Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jul/10

24

Jim Webb and the “dark matter” of American diversity

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Jim Webb has returned to his populist roots in an op-ed in The Wall Street JournalDiversity and the Myth of White Privilege. Webb is the author of Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Of Scots-Irish descent himself he is explicitly conscious of the diverse streams within Anglo-America, outlined in more scholarly works such as Albion’s Seed and The Cousins’ Wars. An underlying superstructure to the sectional conflicts which have erupted over the arc of American history, with the Civil War an exemplar, has been the divisions across the Anglo-American folkways. Most modern Americans, schooled only in the value of racial diversity, or vaguely aware of the massive wave of Southern and Eastern European immigration between ~1900 and 1924, remain totally ignorant of this ethnic “dark matter.”


Webb on the other hand is well aware of this ethno-history. His body of work suggests that he views himself as a spokesman for the marginalized Scots-Irish, who have traditionally been looked down upon by the Anglos of Greater New England, and the sophisticated cosmopolitans of the Mid-Atlantic. 19th century ethnographic descriptions of Scots-Irish settlers from the Upper South in the Midwest by Yankees plainly were informed in part by a deep prejudice against them (though to be sure the empirical reality is that the Yankees were a more advanced folk in relation to the Southern Scots-Irish in all the things that we moderns value). Webb himself is in many ways atypical of his people, ascending to the elite and having a voice which is anything but marginalized. His current marriage is to a Vietnamese American woman who was born abroad. In the above op-ed Webb is arguing against affirmative action precisely for individuals such as his youngest daughter, a child of the global elite. It redounds to his credit that he made no reference to his personal life to insulate him from the inevitable accusations of nativism and racism.

8 comments

  • John · July 24, 2010 at 4:01 am

    I’m shocked that a sitting senator would have the guts to write something like this, and doubly shocked that a Democrat wrote it. Nice job, Senator Webb.

  • Author comment by David Hume · July 24, 2010 at 4:25 am

    well, this is not a big surprise from the author of born fighting. but, it is a huge surprise from a democratic politician at such an elite level. i’d assumed webb had become a ‘lifer’ in politics.

  • RandyB · July 24, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Could this be Step One at actually IMPLEMENTING post-racial America?

    The issue he left out is whether women belong in the diversity coalition. Their political support for it is what keeps in viable. OTOH, since the historical legacy of discrimination doesn’t pass down between generations by gender like it does for race (girls have just as many mothers and fathers as boys), a good case can be made that women no longer need targeted advancement, either.

  • Snippet · July 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Turnku Varjadan(sp??) has recently argued that Charlie Rengel is “toast” in part because he election of a black president has made it harder for black bums to hide behind their blackness and use it for cover. We have proven we will elect a black man to the highest office in the land, so we don’t need to protect black losers out of guilt.

    This seems plausible (if highly speculative), and I wonder if this dynamic isn’t at least partly responsible for Mr. Webb’s very refreshing candor.

  • Le Mur · July 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Nice job, Senator Webb.

    I’m happily surprised that a politician was honest!

    a good case can be made that women no longer need targeted advancement, either

    Nobody ever needed “targeted advancement” in the first place; the idea is a modern socialist fad.

    BTW, I gotta love the phrase “targeted advancement,” it’s seems to be an even more misleading and insidious term for “discrimination based on race and sex” than “affirmative action.”

  • Devon Dene · July 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    If even 15% of Scots-Irish followed Webb’s example, pretty soon there would be no Scots-Irish.

  • Author comment by David Hume · July 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    didn’t know that scots-irish ancestry was so fragile! actually then, there’s almost none, since in the USA very few are “pure blood” in any case.

  • Randall Parker · July 30, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Unless the Scots-Irish want to fight in the next US civil war I do not expect their desire to fight will find much outlet.

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