“The white man pathology: inside the fandom of Sanders and Trump”

“For people who love to dwell in contradictions, the US is the greatest country in the world: the land of the free built on slavery, the country of law and order where everyone is entitled to a gun, a place of unimpeded progress where they cling to backwardness out of sheer stubbornness. And into this glorious morass, a new contradiction has recently announced itself: the white people, the privileged Americans, the ones who had the least to fear from the powers that be, the ones with the surest paths to brighter futures, the ones who are by every metric one of the most fortunate groups in the history of the world, were starting to die off in shocking numbers…
What white people crave — more, they require it, they require it to live — is an alibi from their whiteness, an escape from the injustice of their existence. There are various alibis available depending on how much stupidity you can tolerate. You can say to yourself or to others that black people are stupid and lazy; you can say that you don’t see color; you can call your uncle a racist so everybody knows you’re not; you can share the latest critique of brutality on Twitter with the word THIS; and now you can tell a friend that she really has to read Between the World and Me. Because that Dream of Whiteness, the dream of treehouses and cub scouts that tastes like peppermint and smells like strawberry shortcake, is a perfect alibi. Who lives that dream? Somebody else may live it but not me, not anyone I know, no one I could see in Burlington. That’s a dream that belongs to somebody else. Always to somebody else…
The ultimate alibi is ignorance — it lies closest to innocence — but if you can’t manage ignorance, craziness does nearly as well…
The same specter of angry white people haunts Saunders’s rally, the same sense of longing for a country that was, the country that has been taken away. The Bernie crowd brought homemade signs instead of manufactured ones, because I guess they’re organic. They waved them just the same. They were going to a show. They wanted to be a good audience. The fundamental difference between the Trump and Sanders crowd was that the Sanders crowd has more money, the natural consequence of the American contradiction machinery: rich white people can afford to think about socialism, the poor can only afford their anger…
In medieval monarchies, the state required the existence of a double body, one for the real world and one for the symbolic. There was the flawed and mortal body of the king, which wept and shat and screwed and died, and then there was the Body of the King, sacred, pure, indestructible. Race gives us all double bodies, “double consciousness” in WEB Du Bois’s phrase, whatever you want to call having to live mortally through the judgment of others. The new white distortion, the sickness at heart, the pathology, may simply be the arrival of the awareness of two bodies: the dizziness and nausea that arrive with the onset of double vision.”

This was interesting for me to read — a Canadian man’s thoughts on his whiteness while experiencing the current intensity of American populism as organized around two older white men. This last line I pulled.

In many ways, this was exactly in my politics and exactly some stuff I wanted to read, so there is that skepticism and that reason to avoid absorbing it fully. But I am so curious about how white people understand their own racial identities, and this was so delightfully well written.

Like this passage — “The view of American politics in Fun City is snug despair. It is despair not just at who happens to be in power but at whoever could ever be in power. It is despair not simply that the system is broken but that any system, imaginable in the current iteration of the United States, would turn out to be just as broken. The choice is a choice between impotence and coercion. The response was not revolution but a shrug.”

This is such a depressing election; it’s so fueled by anger, fear, and cynicism.

Related: “President Obama has a theory about why people support Donald Trump. But he’s wrong.

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