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The Illusive “WASP Establishment”—Again

Jamie Johnson: Desperately Seeking Status

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That unusual periodical, Vanity Fair, sports a new social chronicler of our illusive “WASP Establishment.” He is young (born 1979) Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson health care fortune and producer and director of two documentaries, Born Rich (HBO, 2003) and The One Percent (2006), both touted by Oprah Winfrey on her TV show.

Though the WASP establishment—assuming, arguendo, that it ever existed—has been dead for a long time, it nevertheless retains a strange and fantastic vitality in the minds of Jews and, through them, everyone else. (Even alive, it was less than impressive. Never mind the Jews—the Irish, too, walked right over it.) In that sense, the idea of the WASP establishment bears a close resemblance to goose-stepping Nazis, Adolf Hitler, and white Christian America.

Nevertheless, it was certainly dead and buried by the time Jewish psychology professor Richard Zweigenhaft and white Marxist professor of psychology and sociology G. William Domhoff teamed up to write the comically-titled Jews in the Protestant Establishment in 1982.[1]

(Domhoff had gotten himself into hot, or at least lukewarm, water in 1967, when his first book, Who Rules America?, labeled any wealthy, powerful Jew who made his list . . . well, “Jewish.” His early books from the 1960s and 1970s, including one on the Bohemian Grove, are still worth reading.)

Anyway, Johnson’s archived Vanity Fair series can be read here:

It launched with “The Decline of the Wasp Establishment,” April 30, 2008 and “The Rising Cachet of Declining Wasps,” May 7, 2008 The latest installment is “Why Are Rich People So Bad at Sports?” May 19, 2009

The series includes such titles as:

“Wasps Stung Over Renaming of the N.Y.P.L,” May 19, 2008 (The New York Public Library was named The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building after a Jewish billionaire tycoon of finance.)

“Stoned, Stupid and Rich, Caddyshack’s Spaulding Lives on in Wasp Enclaves,” December 30, 2008

Myths aren’t facts, which may be why Johnson’s articles are studded with oddities like “Nearly every member of the old Protestant establishment I have spoken with on the subject of the disintegration of their culture has brought up Ralph Lauren. To them, the success of his brand best illustrates the growing popularity of the blue-blood Americana image. The fact that Lauren is Jewish and grew up in the Bronx only reinforces the point.”

At the dawn of the grim twenty-first century, the so-called WASP elite that so fascinates obsessive Jews and others calls to mind nothing so much as James Thurber’s “The Unicorn in the Garden”:

“Did you tell your wife you saw a unicorn?” asked the police. “Of course not,” said the husband, “The unicorn is a mythical beast.” “That’s all I wanted to know,” said the psychiatrist. “Take her away. I’m sorry, sir, but your wife is as crazy as a jay bird.”

She isn’t the only one.


1. The duo later penned Blacks in the White Establishment? (1993), Blacks in the White Elite? (2003) (an extensively revised edition of the former book) and Diversity in the Power Elite (2006).

TOQ Online, May 20, 2009

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  1. Spyro
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Do you mean elusive?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink


  2. Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Interesting insights. It reminded me of a surprising interview that appeared in the DECEMBER 2010 issue of FIRST THINGS. Called “Whit Stillman is Running Late,” it discusses his three hit WASP Indie films. I would post the interview here but I just discovered that FIRST THINGS now requires a password and my subscription number doesn’t work. Anyway, the trilogy looks like it’s worth viewing.

    Also, last night I happened to watch BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT. Very WASP inflected. They even featured some bad non-Whites rather than the typical cast of Numinous Negroes and Evil White Men.

    Finally, because I’m working on Part IV of my “Understanding Hollywood” series for The Occidental Quarterly (it is on Hollywood’s take on the WASP), I hoping someone can remind me of the film in which the wealthy WASPs are absent minded and harmless–except to themselves. I believe at least twice people bloody their heads while walking into something after drinking. It sounds like a Woody Allen movie but I don’t think it is.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      When I watched Whit Stillman’s three movies, I thought: This guy is the WASP Woody Allen. But I also predicted that he would make no more movies. Why? Because, unlike Woody Allen, he will grow up.

      I am glad you liked The Dark Knight. Did you read the Trevor Lynch review?

  3. JJ
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Is status that which Mr. Johnson is seeking or redemption? It seems to me that at least part of these “self critical” examinations are a means to distant oneself from sin yet keep the money so to speak. The narrator is diluting liberal guilt (having it easy) by directing it toward the group of which the person is just one part of. “Yes, it’s time for me to own up, it’s all our fault.” Surely status is involved and Moloch provides the stage but the pattern is too common. Just in the last couple days I read two such articles.
    White middle class kids are responsible for inner city violence, race relations and sexism because the white kids are the ones buying rap albums.
    People who bought the McMansions are responsible for China’s rise to power.
    Fred Reed

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      I was rather pleased with a line about white guilt as a form of self-congratulation in my review of Christian Lander’s WHITER SHADES OF PALE: “Every stroke of the flagellum is ultimately just a pat on the back.”

  4. Andrew Hamilton
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    I took the opportunity to examine a few of Johnson’s articles that have appeared since this was written.

    In a comment about the depiction of WASPs in The Social Network, the Jewish movie about the rise of Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg, he essentially says that the depiction of the WASP elite at Harvard is a falsehood. He interviewed a WASP acquaintance who graduated in 1990 who knew onlyone other contemporary at Harvard with a similar social background.

    Johnson concludes, “In spite of the Protestant Establishment’s eroding stature, it still holds enough intangible allure for Hollywood to want to distort that old presence. And somehow the myth of aristocratic authority survives as more of a dominating ideal than it really is. ”

    About Jewish elitist Elena Kagan’s bumping of the last white Anglo-Saxon Protestant (John Paul Stevens) from the Supreme Court he wrote:

    “Despite prominently placed stories in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among other outlets, the Protestants I’ve spoken to hadn’t heard about the subject until I brought it up. This is so peculiar that I almost wonder if it represents a subconscious avoidance of unwelcome information. . . . The topic clearly hasn’t captured the attention of Wasps, who are far more likely to get worked up over the latest twists and turns in the World Cup. Their reluctance to acknowledge the Court’s evolution probably reveals some genuine feelings of ambivalence among Protestants, but I don’t detect any anger or buried resentment. What I do sense is a passive submission to the inevitable.”

    He also noted the widespread hiring of Israeli thugs (my characterization; definitely not his) as bodyguards by “the rich” (not necessarily WASPs) via the “private security industry.” A couple of Jewish commentors (at the bottom of the page) accuse him of anti-Semitism–the usual asininity.

    And way back in 2008 he wrote about the portrayal of rich heroes in the movies Ironman and Batman: The Dark Knight–as usual leaving the reader somewhat unclear about his point, if any.

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