Smells Like . . . White Guilt:
Christian Lander’s Whiter Shades of Pale
Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle’s Sweaters to Maine’s Microbrews
New York: Random House, 2010
I saw Christian Lander in San Francisco on Tuesday, December 2nd, speaking to a tiny sweater-clad audience at a small independent bookstore in the Marina District. Lander told the story of the amazing success of his blog Stuff White People Like (http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/), which in about six months grew from a private joke to a New York Times bestselling book (with a reported $300,000 advance). (See Christopher Donovan’s review of the Stuff White People Like book.)
In his talk, Lander made it very clear that he is not talking about all white people, but just “the right kind of white people,” as opposed to “the wrong kind of white people.”
The right kind of white people are urban, college-educated, and from upper-middle and upper-class backgrounds. And, most importantly, they are liberal.
Lander also adds that the right kind of white people are “rich”: they live in expensive cities, go to expensive colleges, travel widely, and can afford to take a year off from time to time. They know how to trade their hip, grungy attire for expensive suits and ties, and their ironic detachment for “attaboy” attitude, when opportunities for advancement in the system present themselves (courtesy of people from their parents’ generation and social circles).
And they know how to hold onto what’s theirs. They can be cheap and multicultural at the same time simply by replacing white workers with Guatemalans.
The wrong kind of white people live in suburbs and rural areas. They are not college educated, or, if they went to college, they were in frats and sororities, did not attend first tier schools, and did not take liberal arts degrees. They are working or middle class, or horrible businessman and industrialists. And they are not liberal. They are Tea Partiers and Republicans. They watch Fox News.
The right kind of white people define themselves by looking down on the wrong type of white people. This sort of intra-white status competition is a perennial feature of colonial societies like the United States and Lander’s native Canada, where an absence of fixed class distinctions creates immense social anxiety and a strong desire to distinguish oneself from “those people” through an ever-shifting set of conventional status markers that Lander focuses on with often uncanny perspicacity. (It takes a special kind of brilliance to see things that are so close to who we are that we cannot help but overlook them.)
I asked Lander “What percentage of white people are white people?” and he answered “90%” But it was clear he was talking only about 90% of the people he knew. In fact, 90% of the people he knows belong to the 20% of Americans who describe themselves as liberals. Lander also mentioned growing up in Toronto, where the white working and middle classes have been pretty much replaced by non-whites, which is a vision of the world being engineered by Lander’s type of white people for the rest of us.
Lander’s work is softball satire, not serious sociology. But he is nevertheless significant, because white liberals tend to think that they are generic, universal humans that all other humans aspire to imitate. In this, white liberals are true white supremacists. White Nationalists, who actually believe that the races are different, would never expect the other races to yearn to be just like us. We would sooner just let them be themselves.
By getting white liberals to realize that no, the things they like are not universal but parochially and ethnically white, Christian Lander has stumbled into something very subversive.
White liberals wish to give all the things they like the force of law: women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, environmentalism, historical preservationism, natural foods, walkable communities, general social tolerance. But the wrong type of white people stand in their way.
The solution is simple: dissolve the people and elect a new one. Destroy the wrong kind of white people by shipping their jobs overseas and importing non-whites to displace them at home. Destroy their will to reproduce by ridiculing and penalizing large white families. Destroy their ability to reproduce by taxing them to support large non-white families. And do whatever you can to make a buck producing a culture that leads the wrong kind of white people to political powerlessness, poverty, degradation, and death.
The right kind of white people think this will work, because they believe (1) that the new non-white peasantry will be grateful to them, (2) that deep down the grateful peasants all want to be just like them, and (3) that the emerging non-white majority will continue to accept the leadership of “the right kind of white people” even when they have dwindled to a minority segment of just another minority group. Lander talks about the magical process by which expensive colleges and urban environments transform select non-whites, mostly Asians, into white people.
Of course White Nationalists know that the white liberal plan for hegemony leads only to oblivion. The non-white hordes are well-aware of the parochial whiteness of liberal values. But non-white groups tend to be highly ethnocentric, and given the power, they will promote their own values, not the values of white liberals. Why in the world would they adopt the values of a people who have destroyed their civilization and handed their lands over to aliens?
In an America ruled by blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Hindus, and Muslims of all races, the stuff white liberals like–tolerance, feminism, gay rights, support for “the arts” (for white arts), environmentalism, historic preservationism (of white history), animal rights, etc.—will have pretty much the same status they have in every Third World country.
And aren’t there already enough corrupt, violent, impoverished, misogynistic, filthy, environmentally devastated Third World countries?
Lander’s work interests me for another reason. White Nationalism will not triumph if it is merely a phenomenon of the far right. We need to work to make white racial consciousness hegemonic up and down the political spectrum. In a White Nationalist society, we will still be arguing about drug legalization, gay rights, enviromentalism, abortion, etc. It is just that the Reds and the Blues will all be Whites, and whites will not have the opportunity to bring in non-whites to gain economic or political advantages in their battles with fellow whites.
So, how close are Christian Lander’s “right kind of white people” to white racial consciousness? Sitting in that audience and listening to the smug, self-satisfied sniggering at Lander’s gentle satire, I realized: They are already there.
The “right” kind of white people are supremely confident in their own superiority. Their self-esteem and sense of entitlement are rock solid. The right kind of white people believe that (1) all other human beings aspire to be just like them, and (2) they will always remain in power and able to secure and perpetuate their values. Those white people down at the Marina believe that the rising tide of color will float their boats.
One fellow asked Lander about what sort of criticism he gets. Apparently, a lot of Stormfront types take him to task for double standards: “How come it is OK to make fun of white people but not black or Hispanic or Asian people?” he asked in a mock-macho, working class accent. Lander’s answer stunned me: “It is always OK to make fun of white people, because no unhappy ending is possible.” Translation: white people will always be on top and in control.
But the double standard is not limited to mockery. In the present social climate, whites and whites alone are not allowed to think of ourselves as white unless we are mocking ourselves. Whites are not allowed to take pride in our race and its achievements. But other races are encouraged to. We are not allowed to weigh policy questions in terms of our racial interests. But other races are encouraged to, and even helped by whites. Increasing racial and ethnic diversity is leading to increasing polarization and conflict, in which all groups except whites are encouraged to take their own side and get their share.
In the midst of a race war, there can be no greater folly than impartiality, than the pious rot that “there is only one race, the human race.” Robert Frost once brilliantly described a liberal as a man who will not take his own side in a fight. In a fight to the death, such a policy is suicide.
In every transaction between a partial man and an impartial man, the impartial man is at a disadvantage. When the impartial man has a benefit to confer, the partial man appeals to the other’s impartiality and often walks off with the prize. But when the impartial man needs something from the partial man, his appeals to impartiality fall on deaf ears. As social interactions multiply, so do the partial man’s advantages at the expense of the impartial man. (The essence of the Jewish strategy of dominance is to practice ruthless partiality while urging their victims to be free of prejudice and partiality.)
Once the impartial man has nothing left to bargain with, once he has been reduced to powerlessness and penury, to what will he appeal to preserve his life and freedom? Impartiality? Universal notions of freedom and justice and rights? These are just pleading words unless one has the power to force others to respect them. But the impartial man has bargained all his power away. Pleading alone will not prevent him from being reduced to a slave or a corpse, and that is what we Whites will become unless we start taking our own side, and quickly.
* * *
Is Christian Lander Jewish? His humor definitely has a self-conscious, neurotic Jewish feel. On his website, there is a picture of him wearing a t-shirt with a Star of David and Hebrew lettering. So is Christian Lander “white” in the same way that Tim Wise is “white”: namely a Jew who pretends to be one of us so he can better mock us or sell us ethnocidal poison? Lander claims in his interview in Heeb Magazine that he is not Jewish. He just got the t-shirt at a thrift store. He was wearing it “ironically.” (In his talk, Lander gave examples of clothes that cannot be worn ironically by white people: Nazi uniforms and KKK robes.)
I believe Lander. The kind of white-versus-white status competition he explores existed long before the rise of Jewish hegemony. It has been deftly exploited by Jews, but it was not created by them.
What is Jewish about Lander is his penchant for irony and self-mockery. By “irony,” I do not mean the literary trope where one means something other than what one literally says. Instead, I mean a cynical pretense to have seen through the emptiness of something: a simple gesture like a handshake, an ideal, a practice, a religion, or a whole culture. Irony, of course, is incompatible with sincere commitment. Irony requires detachment, a step back, a look down. An ironist may still shake one’s hand. He may even shake it vigorously. But inside, he is only acting. He sees the gesture as meaningless, but goes through with it anyway, feeling superior to those who are “fooled.”
Diaspora Jews, of course, are natural ironists, because they are hostile aliens in every culture they inhabit. Jewish relations to non-Jews therefore are shot through with irony and mockery. Jewish cultural hegemony insures that ironism is now the reigning attitude of high and middlebrow non-Jews as well. Jewish hostility to white society means that the only acceptable form of white self-consciousness is ironic self-mockery. Sincere ethnic pride, of course, is “hate” when practiced by white people (and only white people). Thus Christian Lander is simply a non-Jew who has mastered how to write as a self-conscious white man within Jewish-imposed boundaries of discourse.
* * *
So, is Christian Lander funny? Yes, but I think he is a lot funnier in person than in print. There is a great deal of smugness and self-satisfaction in Lander’s brand of soothing satire. The right sort of white people look down on everybody else. When they read Lander, they also look down on themselves for just a second—but only at their most lovable little foibles—and in the end, their sense of superiority is merely reinforced. After all, they are not like those Stormfront rednecks who can’t laugh at themselves.
Lander’s big giveaway is #50: Christopher Guest Movies, the most smugly unfunny movies around.
Lander’s white self-mockery smells like white guilt: self-congratulation disguised as self-abasement. Pity always involves invidious comparisons: One feels superior to those one pities. Moral self-deprecation has the same quality: One revels in one’s superior self-consciousness. Every stroke of the flagellum is, in the end, just a pat on the back.
But in pointing this out, I don’t want white people to engage in genuine guilt and self-abasement. I want us to take honest and straightforward pride in our virtues, not praise them under the guise of self-mockery. But I also want white elites to wake up and recognize that their hubris and snobbery endangers us all. I hope Lander’s writings might contribute to this awakening, but honestly I think it will take an altogether more savage brand of mockery. God knows they open themselves up to it.
Lander lists 92 things that the “right sort” of white people like. The fun of this book is seeing how well one is reflected in it. (The Dutch translation of Stuff White People like has a mirror on the cover.) I divided Lander’s 92 “likes” into five categories. Here are my scores:
- Yes, I Like: 41
- No me gusto: 37
- Don’t Know: 1 (Thailand)
- Above My Pay Grade: 2 (Ivy League, nannies)
- WTF?: 11 (These are probably things I would know about if I watched TV or went to malls. They include: #26 Adult Swim, #30 Ugly Sweater Parties [I regift all my ugly sweaters], #31 Anthropologie, #44 Roller Derby, #58 Hating People Who Wear Ed Hardy, and #87 Banksy)
My likes include #6 Foreign Accents (as long as they are European), #11 Moleskine Notebooks (wherein the first draft of this was written), #12 Messenger Bags (wherein the former was stashed), #15 Promising to Learn a New Language (Italian is next), #16 Political Prisoners (yes, like Ernst Zündel, Germar Rudolf, and Horst Mahler), #17 Disinfectant (hand sanitizer is a must for travel in Calcutta or New York City), #19 Bumper Stickers (I don’t have a car, but I have bumper stickers, like “Bush: The Only Dope Worth Shooting” and “Annoy a Liberal: Kill, Hate, and Steal”), #35 Vespas, #36 Short Stories (as long as they are by H. P. Lovecraft or Flannery O’Connor), #37 Alternative Newspapers (actually I don’t like any newspapers, but I wrote something for The Aryan Alternative once), #41 Halloween, #45 Appearing to Enjoy Classical Music (and really enjoying it, in my case), #49 Sweaters, #59 Swimming, #83 Taking a Year Off, #85 The Winter Olympics, #89 Old Maps (one of his uncanniest calls), and #90 IKEA.
Food-related likes include: #14 Raw Milk (right down to the glass bottles), #20 Berry Picking, #22 Community Supported Agriculture, #27 Whole Wheat, #28 Sea Salt, #42 Trader Joe’s, #52 Small Batch Soda, #66 Hummus, #68 Heirloom Tomatoes, #70 Olives, and #84 Growing Their Own Food.
The most dead-on funny entries are on things that racially-aware white people don’t like: #24 Self-Aware Hip-Hop References, #53 Black Music That Black People Don’t Listen to Anymore, and #54 Bob Marley. Other stand outs are #60 Google, #71 Facebook, #73 Cult Movies, and #88 Being Offended.
* * *
So what lessons does Christian Lander teach us about our white liberal brothers and sisters? Their white racial consciousness is alive and well. Their white pride is flourishing behind the masks of white guilt and irony.
But while Lander’s “right kind of white people” are extremely secure of their status vis-à-vis non-whites, they are very insecure of their status vis-à-vis other white people, “the wrong kind,” our kind. Thus white racial consciousness will not become hegemonic until the “right” whites start fearing non-whites more and hating other whites less.
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