Whiteness theorists argue that racism is peculiar to whites. The sole purpose of whiteness, they claim, is to create a society in which whites benefit from an unearned privilege at the expense of people of colour.
As I pointed out in a recent article, this puts whites in a vulnerable position. The last thing you want, in a modern liberal society, is to be identified as the group preventing the final achievement of human equality:
Whiteness theorists are creating a picture of whites as a “cosmic enemy”: as a force in the world standing in the way of justice and equality. Groups who are regarded this way shouldn’t be surprised to find themselves targeted for removal. Here, for instance, is the “solution” of Dr Noel Ignatiev, a Harvard academic and whiteness theorist, to the “problem” of whites:
"The key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race."
"... The goal of abolishing the white race is on its face so desirable that some may find it hard to believe that it could incur any opposition."
I'm not alone in recognising the dangerous logic of whiteness studies. It has been remarked on too by someone on the other side of politics, who is himself committed to a radically leftist anti-racism.
I'm referring to a radical activist by the name of Pete Spina. In an article published in March 2006 he establishes his leftist credentials as follows:
I am white (3rd generation Irish and Italian American) and am an active anti-fascist and anti-racist. I am an anarchist.
Spina complains that he is increasingly hearing from fellow radicals the idea that "the color of racism is white" - that racism is peculiar to a white identity and to the maintenance of white privilege.
He criticises the logic of this view. First, it means that racism isn't connected so much to "unequal or oppressive social dynamics" as this would mean that non-whites could also be racist. Since non-whites (supposedly) can't be racist, then unequal social dynamics can't be the defining cause of racism. Instead, the existence of "whiteness" has to be.
Spina then observes:
A contradiction arises: anti-racists confront racists and racism with the ultimate intent of ending racism. If racism is determined by whites, then the only solution to racism is a solution to whiteness. [my emphasis]
For Spina, this is a dangerous idea as there are those who hold to what he calls an "extrinsic view" of race who might target whites violently:
the Extrinsic argument says that whiteness is both a social and a biological construct, not simply a social one, therefore any solution to whiteness would have to include a biological "solution" to retain consistency in the Intrinsic view ... a scary thought that ranges from genocide to eugenics or forced/voluntary sterilization.
Spina even recognises the psychologically unhealthy effect that these kind of ideas have on the Western political class:
If there is no solution to racism other than self-destruction, then self-destruction (or self-righteousness) is all that is necessary. It creates a syndrome of disempowering, self-deprecating white guilt.
... the mindset that racism is due to whiteness alone allows white radicals to play the victim for a time. The new burden of the white radical becomes that of struggling bravely to overcome the oppressive force of white privilege within oneself in a way that dramatizes one's role as victim ...
The fetishization of victimhood, so ingrained in the political fabric of the oldline, and liberal left, has found a clever new way of working itself back into the collective unconsciousness of white radicals.
If Pete Spina can see this as a radical, then we should have some confidence that others too will recognise the defects (logical and moral) of whiteness studies.