Sunday, May 29, 2011

A White Male Scholarship?

On CNN, the existence of a scholarship for white males was discussed. It's founder Colby Bohannan is the President of the Former Majority Association for Equality, whose mission is

" fill in the gap in the scholarships offered to prospective students. There are scholarships offered for almost any demographic imaginable. In a country that proclaims equality for all, we provide monetary aid to those that have found the scholarship application process difficult because they do not fit into certain categories or any ethnic group.

Our short term aspiration is simple: Award a $500 scholarship to five individuals that meet or exceed our qualifications on July 4, 2011. Upon achieving this we look forward to giving at least five scholarships for each Spring and Fall semester. Awardees remain eligible for future semesters as long as one's overall GPA exceeds 3.0. Scholarship applicants should be Caucasian, male, demonstrate a commitment to education, and substantiate financial need.

One obstacle that we immediately anticipate is to not appear racist or racially motivated. We do not advocate white supremacy, nor do we enable any individual that does. We do not accept donations from organizations affiliated with any sort of white supremacy or hate group. We have no hidden agenda to promote racial bigotry or segregation. FMAE’s existence is dedicated around one simple principle, to provide monetary aid for education to white males who need it"

I was pleasantly surprised by the supportive commentary offered by the vast majority of posters on CNN and the lack of radical and racist rhetoric. I believe this is the beginning of a significant political shift in the United States. As more states reach a minority-majority status, where no single group predominates, more Americans of European descent will begin to explore the identity politics that virtually every other ethnic group engages in. Currently, the unwritten rule is that minorities can openly promote the interests of their community, whereas whites can only promote policies that broadly benefit the public and can never partake in movements that explicitly seek to benefit their group. In other words, it is considered permissible for Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, etc. to support politicians, policies, scholarships, etc. that explicitly seek to further the (perceived) interests of their respective communities. But, it is considered a grave taboos for whites to do the same, one that only the most appalling racists like David Duke are willing to infringe. The only acceptable options was (for liberals) to support the ethno-political aspirations of minorities, such as affirmative action or (for conservatives) to oppose all ethno-identity politics and promote the merits of individual over group rights. For this reason, environmentalist and tea party rallies are almost exclusively white, while many whites partook in civil rights marches. This scenario is without parallel in history; in every other country and every other culture, majorities have promoted their own interests and under the best scenario, they exercised benign neglect and were indifferent to the affairs of minority populations. In most cases, to varying degrees, the majority was antagonistic to the welfare of other groups.

I believe that paradoxically these unique dynamics can only be sustained with the the continued status of whites as a demographically and culturally dominant majority. When minorities constitute a relatively small percentage of the population, the majority does not feel the effect of affirmative action, contract set asides and other preferential policies. In fact, the majority believes that their prosperity affords them the luxury, nay the responsibility to enact magnanimous policies towards less prosperous minorities. And they feel secure, because  while other groups may be able to create their own autonomous organizations, the balance of power allows for well established institutions and practices to remain relatively undisturbed. But, as in the case of California, when the former majority is reduced to 40.1%, they begin to feel the pinch of preferential policies that place them and more importantly their children at a competitive disadvantage.  When they realize that whites only account for 32% of the undergraduate student body in Berkeley, they begin to question the need for policies that seek to "increase diversity and equity" by relaxing entrance requirements for "protected classes." And when it becomes clear that the new found minority-majority status of their locality has not resulted in a shift towards the pursuit of broad, public interests, it is only natural that they will reconsider their long held political notions. If there is no longer a majority and every other minority groups unabashedly pursues their own group interests, why should whites not do the same?

Ideally, I would like this to serve as a spark for a serious debate on the need for all groups to reject narrow ethno-identity-politics, in favor of the pursuit of the common good. But, since open, honest debate of race and policy is next to impossible in "progressive" California, the people troubled by these developments will "vote with their feet" and move to other states. And I predict in more conservative localities, we will see a rise in expressions of white ethno-identity politics. I believe that these expressions will largely be benign, such as the growth of like minded scholarships. This is a prospect that should not inspire dread, because true racism grows best in the shadows and withers in the light of open, rational debate.

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