NOTE: I will be discussing Senator Webb's op-ed with Tim Wise on AM760 Wednesday morning at 8am Colorado tim (10am ET). Tune in online or on your local radio dial.
Between the Arizona immigration and ethnic education brouhaha; the slandering of Shirley Sherrod; the Fox-trumpeted New Black Panther Party story; Democratic Sen. Jim Webb and conservative New York Times' columnist Ross Douthat each penning inflammatory articles insisting whites are oppressed, this summer will likely be remembered as the resurrection moment for the Cult of White Victimhood.
Indeed, hysterical white people are all over the media screaming to whomever is listening that white people are under attack in America.
The key word here, though, is "resurrection," for this hysteria is nothing new, as author Tim Wise points out:
In every generation whites have hyped fears of black anger, black bigotry and the supposed desire of African Americans to exact revenge on whites. From fears about slave rebellions, to claims that integration would lead black children to knife white children in the hallways and rape white girls, to paranoia about Obama's secret plan for "white slavery," the cult of white victimhood has long had its charter members. Sadly, nowadays the cult has the attention of the media and a white public already anxious about changing demographics, the presence of a black president and economic insecurity. Unless the targets of their race-baiting (including the President) show the courage to push back and expose them for the venal fear-pimps they are, their methods will only get more extreme, their lies more bold, and their ability to inflict lasting damage on the nation more definitive.
This is undeniable, and the Right knows it - which is why anyone counters the racism by pointing it out for what it is, conservatives instantly try to boomerang the charge back into their own white victimhood, claiming that they are being unduly vilified as bigots. As Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi reports:
At every Tea Party event I’ve gone to, the scene always devolves in one of two directions: either everybody trades stories about the corruption of Charlie Rangel or ACORN or Jeremiah Wright or some other notable nonwhite villain, or else a group therapy session breaks out in which everybody shares their harrowing experiences of being unjustly accused of racism. Once they reach one of those two destinations, they camp out there, conversationally, not just for minutes but hours.
As a political tactic, this is the beauty of the circular logic of White Victimhood for white people - all roads inexorably lead back to whites allegedly being oppressed. That is, until more voices more forcefully unpack the true racism and bigotry against people of color that all of this represents.