Thought for Thursday: White Privilege


My husband doesn’t have a facebook profile, so as a consequence, he rarely sees the memes that make their way around the web (unless I send them to him, of course).

Yesterday, I came across this one, and I remember thinking (with no small dose of bitterness) that truer words have rarely been spoken.  I’ve been engaged in a couple of different conversations about the use of the word “terrorist,” and about how that word has become synonymous with “Middle Eastern” in the last decade or so, and in the most polite of these discussions, I’ve been accused of being a “guilty liberal” who is afraid of language (which I think is kind of ironic, given what I do for a living, but whatever).

My beloved came home from work yesterday on a tear.  There had been numerous – and patently false – reports that a suspect had been arrested in the Boston bombing case.  Several of those reports indicated that the suspect in question was of Middle Eastern extraction (in fact, seemingly moments after the blasts, there were reports of a Saudi man being detained for questioning (which also turned out to be false) and this lovely little exchange on Twitter – notice the time stamps)


The truth is that we’re just as good at creating terrorists here as we are at encouraging them abroad.  Let’s not forget that James Earl Ray and Byron De La Beckwith were white guys.   Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were white guys.  So was Jarred Laughtner.  So was Scott Roeder and Jim David Adkisson and James W. Von Brunn and James Holmes.  So was Ted Kaczynski and Bruce Edward Ivins.

Shall I go on?

The fact of the matter is that one’s national origin has exactly zero to do with one’s propensity to commit acts of terror.  That we continue to allow the kinds of associations that I’ve been seeing (and continue to see) only perpetuates the violence, fear, and hatred.  Stop it.  Stop making assumptions about facts not in evidence.  Stop lumping people together because of how they dress or their accent or their immigration status – and stop others from doing that when you witness it.  We’re better than this; we HAVE to be, or we’re going to destroy ourselves.  If we can’t figure this out, perhaps that’s no less than we deserve.




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8 responses to “Thought for Thursday: White Privilege

  1. Pingback: Thought for Thursday: White Privilege by Mrs. Chili | The Professor

  2. I was at a table with four other people about a month ago. One of them, a seventy-six-year-old woman, was describing a recent bus trip, and made mention of the “ni***r” sitting behind her. After a beat, during which time I determined she’d actually used that word, I proceeded to go up one side of her and down the other. (In a remarkably calm and respectful manner, I might add.) The others, who range in age from fifty to fifty-two, sat, slack-jawed, watching me.
    I was almost as upset by their lack of motivation to do similar as I was by her racism. I’m not tooting my own horn, I’m giving an example of the shameful intolerance of the perpetrator, and the equally shameful – and, to me, more telling – tolerance of her statement by the other three. Sadly, I think it’s rampant.

    • I found the purpose of this post to be one of reminder: Not all people who comment such acts are of Middle Eastern flavor. In light of recent events — I believe this post still holds firm. The first thing I head as soon as it happened was that it must some Middle Easterner. But that is not true as noted by the examples of actors noted.

    • Brandon

      Eddie – Yes, while they are not from the Middle East, to echo Bryan below, it’s the ideology, and I am not surprised that it appears that Islamist beliefs around jihad were the motivating factors.

  3. Evil triumphs when good people do nothing, Ellen. You are a light in the darkness.

    I have a reputation for being a “loudmouth” and a “trouble maker.” I wear those labels proudly. I will NOT be a bystander, and I have committed my life to making sure that the children who come into my sphere understand how desperately important it is for good people to do SOMETHING.

  4. Brandon

    So, now that there have been more developments in Boston and we have one dead and one on still on the run, are they considered white in this whole scenario?

  5. Bryan

    Melanin doesn’t matter. Ideology does. It’s a fallen world, and that applies to all people.

    That having been said more people are deprived of human rights in Muslim-dominated societies than anywhere else because might makes right. All terrorists aren’t Muslim, and all Muslims aren’t terrorists.

    The IRA, Basque separatists, Timothy McVeigh, etc. prove that. However, if you’re playing the percentages when something blows up in Boston, Mumbai, London, Madrid or Kabul odds are strongly in favor of one ideology being involved.

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