Wednesday, July 20, 2011
One of my friends voluntarily attended an event recently, one that I wouldn't go to for a million bucks (well, mybe a million bucks). It was called Erasing White Privilege.
My friend, whom I'll call Andrea, sat in a room with other whites on one side, and people of color on the other. Then the whites sheepishly confessed any real or imagined offenses perpetuated against a person of color.
After the whites tried to atone for their guilt, the people of color got involved: yelling at them, preaching, and discharging much rage. Andrea's rendition of the events reminded me of those angerfests that were popular in the '70s.
Back then, people would pay to be in encounter groups, where they'd holler and smack each other with foam bats. The idea was that by releasing anger, everyone would feel better.
But guess what the research eventually found? By raging at another person (whether he deserves it or not), our anger doesn't dissipate; it grows. And the deleterious effects are not just emotional. Blood pressure rises and muscle tension increases, promoting hypertension and musculoskeletal pain.
But the studies don't matter; these days it's all about white guilt and minority rage. And the endgame isn't reconciliation and racial healing. We're living in a creepy age where revenge is the order of the day, where the left wants to seize power under the lofty guise of justice.
Personally, I have never had a moment of white guilt in my life. Now this is a significant statement given that I am Jewish and from New York. I feel guilty about pretty much everything!
But I feel guilty about what I do — or don't do. If I inadvertently hurt a friend's feelings, if I am ill-mannered to a clerk, if I disappoint my husband, I can find myself drowning in a sea of guilt and shame.
But guilt because of the color of my skin? Guilt because some white person in 1960s Selma, Alabama refused to allow a black person into his restaurant? Guilt because while my relatives were being raped and pillaged in Russia, a small minority of white people owned slaves (as did, by the way, some free slaves)? I might as well feel guilty about the train wreck that is Casey Anthony simply because she and I share the same race, gender, and sexual orientation.
The idea of collective guilt is not just absurd; it's evil. It's saying that all Jews were bad because some may have committed some injustice in Germany, circa l940. It's saying that all Israelis are responsible if someone injures a Palestinian. Or that all whites are culpable for the actions of others 50 or 150 years ago. Collective guilt is a notion that is so laser-focused on race, it is actually racist.
It's also anti-God because no legitimate religion preaches culpability based on race or gender. According to Hinduism and Buddhism, we each reap what we sow karmically. Christians and Jews believe in individual accountability for sins on Judgment Day.
Of course, many religions have twisted things around, with liberal churches and synagogues promoting the notion of white guilt. There's a reason for this: it's safer to hide behind the behavior of an entire race than stand naked before God. I sure wouldn't want to be Bill Ayers or Bernadine Dohrn the day they arrive at the Pearly Gates (if they make it there at all).
It's so much easier to merge with the crowd, to assume that God will be placated by über-recycling. How sobering to realize that we will one day be judged by our character and our faith — not whether we voted for Obama.
But if this age is all about guilt and confession, I have a burning question. Why isn't everyone required to confess their political sins? If I'm supposed to sit in a room, and tearfully confess, Oprah-style, about every judgmental thought I've ever had, why aren't people of color required to do the same?
Frankly, I wouldn't mind an apology from the black kids in middle school who taunted and threatened me because of the color of my skin. I'd like a big "I'm sorry" from the gangs of black girls in high school who, enraged by forced busing, mowed me down in the hallway. And for when I went to the Arab Market in Israel as a teenager and seven different Arab men, in seven separate incidents, grabbed my private parts, I'm more than ready to hear an apology.
And I'm also waiting with bated breath for apologies from the following: the black dude in pre-Giuliani Manhattan who fondled me in a similar way; the black man in Berkeley who mugged me, leaving me with a black eye and broken nose to die (I didn't) in the middle of the street; and the countless black men in Berkeley who have called me a "f___g white b___" when I didn't give them spare change.
But I don't want an apology because of white privilege or black privilege, or any such nonsense — but because it is wrong to molest, mug, or otherwise violate another human being — no exceptions! This has nothing to do with race but everything to do with about human decency and consideration.
But in Obama's America, there's little human decency to be found. The rules have changed, and they consist of the new three Rs: rage, revenge, and reparations. And this malignant game of Blaming Whitey will go on and on until we call it what it is (hate), walk away from the table, and refuse to play.