Library Liberals Gaslighting Whitey
Garcia-Febo then discussed the libraries she visited on her Libraries = Strong Communities tour over the past several months and invited members of her diversity advisory team to join her onstage. ALA is creating a series of videos to help libraries with equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives; the first video should be available in March.
The program’s keynote speaker was Robin DiAngelo, a longtime diversity and antiracism educator and author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (Beacon Press, 2018).
White fragility, a phrase DiAngelo coined, refers to the inability of white people to tolerate racial stress. She also calls it “weaponized hurt feelings” and considers it a form of bullying and dominance that allows white people to maintain racial control. “We make it so miserable for people of color to talk to us about our inevitable and often unaware racial patterns” that they often stop bothering, she said.
She listed several of the common phrases and tactics white people use—from statements like “I was taught to treat everyone the same” and “I can’t be racist, I was in the Peace Corps” to tears and hostility—to shut down any discussions about race.
Part of the disconnect is in the mainstream definition of racism, she said, which holds that racism is an event perpetrated only by individuals consciously doing something intentionally mean to a person of color. Instead, she argued, racism—especially antiblackness—is a system that forms the bedrock of our entire society.
Do you see what’s being done here? She is redefining racism as something of which individuals are only guilty insofar as they are white, on the grounds that “our entire society” is constructed on a foundation of “whiteness.”
And if you, as a white person, object to that? Well, that just goes to show how mentally and emotionally fragile you are. In other words, you’re crazy, and don’t have to be taken seriously.
This is ideological gaslighting of the first degree. From the warning signs of gaslighting, via Psychology Today:
10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.
This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.
That this kind of anti-white racism is embraced by and taught to the leadership of American libraries is stunning. What I cannot understand is why people on the left who argue this racist line can’t understand why certain white people reject it.
This is exactly why the left is playing a role in driving young white males to embrace white nationalism, which — let me be clear — is evil. Does it really take a PhD in social psychology, though, to recognize that when you tell people that they are no good solely because of the color of their skin, and when you tell them that from a position of power, that they are going to react against that. In some cases, that reaction will take the form of white racism. How on earth are we supposed to fight against white racism when anti-white racism is valorized within establishment institutions?
Yesterday, driving to church, I heard this NPR interview with Tony McAleer, a former white supremacist who now heads an anti-racism initiative. Excerpts:
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did it work for you? How were you lured into that world?
MCALEER: I wasn’t so much lured. In a way, I went seeking it out. And I’m not saying that to excuse any of the things I did because I’ve done a lot of horrible things. But I’m trying to share with you the lens through which I made those decisions. I grew up in a middle-class family. My father was a psychiatrist. But, you know, I walked in on my father when I was 10 with another woman. And that turned my world upside down. I rejected all the authority figures in my life. I went into sort of rebellion mode. And I went from this A, B student to a C, D student. My parents and the teachers got together and said, well, let’s beat the grades into him. And so they tried to – you know, I got hit on the rear end with a yardstick every time I didn’t get an A or B on major tests and assignments.
And all those times that I spent in that teacher’s office getting hit on the rear end, to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more powerless in my entire life. So I got involved in the punk scene because I was really angry. And then, you know, when I came across the skinheads, they had what I didn’t. And that was toughness. And that’s what drew me to them initially was – my bullying survival skill growing up was befriend the bully, become the bully. And that’s what I did because when I was with them, I was safe.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What I’m hearing you say, perhaps, also, is that there is a problem with the way we teach young men, specifically white, young men, that they need to be in the world, that there might not be a model for them to deal with these difficult feelings.
MCALEER: That’s definitely part of it. I mean, who teaches white men? Most of the time, it’s fathers. And who teaches those fathers? Their fathers’ fathers. And so the thing about, you know, these negative attitudes is they cascade through generations, right? If my father is misogynist, if I observe my father belittling and treating my mom poorly and, you know, he puts stuff onto me, chances are I’m going to continue the family tradition. And, you know, I’ve seen that the way roles are transferred through generations that people and families have to play. The job, I think, we have to do is we have to break these cycles.
It was a good interview, and McAleer does important, necessary work. But ask yourself: will you ever, ever, hear on NPR, or see in The New York Times or the Washington Post, any serious questioning of the role diversity ideology (e.g., concepts like “white fragility”) play in radicalizing white men to the far right? Or, for that matter, the role they play in radicalizing people of color into seeing white people as nothing but a faceless enemy Other?
Of course you won’t, because the people who run those institutions accept that left-wing narrative as an unbiased description of reality. Notice how McAleer went to white nationalism because he felt powerless, and it gave him a sense of power, of agency. This is what people tend to do — black people, white people, all people — when they believe the world is against them. Why do you think ISIS has had so much success recruiting young men (and some young women)? They play on the sense of powerlessness that these people have. Some of it is true (that is, they really do lack power), and some of it is a self-pitying lie (their lack of power is not the fault of the Other, but lies within themselves). The extremists succeed by convincing individuals that all their problems are the fault of the Other.
In this sense, Garcia-Febo and DiAngelo are recruiters into a sophisticated, respectable bourgeois form of extremism. And when their racist philosophy trickles down to the street, it gives a rationale to people like Tony McAleer once was.
I know, slightly, a middle-class young white man who was in no way oppressed. But as many teenagers do, he started feeling sorry for himself, and gave himself over to white nationalist websites. He convinced himself that his hate for other races was justified, in part because of propaganda like Robin DiAngelo’s. Last I heard, he was well on his way to ruining his life.
His personal problems were of his own making. It was not the fault of non-white people. But when racist ideology like DiAngelo’s is embraced by mainstream institutions, which throw away the old liberal colorblind model that post-MLK America was raised with, it becomes much harder to convince angry white kids that the system is not stacked against them.
Robin DiAngelo and Loida Garcia-Febo are the best allies white nationalist haters could hope for. These left-wing idiots are doing the work of white nationalists for them!
Here’s a 3-minute interview with DiAngelo, from the ALA convention: