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Harmful blowback from white supremacy

Melvin B. Miller
Harmful blowback from white supremacy
“No way I’m going to give up my Obamacare and join the Alt right!” (Photo: Dan Drew)

Since the election of Donald Trump, the concept of white supremacy has been often in the news. Some people think of it simply as a synonym for bigotry, but that considers only the harmful effects to racial minorities. Often ignored is the damaging impact on whites.

Much of world history is about the conflicts between different ethnic groups. The development of Christianity was supposed to alleviate the hostility and violence between tribes. Churchgoers remember with pathos the biblical story of the Good Samaritan who aided the stranger wounded by thieves on the road. The Samaritan had taken to heart the Christian injunction to “love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Unfortunately, human society developed with those outside one’s tribe being recognized only as aliens. They are the “others” for whom the rest of us have little compassion or concern. The spirit of the Good Samaritan has not taken hold. And what is worse, American society is so competitive that people want to feel assured that they have higher status than others.

About half of the immigrants from Europe to America in colonial times came as indentured servants. By the time their terms of service were completed, many were replaced by slaves from Africa. For many former Europeans, this was the first time they were not at the absolute bottom of the social register. Undoubtedly, this was a step up that they did not want to relinquish.

This situation served the Founding Fathers. Among the 57 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 41 owned slaves. Their early political battle in the republic was to maintain support for the practice of slavery. Sen. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, one of the leaders of the Confederacy and the Civil War, preached that all white men were brothers. There were only two classes, he asserted in a speech in 1849, blacks and whites, and the whites “… the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class …”

From the birth of the nation, the concept of white supremacy was established to justify the inhumanity of slavery. Committed slavers like Calhoun even asserted that slavery was beneficial to blacks. But abolition won and the Civil Rights Movement outlawed racial discrimination in employment, education and places of public accommodation as well as denial of the right to vote. Nonetheless, white privilege continues to provide opportunities for some whites.

As more blacks have access to better education, the foundation for the concept of white supremacy has dissolved. What is left is the mere delusion of superior white competence. It is now nothing more than a device for the oligarchs to destroy interracial political solidarity. It is well and good for the super-rich to view other whites as brothers, just as Sen. Calhoun inferred, but their brotherhood does not put bread on the table for many white families.

The time for whites to fantasize about the white supremacy is long gone, and no effort will be able to resurrect it. The more significant issue is the common interests beyond race that affect everyone’s economic status. The privileged who deny everyone affordable health care and a livable minimum wage, among other interests, insist that out of white solidarity, white American citizens should support policies that are detrimental even to their own interests.

An estimated 76.9 percent of the U.S. population is white. In order to be in the top 5 percent tax bracket, the household income must be $214,462 or greater. According to the Tax Foundation, about 6,829,286 tax returns were filed recently for that bracket. With a white population of 248.5 million, it appears that white supremacy is not financially rewarding for most people. Do the math.