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Why The Left Wants To Capitalize “White”

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The Washington Post made a surprising announcement last week: it will now capitalize “White.” This seemingly minor change speaks volumes about the changing discourse on white identity and how whites fit in a multicultural America.

Many newspapers have changed their style guides to insist on the capitalization of Black, but most have refused to do the same for white. “White doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does,” the New York Times argued in defense of its policy. The consensus declared black Americans are a people, but white Americans are not.

Washington Post disagreed, and said both are distinct ethnic groups.

Stories involving race show that White also represents a distinct cultural identity in the United States. In American history, many White Europeans who entered the country during times of mass migration were the targets of racial and ethnic discrimination. These diverse ethnicities were eventually assimilated into the collective group that has had its own cultural and historical impact on the nation. As such, White should be represented with a capital W.

Both Leftists and conservatives were outraged by this decision for the same reason: whites aren’t real and this encourages white nationalism.

Conservatives were arguably the loudest voices decrying the change, which is odd considering they’re supposed to defend the traditional America built by white culture. Some conservatives attempted to do a “flight from white” argument to deny whites exist. They either claimed they’re part of an ethnic group that was once supposedly not considered white (Italian/Irish/etc.) or that their ethnic group matters far more than their skin color. The problem is that many of these conservatives claiming the superiority of ethnicity over race (which doesn’t exist in their minds) are mutts who were raised far from any Little Italy.

The most hilarious example of this mindset comes from Washington Examiner writer Jerry Dunleavy. Dunleavy denied whites are a distinct cultural identity and relied on his ethnic background to make his case. “I am an American of Irish, Italian, German, Polish, & Spanish heritage. Each place certainly has a distinct cultural identity, and I was raised embracing Irish & Italian culture in particular (music & food respectively). Never once have I considered there to be a ‘White’ culture,” he tweeted. Essentially, he claimed occasionally enjoying Irish drinking songs and eating ravioli is a sign he’s Irish and Italian, not white. It was truly an Amerimutt moment.

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Most white Americans share Dunleavy’s experience. They are so mixed and divorced from the old ethnic communities that they adopt whatever identity seems the most authentic and cool. Few Americans call themselves English because no one knows what it means to be an English-American anymore. Everyone knows what it means to be an Italian-American; the Italian-American identity is celebrated across our culture. It’s much cooler and more real to white Americans than Anglo identity. Yet, white American culture and identity is Anglo. We speak English, we uphold the rule of law, most of us are Protestant or Prot-influenced Catholics, our folk music is derived from the British Isles, hard work is prized, and corruption is abhorred. Most of American history is the work and ideas of Anglos. Most white Americans have assimilated to this Anglo culture, despite their protests that family pizza night shows they’re more Italian.

It’s not the average white American’s fault they feel this way; the entire culture tells them whites are bad and you don’t want to be white. Only neo-Nazis would be proud to be white. Most whites just see themselves as individuals without a race. They have no collective interest and white is just their skin color. Even the ethnic identity upheld by conservatives to flee from white identity is simply a window ornament that doesn’t mean anything to the conservative. It doesn’t define their life or make them feel part of a larger whole — it’s a cop-out from facing reality.

This “flight from white” is primarily a defense mechanism to defend oneself from the negative consequences of being white. Whites get shafted in university admissions, job hiring, and in moral stature. Saying you’re not white because you’re Italian or Spanish gives you the chance to escape from the limitations of being white. It may also save you from the moral blackmail non-whites impose on whites.

The Washington Post capitalized White not to encourage a positive identity, but to promote a negative identity that makes it easier for non-whites to guilt trip whites. “No longer should white people be allowed the comfort of this racial invisibility; they should have to see themselves as raced. Being racialized makes white people squirm, so let’s racialize them with that capital W,” wrote black historian Nell Irvin Painter in a July op-ed for the Post.

Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility and the most popular source for Left-wing racial thinking, similarly believes whites should see themselves as a racial affinity group. “It is crucial for white people to acknowledge and recognize our collective racial experience,” she argues. Most Counter-Currents readers would wholeheartedly agree with that sentence, but DiAngelo is not pushing for a positive collective racial experience. Whites should unite around their shared sense of guilt and atone for the wrongs they’ve done to other races. The point of a collective white racial affinity group is to ensure no whites escape from this burden and they all acknowledge that they are lesser beings to POC.

Washington Post “global opinions editor” Karen Attiah supported the decision to capitalize White for the same reasons. Attiah says it reminds whites of their white privilege and how they benefit from systemic racism. Attiah is viciously anti-white and openly desires revenge against white women for being Karens and voting for Trump.

Whites retreating to colorblindness (“race isn’t real!”) or long-discarded ethnic identities likely won’t allow them to escape. POC set the discourse and mock attempts to say you’re Irish, not white. Whites will have to pay reparations even if their ancestors arrived after the Civil War. All whites equally share the guilt of America’s white supremacist past, according to the White capitalizers.

There is an unintended upside to this new framework. The Left’s insistence on racial categories will inevitably lead to more whites having a positive racial consciousness. White pupils who are taught in school that they have a culture and identity based on their race will likely take the logical course of being proud of that identity. They will emphasize the achievements and greatness of whites rather than our supposed sins. They will recoil at the abuse and unequal treatment they face for being born the way they are. Leftists intend for them to feel bad about this, but most whites will have the opposite response. That’s a good thing for our cause and could serve as the catalyst for a new ethnogenesis.

Conservatives will impotently cry that identity politics are bad and the real solution is for everyone — blacks, whites, Asians, and Hispanics — to all abandon racial identity and just see themselves as individuals. That’s never going to happen. Non-whites benefit immensely from this new paradigm and have no reason to give it up. This message only appeals to whites.

Individual white Americans must decide whether to embrace white identity or flee from whiteness entirely. Our enemies aren’t inclined to honor the second option.

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  1. Viv
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    I think this is a positive development for the reasons stated in the article. In their bones, very few whites are ashamed of being white. What they lack is the moral courage to be honest about that fact. The people grabbing onto older ethnic identities are usually writers or other people who could be punished if they expressed white pride.

  2. John Wilkinson
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    In this case, the “conservatives” like little Ben Shapiro get it right. White people being allowed to have a racial and cultural identity will bring about stronger identity politics for Whites (and yes I’m going to start capitalizing it). Obviously, little hat wearing Ben isn’t going to be happy about that.

    Makes me wonder if “the tribe” will finally pick a race to identify with, and actually assimilate, i.e. dispense with the shapeshifting and “fellow white people” nonsense when it benefits them and then denying whiteness when it benefits them a different way.

    • Kolya Krassotkin
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      The horrible things that have occurred in this country are only consequences of the most horrible thing of all: Letting people like Little Ben and the rest of his duplicitous ilk get their hands on the levers of power.

  3. Stephen Phillips
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I have always capitalized White, and have no intention of doing otherwise. …

  4. Afterthought
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    When Herbert Spencer of Social Darwinism fame toured America he quipped that America would become the greatest of all European Descended nations, because by blending the various European nations together they would be improved by hybrid vigor.

    That blended humanity is White America.

    • Mike Ricci
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Spencer was a little too optimistic, there.

      White Americans have done many things adequately, but it’s a pretty mediocre bunch overall.

  5. Nemesis
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Very good article, thank you.
    I just wish you had capitalised White (I always do).
    BTW: the UN has designated August 9 as “international indigenous people day”, so “Patriotic Alternative” in England has decided to join the celebration with the “White Lives Matter” slogan. ????????????
    Let’s join them!

  6. Irmin
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    In 1944 H.L. Mencken wrote an interesting essay touching on the successful campaign, back in the 1920s, to capitalize “negro.” As a result, blacks eventually got their most common group designation capitalized, while “white” remained (until now) lowercase in mainstream publications. Capitalized “negro” broke the rules of English usage, which writers back then took seriously, so it was a significant political victory.

    Today this old debate seems odd, since “negro” is now only a couple of notches beneath “nigger” in offensiveness.

    From the opening paragraph Mencken’s essay:

    When the New York Times announced in an editorial on March 7, 1930, that it would capitalize the word Negro thereafter, there were loud hosannahs from the Aframerican intelligentsia, for (with an exception to be noted) they seemed to be convinced that lifting the word out of lower case would also give a leg up to its bearers…. The surrender of the Times was hailed as a crucial victory in the long war, and when it was followed three years later by that of the Style Manual of the Government Printing Office, which sets the style for the Congressional Record and is generally followed by other government publications, there was a renewal of the rejoicing.

    Many of the small number of people who still write “negro” assume that some old rule demands that it be capitalized, but in fact “Negro” (as I learned from Mencken) came about as the result of black political activism.

    Mencken quotes an articulate black critic of “Negro,” who pointed out that southern (and hence, perhaps, segregationist) publications were more sympathetic to capitalizing “negro” than northern publications. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that racialist whites in the 1930s were more prone to accept the new rule than liberals.

    I was planning to provide a link to Mencken’s “Designations for Colored Folk,” which has become topical at this historical moment, but the University of Virginia has removed the text from its website. It was there a year or so ago, but it likely became irredeemably “racist” at some point in the last two months. Since Mencken discussed the word “nigger,” which is a designation for colored folk, he naturally *wrote* the word “nigger,” which the university’s scholars apparently now find too disturbing.

    Washington Post disagreed, and said both [black and white] are distinct ethnic groups.

    Dr. Pierce started encouraging “White” and “Black” in NA publications about forty years ago, for the purpose of emphasizing the physical reality of racial categories. The Washington Post has finally got around to following his advice, though for different reasons.

  7. bobby
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    “Leftists intend for them to feel bad about this but most whites will have the opposite response.”
    As the German dramatist, philosopher and poly math, J.W. von Goethe observed, “Every thought evokes its opposite.”

  8. Mike Ricci
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    The whole thing is stupid and personally I don’t care either way. Wapo is all about progressive propaganda, just like the majority of media, and they deserve to be ignored. In a way, it’s better that media refuses to capitalize White because it shows what we’re up against.

    FWIW, “White” is not an ethnic group — nor is it something that even unites Whites, but there’s no point in debating that with the enemy.

  9. Nihilunder
    Posted August 7, 2020 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    Either both are capitalized or neither of them are. I am unwilling to compromise on this. After the decision was made to capitalize Black but not White, I saw some reports that auto-correct was capitalizing Black on some devices so I started capitalizing them both. The whole thing is so PETTY to me, but I do what I can.

    Regarding positive identity, a lot of pro-reparations advocates don’t seem to realize that in order for White people to think they are responsible for their ancestor’s transgressions, they must think of themselves as a distinct group that is connected to those ancestors in a way others are not. Some seem to be learning that they can’t have it both ways, so they try to cover by saying White is an entirely artificial category designed to exclude; when someone makes that point, I tell them no, White is just the combination of WHG, EEF, and ANE lineages that are indigenous to Europe.

  10. Ankur Garg
    Posted September 8, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Stories involving race show that White also represents a distinct cultural identity in the United States. In American history, many White Europeans who entered the country during times of mass migration were the targets of racial and ethnic discrimination. These diverse ethnicities were eventually assimilated into the collective group that has had its own cultural and historical impact on the nation. As such, White should be represented with a capital W.

    This somehow suggests that a group has to have been discriminated against for it to constitute distinct cultural identity.

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