I have no idea what Drexel University associate professor George Ciccariello-Maher meant when he tweeted this:
And, really, like Robby Soave at Reason, I didn’t much care what he meant. A college professor who teaches “Radical Studies” said something crazy? That’s about as dog-bites-man as it gets. I thought we should all just point and laugh and move on.
But apparently it’s touched off something of a kerfuffle, especially on alt-right twitter, which has gone a bit nuts, and I think the professor is almost-kinda-onto something. He’s apparently said some other things which are indefensible, and he may be something of an asshole, but his claim that this particular tweet was a joke at the expense of the racist right seems plausible. What he’s saying he meant now — that he was mocking racist conspiracy theorists — may not really be what he meant when he said it, but what he says he meant makes sense, and I agree with it. Bring on the white genocide.
Perhaps I’d better explain that…
White supremacists use a special definition of “genocide” that isn’t what most of us think of when we hear the word. They don’t mean anything as horrendous as the Nazi holocaust against the Jews in the middle of the last century, nor even the various violent campaigns of “ethnic cleansing” or “purification” over the centuries. On the racist right, white genocide does not mean the violent extermination of white people. Instead, it means just about anything that tends to dilute the supposed purity of the “white race.” And they don’t just think it’s something to guard against in the future. They think white genocide is actually happening all around us right now.
This captures the flavor of it:
White genocide is a white nationalist conspiracy theory that mass immigration, integration, miscegenation, low fertility rates and abortion are being promoted in predominantly white countries to deliberately turn them minority-white and hence cause white people to become extinct through forced assimilation.
In other words, these people think State Farm Insurance is promoting white genocide in this ad:
The idea seems to be that there is some kind of essential whiteness, and that it’s something worth preserving. From a genetic standpoint, this idea of racial purity is nonsense. Even the concept of human racial groups in general is a sketchy proposition at best.
The human population can be divided into subgroups based on statistical clustering of genetic components, but these clusters appear to have arisen due to geographic isolation of our ancestral populations, and the boundaries between these clusters lack sharp delineations, suggesting continuous migration and interbreeding. Furthermore, the traditional human racial groups (whites, blacks, asians…however we’re dividing up humanity today) tend to be collections of somewhat arbitrarily chosen sets of these clusters, often made up of clusters that are actually very diverse. In fact, within-group diversity is much higher in human racial categories than the statistical differences between the categories. And also…oh, never mind. The point I’m making is that human genetic classification is all just a big muddle, and as modern humans escape geographic barriers in greater numbers than ever before, interbreeding will only make it even less clear.
I guess that’s what’s got white nationalists so upset, isn’t it? The idea of a white race, which was never a very meaningful concept, is becoming even less important in our modern age. And even if “white race” was a useful concept with real scientific meaning (like one of the well-defined dog breeds, say) it would still only ever be a statistical property of human population genetics…which sounds like a pretty dumb hill to die on.
Especially at such a high cost to individual freedom. A white friend of mine joined the Army and was stationed in Korea, where he met and married a lovely Filipino woman. They’re here in the U.S. now, and they have two wonderful children. Other white friends of mine have adopted non-white children, some of them from overseas. I’m white, and I don’t have any children. I also support a more open immigration system. According to the white supremacists, we are all victims or participants in the ongoing white genocide, and they want us to change our ways.
To these racists, white genocide lurks in our freedom to choose when to have children, and how many to have. White genocide is in our freedom to choose where to live, and with whom. It’s in our freedom to choose who to love, and our freedom to form the families we want with the people we want.
To me, that makes the white supremacists’ idea of genocide sound like a pretty good way to live. And there’s no reason to limit it only to white people. So in the spirit of the season I would like to extend this heartfelt holiday wish to all my readers: Embrace the genocide.
If you’re marrying outside your ethnic group, or raising children you’re not related to, or not having children, or you’re immigrating from other countries, or you are otherwise forming a family that does not conform to a racist fantasy, my hope is that you enjoy your good life. You are individual people, not a population. Your happiness and that of those you love is far more important than preserving some arbitrary statistical properties of human genetics. You owe your “race” nothing.
Damn anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.