I recommend this week’s column by Ammo Grrll and agree with the insights she pulls from her pantry. However, her concluding insight raised a question for me.
Here’s her conclusion:
[W]hat the grievance peddlers are left with is a wholesale attack on “whiteness” itself. This might work with a few intimidated college students and guilty liberals, but it is not going to be a winning strategy for the vast majority of white people who will say:
You want success? Here’s the secret to our white “privilege”: Do what we did — stay in school, work for fifty years, don’t do or sell drugs, don’t commit crime, don’t have babies you have no ability to support, and get married. Speaking on behalf of all white people – since virtually every angry black person feels qualified to speak on behalf of all black people — unless you do those simple, “common-sense” things, we are really no longer interested in anything you have to say. The black people who HAVE done these things are doing fine.
Here’s my question:
Should we say something similar to those who peddle grievances on behalf of whites?
Commentators have attributed Donald Trump’s victory to the grievances of certain groups of whites. They are the ones who are said to have supplied Trump with his very narrow margins in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
What are these grievances? For sure, some relate to political correctness, knee-jerk attacks on “white privilege,” and being labeled “deplorable” and “racist” for no good reason. But there was also an economic dimension.
Working class whites, especially those without a college degree, feel they have been ignored by the powers-that-be and left behind by their policies. Trump’s forgotten men theme pitched this narrative. So did his positions on trade and immigration. In Trump’s view, the working class is being left behind in significant part because the ruling class makes bad trade deals and immigrants take jobs from American workers.
It may be that trade and immigration policy, coupled with stifling government regulation, are almost entirely to blame for the parlous situation faced by many white workers. But we know that the white family structure isn’t nearly as strong as it once was. The out-of-wedlock birth rate for whites is higher now than the black rate was in the 1960s when illegitimate births among blacks so alarmed Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
We also know that drug abuse plagues white communities as well as black ones. And whites reportedly are contributing more than blacks to the epidemic of disability claims which is taking an inordinate number of Americans out of the work force.
There’s a chicken or egg issue here. Is white family structure (to take just the first of the social ills discussed above) deteriorating because a segment of the white population has been left behind? Or has that segment been left behind because its family structure is deteriorating?
Of course, the same issue exists with respect to blacks, and arguably more acutely. For example, has black family structure crumbled because blacks have struggled economically or have they struggled economically because of bad family structure?
I don’t know. But whether we’re talking about whites or blacks, my tendency is to blame, rather than excuse, social pathology. Thus, in my view, Ammo Grrll’s concluding message to grievance peddlers who attack white privilege is also a valid message to those who peddle white grievances.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t alter trade and/or immigration policy; I take no position about these matters here. It just means that there’s very likely more than just these kinds of issues — and more than technological change — at play in the decline of the white working class, and that a look inward might not be amiss.