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.
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 rageA book White Rage: The Extreme Right and American Politics by Martin Durham is available from Amazon.
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.
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.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.
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.
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?
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...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:
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.
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.