Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The White-Privilege Tedium

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Why are current monotonous slogans like “white privilege” and “old white men” finally losing their currency?

Who exactly is “white” in a multiracial, intermarried, and integrated society? How do we determine who is a purported victim of racial bias — relative degrees of nonwhite skin color, DNA badges, an ethnicized last name, or nomenclature with two or three accent marks?

The reason that Arab-, Greek-, or Italian-Americans are more likely to be branded or to self-identify as “white” than Brazilian-, Argentinian, Spanish-, or Mexican-Americans doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with appearance or their DNA or their ancestors’ or their own historical experience in America. It has everything to do with the perversities of the devolving diversity industry in which claims to victimization bring greater careerist advantage or at least psychological satisfaction.

The recent farce involving Elizabeth Warren’s “ancestry” has not only probably aborted her presidential aspirations, but — along with the Asian-American lawsuit against Harvard’s admission practices — also reminded us of the growing corruption of race-based set-asides. Warren’s desperate gambit was simply a response to the new reality that minority status often has little relation with appearance. (Many Latinos — a term never adequately defined — look “whiter” than Italian Americans or Greek Americans who have been absorbed as “white” long ago.)

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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