by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When white-male progressive journalists denounce white males as a class, I usually roll my eyes and don’t bother to dissect what they’re saying, but writer Freddie deBoer has done a superb job of breaking down what white-male writers are really saying when they bemoan white males.
Citing, for instance, the tweets of David Roberts, a former writer for the lefty young-adult site Vox.com, deBoer notes that Roberts obviously does not mean what he says when he categorically states that “white dudes came to their theories & worldviews not solely through the vigorous application of Reason, but because of where & when they are embedded through history, shaped by forces they do not control or fully understand.” Roberts adds that the notion, which he supports, that “You just think what you think & say what you say because you’re a white guy in the 21st century” is “absolutely maddening to white guys” because it represents “a violation of their deepest self-definition.” (To any white guys out there who may be reading this: Are you “maddened” by what Roberts is saying, or do you merely snort in derision? I wonder if Roberts can tell the difference between rage and dismissal.)
If Roberts believed these statements to be categorically true, it would undermine his value as a thinker as well. If he is a mere feather on the winds of white-male history, tossed this way and that by forces he does not control nor understand, his writing is not terribly useful, is it?
So Roberts is implicitly asking his readers to believe that he is an exception to the rule of the intellectual deficiencies of white guys. But if there are exceptions to the rule, why bother making such a sweeping statement?