The students’ union in Trinity has a new president, one Shane De Rís. He apparently doesn’t like me (or indeed himself) very much. “I want this to be the last time four white male candidates stand upon this stage. I will refocus the SU to make sure it represents all students in Trinity,” he proclaimed at some place or another. It might be worth examining a statement like that and seeing where it comes from and where it might lead.
I’m not going to suggest President-elect De Rís actually meant it. He apparently thought he was the best man for the job, despite his unbearable masculine whiteness. The thought did not originate in his own head; nobody uses “male” as a noun in normal conversation.
Chances are he’s noticed that he’s not in Indonesia and that anything that happens in a 93% white country is probably going to involve some white men. What everyone else gets up to is not for President-elect De Rís to decide.
More fundamentally, however, is the fact that this kind of talk is not ideal. Though it is not yet particularly risky in Ireland. The rest of the world could be on fire and we’d just play Saints and Scholars on the sidelines, re-enacting the fall of Rome. It could be fun, sanctimoniously shaking our heads at the savages beyond the seas, tut-tutting and praying for their souls. Still, we should not encourage foreigners’ more dangerous and short-sighted tendencies.
Is there anyone in Ireland who checked “White Irish” on the last census and therefore feels some sort of identification with lighter-skinned people in Germany, France, Italy or Finland? There might be a few but come on. How many are we talking here, a hundred? Two hundred in the whole country?
Jared Taylor, an American white nationalist who believes white Americans should just abandon everyone else and set up an ethnostate in the Pacific Northwest, gave a speech in Dublin a few months ago. He noted approvingly that Ireland was “startlingly white,” and discussed something he called “The worldwide brotherhood of Europeans.”
If only someone had informed the IRA and UVF that they were in a worldwide brotherhood of Europeans. What a silly bunch they were. People will of course form alliances with whatever works. You’ll find Palestinian flags all over the more republican areas of Derry and Belfast, and Stars of David flying beside Union Jacks a few hundred metres away. The British embassy to Iran is on a street named after Bobby Sands and there are probably a few AK-style rifles still knocking around in the hands of organised crime syndicates, left over from massive Libyan donations to the Provisional IRA.
It is in less-irrelevant parts of the world where things might be more precarious whenever this race rhetoric is used. Over in the USA and to some extent in Britain, a pathological obsession with race has been springing back up over the last ten years or so, like some sort of weed that just won’t quit. You would have to be completely unhinged to think encouraging the growth of this weed was a good idea. If people hear something enough times they might be tempted to believe it.
Chris Rock’s latest offering on Netflix includes a few harmless jokes about “what whitey do.” They’re funny. Meanwhile, outside the realm of comedy, serious institutions are peddling things like:
Queer black marxist feminist political economy in a white-supremacist heterosexist-homophobic capitalist patriarchy (by a lecturer in economics at the University of Missouri – Kansas City)
Whiteness and Everyday Leisure (a meditation on coffee and The Guardian by a Professor of Music, Leisure and Culture at Leeds Beckett University)
The Perilous Whiteness of Pumpkins (a collaboration between the University of British Columbia and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, examining “how class, gender, place, and especially race are employed in popular media and marketing of food and flavor”)
And a PhD dissertation from Syracuse University which claims that “”African-American” and “Black” are not only racial designations, but they are political locations.”
I invite you to consider for three minutes what the world would look like if normal people took this kind of thing seriously. What would the world look like if people actually, truly thought that everyone of a similar skin tone, bone structure or eye colour had common interests which were opposed to everyone else’s? “Better not call the police on my white brother over there”, “I’ll blame the nearest black guy”, “I was about to help dig your car out of the snow but then I noticed your eyes were brown, sorry”.
Would the world be a better or worse place if you and your friends were currently loading up to deploy as militia in South Africa, preparing either to help appropriate the land of white farmers or defend the same land, roaring “COME AND TAKE IT IF YOU DARE” amid a storm of bullets?
Will the USA become a happier, more prosperous country if it continues the way it’s going? If one day, with the Constitution thrown in the bin, with skin colour predicting voting patterns, with no common story, it finds that it is a number of vague racial collectives, characterised by deep mutual distrust, who just happen to occupy the same part of the world?
Has that ever ended well? Is it possible to conceive of that ending well?
This pathological cultural tide sweeping the world may be too big to hold back. Maybe all is lost. We can start somewhere though. We can each decide that we aren’t going to join this reckless, genocidal, suicidal identity game.
If the alternative were taken to its logical conclusion we’d all end up eating each other.
Maybe that’s not a good enough reason to keep a hold on our worst instincts but we should at least give it some thought.