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Yesterday, the Washington Post published an opinion by Carol Anderson exploring a driving force behind shootings of black men by white police officers, as well as many actions by some members of a white majority population against the descendants of former slaves and others who look like them.

Quite promptly, teacherken posted an excellent diary calling our attention to it and highlighting its importance.

The comments to date reflect a seething denial of the key term white rage that is the subject of the op ed, as highlighted in its last single-sentence paragraph:

Only then does Ferguson make sense. It’s about white rage.
The term white rage seemed new to me in this regard but also extremely apt as a description for what I am seeing in the news of the day, in the politics of the last decades, and in the comments to articles and blogs all over the internet. Enough so that I think it deserves its own hashtag #WhiteRage to be applied whenever and wherever this dynamic appears.

In addition to the op ed under discussion, Google offered up two previous usages for the term white rage:

The urban dictionary offered a definition:

white rage
Clenching your fists, muttering and maybe getting into a karate stance.

A laughable rate of anger, similar to a child.

Involves turning red and holding your breath.

Todd went into white rage as he got laughed off the basketball court.
After Quinn got pushed down his white rage kicked in,and he got knocked down again.
Reagan was so mad, he was taken over with white rage, then he started crying and we hugged it out.

A book White Rage: The Extreme Right and American Politics by Martin Durham is available from Amazon.
White Rage examines the development of the modern American extreme right and American politics from the 1950s to the present day. It explores the full panoply of extreme right groups, from the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan to skinhead groups and from the militia groups to neo-nazis.

In developing its argument the book:

  . discusses the American extreme right in the context of the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 and the Bush administration;

  . explores the American extreme right’s divisions and its pursuit of alliances;

  . analyses the movement’s hostilities to other racial groups.

Written in a moment of crisis for the leading extreme right groups, this original study challenges the frequent equation of the extreme right with other sections of the American right. It is a movement whose development and future will be of interest to anyone concerned with race relations and social conflict in modern America.

The paperback edition was published in 2007.  Perhaps it is time to read it.  Certainly the op ed in question brings this issue to the wider attention it deserves.

That #WhiteRage deserves attention becomes obvious when I consider that rage is violent, uncontrollable anger, and anger, as we learn in psychology, arises out of fear.  In rage,  out of possibly existential fear, the logical, reasoning part of our mental processes is disabled, and our actions become guided at a very primitive level by our drives for survival.

A suggestion: read the comments you find online with regard to Ferguson, to our President, or to any dynamic situation where "race comes into it".  How many of those comments would you consider tagging as #WhiteRage?  

Tue Sep 09, 2014 at  5:58 PM PT: A new diary  addresses the role of #WhiteRage as amplified by the media in affecting the outcome of potential adjudication in the Michael Brown case.

According to chaunceydevega:

The defenders of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who repeatedly shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown at least 6 times in Ferguson, Missouri claim that “the facts” will clear their champion of any wrongdoing...

Independent witnesses have told the press and federal investigators how Michael Brown was unarmed, had surrendered with his hands in the air, and was repeatedly shot by Darren Wilson. These witnesses are African-American...

The American Right-wing’s defense of the killer cop Darren Wilson is instinctive: it is an extension of a base hostility to the freedom, well-being, life, liberty, and happiness of black and brown Americans.

Normalizing the action of police officer Darren Wilson and dehumanizing or demonizing his African American victim, Michael Brown, is the 21st Century outgrowth of the 19th Century, in which:
Newspapers that branded a lynching victim a ‘black brute,’ an ‘inhuman fiend,’ or an ‘imp of inferno’ were from the start helping to exonerate the lynch mob. In depicting the bestiality of the black man and by contrast the sweet, delicate, and innocent nature of his alleged victim, reporters were courting the fury of their readers and encouraging them to identify with the lynchers…
Well-honed fury and white rage propelled a sworn officer of the law to shoot an unarmed African American who had turned his back and run, then fire six more times when he stopped and turned around with his hands in the air to surrender.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I would note that the more extreme the rage (7+ / 0-)

    the more likely that the rager has had little or no contact with people of a different color or if they have, it is a very negative sort of interaction.  For example, we are seeing prejudice expressed against Muslims along the lines of what we saw expressed against the Vietnamese or the Japanese in other eras.  While it cannot be claimed that those people all have little or no contact, their time among those peoples was usually very limited and their contacts very constrained by military regulations or conventions.

    In either case, whether it is someone who lives in a nice safe lily white suburb or someone who comes back from deployment muttering about "camel jockeys", the psychological mechanisms appear to be the same.  Limited contact with the target of the prejudice coupled with an excess of exposure to negative cultural or racial stereotypes

    •  thank you, entlord (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      howabout, NancyWH, Alex Budarin

      Yes.  I agree.  I'm not sure that holds in #whiterage only because even if one lives in the lily white suburb, one is in frequent vicarious contact through TV, news, and situations that feel quite personal even when they are not.  I think the necessity of having an opinion -- preferably hatred -- toward blacks in this country is pushed at an early age, making the "evil other" much more real than hypothetical.

      ... sed libera nos a Malo

      by GrannyRedBird on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 09:35:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Check out this U of Chicago research... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      involving rats and their willingness to help "strangers."


      The helping behavior depends on previous exposure to the kind of rat.

      •  interesting (0+ / 0-)

        and applicable to potential remediation, but not quite where I was headed with the diary.  The rat model may be quite parallel to the human model -- indeed, social efforts to bring people together outside their comfort zones are quite beneficial among rational people who are open to such.

        The rage I am highlighting may even allow for calm, rational interaction with individuals of the "other" group while retaining triggers that incite rage against nondifferentiated members of the stereotypical "other" group.

        ... sed libera nos a Malo

        by GrannyRedBird on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 09:59:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Please note that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    white with rage or a white rage, are long-standing terms having nothing to do with the phenomenon of privileged racial animus seemingly referenced by the recent usage white rage.

    Do you live in SoCal? Connect! Unite! Act! Join Los Angeles Kossacks. I'm in CA-35. What's your district?

    by benamery21 on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:11:36 AM PDT

  •  Perhaps "Rage" is too extreme, and "Resentment" is (0+ / 0-)

    more appropriate for the general view.

    I see the same phenomenon in Christian Resentment regarding the loss of societal privileges.

    •  Perhaps there are two or more levels ... (0+ / 0-)

      because at least the large number of examples that I have noticed are well over the line into rage, fury, hatred, to the point of willingness to kill or to incite killing or to wish someone dead.

      Christian resentment, yes, I can see that.  What I am calling out is at least an order of magnitude stronger, and not in a good way.  I have similar feelings about male privilege -- and over 50 years of resentment with anger -- enough to damage me but not enough to do violence indiscriminately.

      ... sed libera nos a Malo

      by GrannyRedBird on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 09:46:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A question, Alex Budarin... (0+ / 0-)

      When you see the phenomenon of Christian Resentment, do you see it resulting in specific behaviors directed at individuals, as opposed to a more general ill feeling toward nonChristians?  Or toward specific categories of nonChristians?

      How does this Christian Resentment (a new term to me) manifest?  

      I know I have observed plenty of behavior that might be termed Pagan Resentment directed at manifestations of Christian privilege -- and I can recognize that feeling in myself.  But it is directed at the system, culture, and unexamined assumptions that underlie Christian privilege and only rarely at individual Christians.

      ... sed libera nos a Malo

      by GrannyRedBird on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:11:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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