Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sky Is Not Falling

White guys, especially conservative ones, must really feel under attack. As Pat Buchanan passionately declared to Rachel Maddow why he thought that 108 of the 110 Supreme Court Justices had been white:

White men were 100% of the people who wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, in this country, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans who had been discriminated against. That's why.

Never mind of course that land was taken away from indigenous non-White people; that Africans were shipped in as slaves; that other nations were conquered for their resources and strategic worth; that generations of African Americans, immigrants and other people of color have provided the blood, sweat and tears that built and continue to strengthen this nation. And yes, alongside good hard-working White men.

Yet the urgency and anger they feel hit home when a mild-mannered, seemingly socially progressive but fiscally conservative White friend, who had never reacted to any of my online postings, retorted to something I had tweeted.

The tweet posted on Facebook: Surprise! Another hypocritical & adulterous traditional values pol. And guess who his housemates were?

To which this gentleman volleyed: Congrats. I'm happy for you. Hope you can celebrate a bit tonight.

I replied: Just pointing out the hypocrisy of those who think my relationship is an abomination and less than theirs and who oppose granting me rights & privileges straight Americans take for granted.

Perhaps he simply has had enough of my advocacy but I ought to have added that this was not a personal attack on him, that I do not think all conservatives are the same.

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson may as well have been talking about White conservatives at large when he acknowledged that many Episcopal conservatives might feel isolated at the moment.

Progressives stayed around and in the Episcopal Church for 30, 40 years when we were the minority, and our voices weren’t heard, and we were pushed out. I think a lot of them have never felt what it felt like to be in the minority. A bunch of straight white guys are now sitting there and having that experience, which is something I think could be valuable for anyone to experience.

The thing is, I can and do empathize with those who sense seismic social and cultural shifts and who feel as if they are under siege, picked out and discriminated against. Been there, am there and will still be there for some time. But change is good. Particularly this kind of change in which more people are welcomed to the table. White people are not losing their place, just making a little room for others to share in a still quite large and abundant room.

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