The moral narcissism of whites who think they care about blacks but only care about themselves

I have a confession to make, which I’ve also made to the author of the excellent blog, Stuff Black People Don’t Like, and it is that I don’t really understand the concept of Stuff White People Like, and its companion concept, Stuff Black People Don’t Like.

However, even I, while I cannot define SWPL, understand that the following statement, by Curtis Sittenfeld writing in Slate (“I Still Love Obama. Love. Love. Love.”), is a prime example of SWPL:

Sure, a lot of the people I know are like me—Whole Foods shoppers, NPR listeners, Slate readers and writers—but I do live in a state where I’d be unable to avoid voters of varying political persuasions even if I wanted to.

For more on SWPL, here is a sample of the writing at Stuff Black People Don’t Like, from an article about the Jon Stewart rally:

In the status-game that white people play in Black Run America (BRA), the intense desire to achieve Black approval is a never-ending game that both SWPL whites and Untouchable whites tirelessly participate in, a Sisyphean task if ever there was one.

Tea Party participants go out of their way to create the illusion of a non-racial based movement, though the heart of the rebellion is onerous taxation that disproportionate goes to pay for BRA. Constantly promoting Black people within their ranks, the Tea Party claims to be 79 percent white, a number the leaders of the movement probably find embarrassingly high.

At the Jon Stewart Restore Sanity rally, the crowd appeared to be whiter than a NASCAR race or a National Hockey League (NHL) crowd. Black people might be the object of both SWPL whites and Untouchable whites affection in their ongoing status-seeking contest, mere pawns in a game of who can pander and acquiesce to BRA with the greatest devotion, but SWPL whites emerge as the greatest hypocrites in this tiresome scrum….

When one juxtaposes the Glenn Beck rally from the late summer with the Jon Stewart rally, the dichotomy of white people in 21st century America is on full display. Both groups comprise completely different world views on issues such as abortion, God, guns, immigration, homosexuality, foreign policy, etc., but both seek Black approval with a fidelity once reserved for Deities.

I disagree with the blogger that whites are seeking blacks’ approval. As I have written before at length, there are three characters in the “script” of white liberal society: liberal whites, non-liberal whites, and nonwhites. The liberal whites embody the principle of good. The non-liberal whites embody the principle of evil. The nonwhites are merely the objects of either white goodness or white evil. They are not themselves moral actors in the script. Therefore their approval does not matter. Whites, by attaching a symbolic black to themselves at the hip, are seeking approval in their own eyes and those of their fellow whites.

As proof of my point, consider the famous photograph of two white men and a black man at the Glenn Beck rally last summer, which is featured in the SBPDL article (and which I commented on at the time):


If these two white morons had any respect for the black man standing between them, would they have treated him as a prop? If they viewed him as a moral actor in his own right, would they have turned him into a symbol of their own goodness? Of course not. And the same goes for the black man. He also is content to play the role of prop or symbol of white goodness.

Posted November 3

Leonard D. writes:

I can define SWPL very succinctly for you: it is the culture of the ruling class. The ruling class is white (duh), although it is meritocratic and does include non-whites. But in that the Stuff Black People Don’t Like author is completely wrong.

Evidently you are not of that class, which is a bit surprising given that you are of Jewish descent, hail from New York City, have an ivy-league degree (or is that not true? I can’t tell from Wikipedia; it just says you “attended” Columbia), and came of age in the 60s or after. (NYC is a big, weird, culturally-diverse place, and used to be even more.)

Similarly, progressivism is the religion of the ruling class. Religion is just one aspect of culture, albeit an important one. And the Democratic party is the political vehicle of the ruling class.

LA replies:

1. You’re not giving a definition. Just saying “culture of white ruling class” doesn’t contain any specifics.

2. On my background: I do not have an Ivy League degree. I grew up in New Jersey, went to Columbia College for two years, then moved to Colorado. Seven years later I entered the University of Colorado at Boulder and finished my B.A. (in English) there.

3. I lived in Colorado from age 20 to 29. That’s where my adult self was formed. So in key ways I’m not an Easterner. When I attended a high school reunion 25 years ago (Columbia High School, Maplewood, New Jersey), all my high school friends and compatriots without exception were doctors and lawyers. They had all gone to college, then graduate school, then entered the professions, while I had been a dropout living out of my backpack and reading books on eastern philosophy, and later became a paleoconservative. They were all members of the Northeast liberal Jewish culture and had that perspective and knew no perspective outside it.

4. I moved back east, to New York City, in 1978, which was quite a culture shock for me, and have lived there ever since.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 02, 2010 09:42 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):