American progressives are the masters of euphemism. They don’t “censor” books or plays; they “retire” them. They don’t “remove” lessons about the founding fathers from our kids’ curriculum; they “de-center” them. At every turn, they find some friendly-sounding phrase to obscure the illiberal and savage attacks they make on our culture. But one progressive euphemism stands out as uniquely dangerous: whiteness.
Whiteness is a fairly new concept, and indeed, the question of who is white is a complex and fascinating one. For some, it is simply a description of a skin tone. For others, it is a cultural construct meant to oppress non-white people. The definition has changed over time to include Catholics and Jews and Hispanics. But at the end of the day, a white person is still essentially a person of European descent.
These latter two definitions are certainly how today’s progressives view the affair. To them, white people are first and foremost the beneficiaries of centuries of systemic racism that created a culture and society that is not only inherently racist but also beyond redemption. This is why they speak so often of the need to “deconstruct” or “destroy” whiteness. They seek to remove whiteness from our institutions and policies.
They tell us things like individuality, work ethic, and perfectionism are whiteness. They tell us to change how we teach math — make is easier, more narrative, less quantifiable, so as to remove it from whiteness and give other kids a chance, as if black kids can’t understand math. They assure us we swim in whiteness, we breathe it in. It is poison, they say, and so long as it lingers in the American air, there are others that cannot breathe.
Let us set aside, for now, the merits of these specious arguments and get back to this idea of euphemisms. When progressives say they want to dismantle “whiteness,” they want you to believe they mean some complicated sociological phenomenon. They do not. They mean “white people.” They mean they want to dismantle the lives of white people. This is a critical thing to understand because if you don’t, you are already playing their game.