Strakon Lights Up, No. 113

Still too many white people
   A homily for the new St. Martin's Day


One time when I was a copy-wretch on the newsdesk of an Indiana daily, and I had a rare moment to come up for air, I spotted a magazine for journalists lying about the newsroom that featured this cover story: "White Men Don't Leave." It was a take-off, of course, on the movie title "White Men Can't Jump." The resultant grinding may have inflicted some permanent damage on this white man's dentition.

"White Men Can't Jump" referred to white males' genetically based inferiority in playing the game of basketball as Negro males had redefined it. But "White Men Don't Leave" referred to what many, at one time — back in the days of America — would have considered a virtuous superiority: persistence, patience, career commitment, steady performance over the long haul, stability in general. It just goes to show you that in today's anti-culture, you can't win for losing, assuming you're a white male. (The phrase also reflected the plain biological fact that men, even modern testosterone-impaired white men, are still unable to get pregnant, so they have to keep working.)

The "can't jump" satire came across as smugly contemptuous because the blacks were on top in basketball; in contrast, the "don't leave" version reeked of clenched-fist hostility because those darned persistent white men were perceived as being on top in the newsroom. Racist sexist homophobic reactionaries that they were, they were refusing to quit and go on welfare, or make themselves over as ponytailed grief counselors, or just drop dead of a coronary, in sufficient numbers so as to make room for all the "new people" who were pressing to take over American journalism at the newsroom level: primarily blacks, Hispanics, Progressive Wymyn, and "gays." (For my Martian readers, I should explain that "white male," as a category of Progressive derogation, does not include "gays" who are white males.)

Wishing to postpone my own fatal coronary, at the cost of degrading my reputation for virtuous persistence, I fled daily journalism the first chance I got; and I've lost touch with the progress of the war on that particular front. But in the meantime another front has opened up. Once again the Progressive forces have upped the ante. Now the unstated premise is that if the "new people" for whatever reason aren't trying to push in, and push whites out, that's a problem in itself. Or at least that's what I take from an AP story that appeared late last year on the front page of an area newspaper, bearing this provocative headline: "Indiana lacking in diplomas, diversity, and dollars." (Huntington Herald-Press, Nov. 25) According to AP writer Rex Huppke:

Compared with surrounding states, Indiana has a lower percentage of college-educated residents, a lower mean household income, and a higher percentage of divorced men. [Sic: there is no mention of divorced women. Maybe Illinois has more openings for waitresses.]

The state is also less diverse than its neighbors, and in fact has the sixth highest percentage of white people of any state in the nation.

Now hold it right there, son.

Detectable immediately, in both headline and lead, is the unexamined assumption that a lack of "diversity" is necessarily some kind of social or economic problem. I'll get to that, but before I do, notice something else that's just as weird: the unexamined assumption that "diversity" can mean only one thing to all Progressive humyns. And that's everyone, right?

Well, not quite everyone, not yet. As a regressively inhumyn Hoosier, I think Indiana is already awfully diverse. I mean, it's both a Great Lakes state and an Ohio River state, with all the cultural and economic diversity that that implies. It's a state with one big city, several medium-sized industrial cities, many small towns, and lots of farms. For Hoosiers in the north half, oriented toward corn and soybeans and auto plants, the fact that the southwest quarter is littered with coal mines and even oil wells is unutterably exotic. I don't know whether it's still true, but not too long ago Indiana was the country's leading producer of both steel and popcorn. (All right, I admit this is starting to sound like one of those sadistic films that they tortured us with in fifth grade, but stay with me if you can.)

The Hoosier Heimat is a Yankee state in the north half and a Dixie state in the south half. There are ineradicable pockets of Yellow Dog Democracy and True Blue Republicanism, reflecting (among other things) the fissure during the Late Unpleasantness between ferocious Copperheadism, on the one hand, and the Lincolnite fanaticism of dictator-governor Oliver Morton and his minions, on the other. There's quite a bit of mushy moderation as well, unsurprisingly, and scads of swing voters. I know, I know, the differences between the modern ruling parties don't amount to real diversity, but it looks pretty real when you compare Indiana to outright People's Republics such as Massachusetts and D.C. (It's funny how those one-party fiefdoms are always celebrated as showplaces of diversity.)

Some years before the War Between the States, give or take several thousand, the glaciers called it quits and ground to a halt halfway down the state (just south of Indianapolis), which means that the north half is flatland interrupted by a scattering of modest hills, with relatively few trees, while the south half is characteristically hilly and heavily forested. The topographical differences exert their own influence on Indiana cultures: the flatlander and the hillman just don't look at the land and sky and themselves in the same way. Despite a half-century of Bicoastal TV, differences in accent persist; and there are even differences in dialect. Natives of Grant and Huntington counties, in the northeast, often describe the over-inquisitive as being "nibby"; folks down in Evansville, in the southwest corner, would probably reckon their cousins up in snow country were comparing their nosy neighbors to some kind of cookie.

So much for intramural diversity. If you're interested in the question of Indiana's uniqueness with respect to other sections of the Empire, I'll rest my case upon a single wondrous incarnation of Hoosier Man's questful dreaming: the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. (Lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and pickle; or ketchup, onion, and pickle. Mustard! — what air ye, an Ohio Borderman?)


One thing we know the Progressives don't mean by "diversity" is diversity of opinion.

Seeing their tendentiously limited definition of diversity, and seeing that they expect everyone to understand the limitations implicitly, and reflexively endorse them, we are entitled to ask: Just who is it, again, who is obsessed with race, ethnicity, and gender? Libertarian philosopher Ronn Neff once wrote:

Libertarians are often accused of not caring about social problems, of caring only about economics. But during the most creative years of the libertarian movement in [the 20th] century, its opponents formulated virtually all their objections to free societies in terms of economics.... Libertarians spent much of their intellectual capital and much of their time refuting those objections — over and over. And their reward today is to be accused of caring only about economics.

This sort of thing is the intellectual equivalent of a bully's pounding a hapless victim and then crying, "He started it!" Hostile aliens and deracines have declared a war of race and ethnicity against white Westerners and the civilization we built, and, the moment we point out that such warfare is taking place, our reward is to be accused of caring only about race and ethnicity.


The AP's Huppke reports that Indiana's population is still 88 percent white. An even worse social problem, according to Sandra Leek, the state bureaucrat in charge of forced amalgamation, lies in the fact that "more than 70 percent of the state's population was born in Indiana, so many were raised in homogenous environments." (Paraphrase by Huppke.) Gasp! Not homogenous environments! As a result, says Leek, "What you have is a lack of awareness to [sic] different religions, ethnicities, races, and other minority groups."

So what? Blank out. Leek doesn't explain, nor does Huppke. Perhaps we are supposed to connect, in some way, the state's relative scarcity of college graduates and relative plenitude of divorced men with its lack of "diversity." However, while some kinds of "diversity," in the Progressive sense, would probably raise those graduation statistics, other kinds would certainly lower them. And some kinds of "diversity" would certainly fail to solve the problem of too many divorced men, unless it were taken to be a solution that, for many more couples, the entire issue of divorce could never arise because they wouldn't have gotten married in the first place.

It's more likely that elite-managed, state-enforced "diversity" isn't really intended to be instrumental for anything nowadays (except our dispossession, of course). Rather, it's just a categorical imperative, sufficient unto itself. According to Huppke, both Leek and Lieutenant Governor Joe Kernan believe that "changing the state's economy" and "opening [it] up to the global economy" will increase diversity. But notice that that's just the reverse of what Bill Clinton was always saying: he claimed that propelling Laqwan and Lakeesha into the executive suite, willy nilly, would enable us to compete effectively with the "tigers" of Asia and the Pacific. At least that was some kind of argument, however productive of mirth (especially, one supposes, in "diversity"-impaired Tokyo and Seoul). Now, however, the Progressives have transformed "diversity" from a mere instrument for accomplishing an ultimate goal to an ultimate goal itself. "Diversity" is Good, intrinsically and self-evidently. In the ancient days of Clinton we pursued "diversity" in order to trade more effectively; now we pursue trade in order to accomplish "diversity."


The Progressives' "homogeneity" is just as tendentious and wrong as their "diversity." But let us assume that Hoosier culture is homogenous. I'd have thought a much worse problem than homogeneity, even with its distressing ignorance of the folklore of Bangladesh, was white Hoosiers' — and other white Westerners' — growing ignorance of their own history and culture. And I'd have thought the worst problem of all was white Westerners' growing hostility toward those very things of which they are growing more ignorant.

What I want to know is, how in the world did we ignorantly "homogenous" white Westerners ever produce the scientific and industrial revolutions that lifted us out into the Solar System and lifted other human communities out of the Bronze Age, if not the Stone Age? How did we ever come up with the ideas of individualism and limitations on government? Habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence? Equal liberty and the rule of law for all, regardless of ethnicity? The symphony? The novel? The painting and sculpture of the European Renaissance? The university in recognizable form? However did it occur to us, as it occurred to almost no one else, that slavery is wrong?

If those be the wages of homogeneity, let us make the most of them. But first, I fear, we'll have to earn them all over again.

January 20, 2002

© 2002 by WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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