With 2013 coming to a close, Salon Editor at Large Joan Walsh reflected on the year as one in which the white grievance industry became “bigger” and “uglier.”
“[Fox News host Megyn] Kelly and [Duck Dynasty’s Phil] Robertson and kindred spirits like Sarah Palin charted a bold new civil rights frontier in 2013: fighting for the right of white people to say false, stupid and bigoted things without facing criticism, let alone paying any real penalty,” Walsh writes at Salon in a Monday column.
Walsh explains that from Kelly’s assertion that Santa is white to those who rallied around Robertson, over the holidays it occurred to her that 2013 was the year “white grievance mongering” hit its stride and “victimhood” became a integral part of the industry.
“The new hysteria and hypocrisy was crystallized by one surreal fact: While paranoid white righties were fighting for their allegedly endangered right to celebrate Christmas (with their white Santa), they could watch a ‘Duck Dynasty’ Christmas marathon on A&E, underscoring that there’s neither a war on Christmas nor on bigoted pseudo-Christians like Robertson. But there’s a lot of cash to be made, and fear to be stoked, by claiming both.”
The author of “What’s the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America,” underscores her point by looking back to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin — noting that Zimmerman became a “cultural hero to some of that same paranoid white right.”
“If you have the misfortune of stumbling into the Twitter sewer that is TheRealGeorgeZ’s timeline, you’ll find an exaggerated sense of white grievance (please spare me the insistence that Zimmerman is Latino; he has seemed uninterested in identifying as such, at least publicly, and in any case his Latino heritage wouldn’t necessarily erase his whiteness),” Walsh writes.
She continues by noting that leveraging white fear for power is nothing new and notes her past arguments that elements of those grievances have been rooted more in economic issues rather than racial paranoia — suggesting liberals speak less divisively about race in the process. Still, she writes, this year she realized “that liberals have very little control over the way white people respond to racial change.”
Salon’s editor at large concludes on a positive note, cheering the election of Democrat Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York City.
“De Blasio’s landslide win, among every racial and ethnic group, showed that white New Yorkers are ready to embrace the city’s multiracial future and tackle its lingering racial and class inequities,” Walsh writes.
“I’m going to bet that the de Blasio coalition has more influence, in the end, than Phil Robertson or George Zimmerman, Megyn Kelly or Sarah Palin,” She concludes. “A noisy, paranoid white backlash against racial change may be inevitable, but it will also pass. That’s what scares them.”