Friday, March 24, 2017

A Reader Writes: Trump's Election Is "White America's Dorian Gray Moment"

The following response by Dulcis Memoria to yesterday's discussion of the Princeton seminary controversy is so powerful that I want to lift it from the comboxes here and share it with all of you as a posting. Dulcis writes, 

This is analagous to the people on the left saying we need to "reach out" to rural Trump supporters in order to understand their point of view and perhaps bring them back into the fold. 
What nobody is mentioning is that only white liberals and pundits (beside Van Jones) are charging us with this responsibility. Besides the obvious reasons of personal relationships and familial ties, I have a theory for why this is. 
I have been calling this election period "White America's Dorian Gray Moment." What I've realized is that, even good, liberal, non-racist white people still believe in the illusion that "we're the good guys!" The election was so traumatic for many whites because the illusory curtain fell, and they were actually able to see their fellow whites the way people of color and other vulnerable populations have seen them all along. Frankly, they were shocked at the breadth, scope and proximity of the rot in their midst. 
Dorian Gray remains beautiful for public consumption while his true image rots in private. The portrait, locked away from prying eyes, pays the price for his eternal youth. The few times he actually regards it, he must take in the horrors that have ravaged his true self: age, license, cruelty and dissipation. 
I feel that something akin to Dorian seeing the portrait is happening to American whites. It's interesting to note that the majority of the false equivalency mavens are the ones least affected by the injustice. Thus, it is easy to keep one's powder dry and only address the issue in the abstract. These are the same people who call their rabidly conservative relatives "good people." 
To my white brothers and sisters, I say to you: It's time to decide. Is America a White-Nationalist country? Do you stand with people of color, especially African-Americans whose disproportionate contribution to this country has made this country great? Do you stand with the USA as it presents itself with all of its diversity? Do you stand with LGBTQ people? Do you recognize that this is and has always been a country of immigrants, which necessitates the need to stand with immigrants. Do you stand against anti-semitism and the pernicious spread of neo-fascism? We already know the answer if we're speaking about white Evangelicals and most white Catholics. 
As I've said to Bill before, if you're only nice to people who look, think and believe as you do you're not really a good person.

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