An angry email missive this week from a Floyd County resident claimed I “forget that you are a white man and the white race is under attack!”
His claim violated the first rule of assumptions: When one assumes, without checking the validity of the claim, the person makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”
I’m not white. Damn proud of that fact, I’m about 30 percent native American — Seminole — and while the bulk of my other ancestry is Scottish, some “black Irish” is thrown into the mix.
Uncle Sam considers a “Native American” a race that is not quite white and I’m damn proud of that distinction.
“Black Irish,” by the way, is not determined by skin tone but whether or not someone of Irish blood also has “dark eyes” and “dark hair.” My white hair was black in my younger days and my eyes are brown.
This mixture, of course, would disqualify me from any gathering of the “alt right” world of Richard Spencer, the “white nationalist” who solicits media attention at his offices in Arlington, Virginia, and Whitefish, Montana.
Then again, Spencer also hates Jews, a religion composed on people of many colors, including whites.
“Jews and non-Jews are drawn to debates about whether Jews are white,” writes Yair Rosenberg in The Washington Post. “It’s the sort of question that captivates academics and activists, roping in everyone from Israeli “Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot to African American literary luminary James Baldwin.”
At the White nationalist rally that turned into violence and death in Charlottesville last weekend, a banner flown in the crowd claimed: “Jews are Satan’s children.”
Spencer mocked Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor, Mike Signer, when he said “Little Mayor Signer — ‘See-ner’ — how do you pronounced this little creep’s name?” The crowd shouted back: “Jew, Jew, Jew.”
Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke added to the attacks:
The truth is the American media, and the American political system, and the American Federal Reserve, is dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause.
Spencer runs the white supremacist National Policy Institute and Radix Journal and is a disciple of Jared Taylor, who spouts racism from his American Renaissance web site and publications.
Spencer and Taylor are not rednecks from Appalachia. Spencer grew up in a well-to-do family in Dallas, has a B.A. in English lit from the University of Virginia and a master’s in humanities from the University of Chicago. He left the doctoral program at Duke because it got in the way of his increasing racial hatred.
Taylor was born of American parents in Japan and graduated from Yale.
Both Spencer and Taylor brag about being white and promote the illusion that only purely white folks are important in America — which is reason enough to embrace my less than all-white parts of my ancestry.
Jews are the only “white people” obsessively targeted by white supremacists. So are they really white, not at all or something in between? After Charlottesville, it’s clear we no longer have the luxury of debating the finer points of this question. For the time being, the racists have settled it for us.
Racism, after all, is essentially the result of socially constructed categories imposed by bigots to separate out-groups from an in-group: white from nonwhites, Germans from Jews and so on.
Amy, my wife, is a mixture of Irish and Lebanese.
“I’m beige,” she says proudly.
And I’m part Native American, which means I ain’t white.
Thank God. Please don’t confuse us with any of those troublemaking white people anyway.