Slavery and that Dubious Notion of White Guilt

In the Boston Globe, Foon Rhee recounts that Ralph Nader – independent candidate for president – told the Rocky Mountain News that Obama is trying to “talk white” and to appeal to “white guilt.”

White guilt. That’s a phrase used sparingly by the media, but is de rigueur for inclusion in any spoken or written sentence mentioning race on college and university campuses. That covers just about every sentence spoken or written on college and university campuses.

What is white guilt? It’s sometimes described as the driving force behind affirmative action and other liberal programs tied to race and intended – by those afflicted with white guilt – to atone for the wrongs of slavery.

Being white, I’ve searched my psyche, re-examined my bag of motivations and checked behaviors. I don’t find any white guilt. So Obama’s appeal – as Nader would have it – falls on deaf ears with me.

I don’t know if appeals to white guilt resonate with liberals. Most liberal comments I’ve heard run along the lines of liberals are, by virtue of their liberality, more compassionate and empathic than others (read: conservatives). What agency brands their special degree of compassion and empathy as white guilt, I’m not sure.

I am sure that eliminating slavery should command more attention than so called atonement for past wrongs. Forget white guilt. It’s identity politics we’d be better of without.

Slavery is an abomination, but it is no more limited to centuries past than it’s practice is limited to a particular race or skin color. Slavery still exists and flourishes in many countries, a fact many ignore for all their touted special empathy.

Here’s a view of slavery in today’s world from the U.S. State Department titled Trafficking in Persons Report from June 12, 2007. It’s a bit lengthy but perhaps worth the effort to absorb if you’d like a fresh perspective on that global society so many of us can’t wait to subjugate our sovereignty to.

The State Department places each country into one of three tiers based on that government’s actions and compliance with minimum standard to eliminate trafficking in persons; their preferred euphemism.

The report lists 32 countries that are considered tier 3; the worst offenders not doing much to combat trafficking. These tier 3 countries are involved in one or more of the following:

  • Trafficking people and kids – either within the country or externally – for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, forced prostitution, forced marriages, payment of debts, or domestic servitude.
  • A destination country that is involved in the above actions.
  • Exploitation of forced labor in agriculture and commercial ventures.
  • Subjecting workers to non-payment of wages, threats, confinement and withholding of passports.
  • Harboring children for use as cooks, porters and terrorist combatants.

The primary offenders include Algeria, Bahrain, Burma, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Venezuela. To one degree or other, 139 countries are sitting on their hands, while human beings are ‘trafficked’.

Isn’t that a bureacratic euphemism for sold?