Privilege theory and the concept of systemic racism dealt the death blow to the détente. In embracing these theories, minorities and progressives broke their essential rule, which was to not run around calling everyone a racist. As these theories took hold, every white person became a racist who must confess that racism and actively make amends. Yet if the white woman who teaches gender studies at Barnard with the Ben Shahn drawings in her office is a racist, what chance do the rest of have?
Within the past few years, as privilege theory took hold, many whites began to think that no matter what they did they would be called racist, because, in fact, that was happening. Previously there were rules. They shifted at times, but if adhered to they largely protected one from the charge of racism. It’s like the Morrissey lyric: “is evil just something you are, or something you do.” Under the détente, racism was something you did; under privilege theory it is something you are.
That shift, from carefully directed accusations of racism for direct actions to more general charges of unconscious racism, took away the carrot for whites. Worse, it led to a defensiveness and feeling of victimization that make today’s whites in many ways much more tribal than they were 30 years ago. White people are constantly told to examine their whiteness, not to think of themselves as racially neutral. That they did, but the result was not introspection that led to reconciliation, it was a decision that white people have just as much right to think of themselves as a special interest group as anyone else….
Furthermore, the ever-present drumbeat from the Left that every conservative victory is the death throes of bad, old white people who are about to be swept away by waves of brown immigration is making many whites dig in. On a certain level, how can you blame them? They are explicitly being told that their values and way of life are under the sword. How do we expect them to react?
Well, they’re all just in the very early stages of finding out. But we will never negotiate with them again. We will never believe them again. The long, stupid, dishonest detente is over. Let a hundred meme-flowers blossom.