not the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are used to reinforce white supremacy, deny not only race but ethnicity, and detour the abstract political idea of American patriotism into the fracture of self-interest we are experiencing today, manifested in the response to the pandemic. This is a serious and very worthwhile read.

“Once the glue to an imperfect type of social cohesion, whiteness now threatens to undermine the social contract altogether. The reluctance that we have witnessed over the past months of both millions of individuals to wear masks and for state and local governments to mandate it were just the most glaring examples of a trend that’s been building for decades. The massive loss of human life will do nothing to change this. The meaning of America, the role of race in it, and a peculiar brand of nation building have allowed the emptiness of whiteness to even pass as nationalism. And once again, as whites continue to shed any semblance of communal tradition, they grab onto patriotic symbols and ideology in an attempt to anchor themselves. But neither symbolism nor the constant attempt to reignite white cohesion by demonizing nonwhites both at home and abroad will make unhyphenated whites feel more secure in the world. The usual talismans will do nothing to keep them from falling through the latticework that is America. Meanwhile, they’re pushing the entire nation ever closer to the void.”

 

Rodriguez’ famous essay from 2003, Mongrel America, is still timely and also worth a re-read.

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