I was a social media monster yesterday, commenting promiscuously on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Among my many offerings were this quote from the author Adam Langer:
I think we need more think pieces about how Hillary didn’t do enough to reach out to these voters.
Several commenters took offense, saying “these voters” — meaning the lunkheads who gathered in the VA college town to display to the civilized world how stupid they were — are not, and were not, the voters with whom they think Hillary Clinton should have connected.
Yet, to a certain extent, they were. “These voters” may not be all of us white people, but their thinking is within all of us white people to one degree or another. Or more accurately, their feeling. Because what they do can’t properly be defined as thinking. They spew words that originate not from the mind but the gut.
It’s simple, really. Once we tried to wrap our little minds around a few complicated concepts — “survival of the fittest,” “the descent of man,” hell, even “evolution” itself — beginning in 1859, we white people have entertained the erroneous notion that light-skinned people “evolved” from dark-skinned people. Ergo, light-skinned people are more advanced than dark-skinned people.
Why, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Dark-skinned people come from Africa, don’t they? And monkeys are black, aren’t they? Hey, two plus two, right?
It’s such an easy logical leap to make that we — each of us who’s white — can be seduced into thinking it’s true. Or — sorry — feeling it’s true.
Because, if you think about it, it’s not true. Emphasis on think.
Sure there are those of you whose back will stiffen and you’ll protest, “I never thought that way!” Or felt that way. Whatever. If so, count yourself lucky — and in a distinct minority. Most citizens of this holy land are too busy paying bills, mowing the lawn, kowtowing to the boss, and watching The Big Bang Theory to pay much mind to the details of Charles Darwin’s and Alfred Russell Wallace’s science.
So the quick conclusion is this: Humans arose in Africa and dark-skinned people live in Africa; so dark-skinned people = proto-humans.
The goons on the streets of Charlottesville believe that canard with all their hearts. The rest of us white people believe it on a sliding scale, a spectrum, as it were. And, yeah, there are those of us to whom it has never consciously occurred. I’m happy for you. Many — too many — of us, though, have to sit down and talk ourselves out of such intellectual fuckery.
As I like to say, our second thoughts make us human.
But, back to those white voters whom conventional thinking has it felt the pinch of the stacked-deck economy and were so disgusted by H. Clinton’s purported refusal to address their concerns that they cast their ballots for a hateful, greed-monkey billionaire.
Talk about quick conclusions and intellectual fuckery!
How about this: We’re all tribal and in-group creatures. We are designed to identify with a gang. That’s one of the many codes hard-wired into our genes. And when there’s stress, when we feel besieged, we fall back on that thinking — because, in an evolutionary sense — that’s why it came about. There’s strength in numbers. Ten of us together have a better chance to survive than one.
The world’s economy today is nothing if not besieging us.
Tens of millions of white people in 2016 felt as though the world was slipping away from them and others — especially those with dark skin — were, with the help of a bloated government, snatching up all the best parts of the bread while whites were left with the crumbs or less. Under such stress, feeling so besieged, they gathered together under the banner of a man who told them in no uncertain terms he’d restore their white-dominated world, a world of the past, a “great” world.
So, yeah, there’s a little bit of those Charlottesville horses’ asses in the vast majority of white people. And nothing Hillary Clinton could have said — other than maybe shouting, White is right! — would have changed their minds.