the possessive investment in whiteness

On the importance of censorship to whiteness in the United States

In the US, the more a person yells about free speech and the second amendment, the more they will support censorship. They will call on the government to police their neighbors and communities. It might sound absurd. When you have one, you have the other. White people aren’t going to like this, but this is a key part of reactionary whiteness. Like blind to racism in colorblindness, they are blind to this explicit contradiction.

The lack of awareness results from a possessive investment in whiteness (ideological whiteness) that, no matter what we intend, white people often nationalize. A lot of white people see a culture war, which is just another way to speak about race war. It’s a liberal code switch that we shouldn’t permit. US evangelical Christians do a lot of bargaining with this violent racism. All the complaints about being marginalized and attacked, the dependence on tax exempt status for thousands and thousands of church businesses, the defense of patriarchy, et al., are a means to bargain with it. On the other hand, new atheists use it, too. They enjoy bargaining with the same power structure but want to demystify it. They’re just as reactionary.

If you know your history, to conflate nation and race in this way is fascist. So, we have fascism to deal with because people are encouraged to feel like they are immersed in a crusade. We must protect our identity (but without being conscious about what that identity itself cultivates.) The identity is soothed with consumerism and upward mobility, but this, for once, is not reliant on capitalist social order.

Crusader rhetoric has been popular in US Protestant communities for decades now. We can see its early forms in documents like the Call to Unity letter white pastors and clergy sent Martin Luther King, Jr., calling him to stop using civil disobedience and to patiently wait for inevitable change. He composed his excellent letter from a Birmingham jail in response. It’s also present in the Christian attacks against homosexual and women’s rights campaigns in the 70s. I have grown up learning to confront and struggle against this campaign.

Praise just showed me the story of a white mom from Florida yelling about students learning about Arabic numerals in a textbook because she doesn’t believe students learning about world history should be studying anything to do with Islamic culture. She may be the latest in a long line of ignorant bigots, but her call to arms is an explicit call for censorship, something she’d likely claim not to support. Promise you this is an issue of freedom for her and the other white parents who pull this shit in districts all over the US.

Censorship makes her freedom possible; it makes her feel safe. Because they’re reactionary, they’ll also tie their claims to guns. White power demands censorship for the freedom of its white subjects and all those who cater to the power structure who aren’t white.