Friday, May 1, 2009

accept villification despite creating the modern world

It's actually pretty damn nice to live in this modern world, all things considered. We've got lights that go on and off whenever you want them to, water (cold OR hot) at the turn of a knob, refrigerators to keep our food edible (not to mention plenty of food to keep edible), speedy and reliable transportation across the world, a say (however minimal) in our government, clean hospitals with effective medicines, and general enforcement of basic human rights. Things are quite good. 

"But wait," you say, "what about most of Africa, where many people are without clean water? What about the Middle East, where women are consistently oppressed? What about India, where half of the children don't have enough to eat?" Oh, right. Sorry. I should've been more specific: I meant the modern white world. 

Interesting what's green, isn't it...

It's terrible to have to say so, but everyone knows it's true. Historically white countries are vastly better off than primarily non-white countries. Of the countries with the top-ten standards of living in the world (as measured by the Human Development Index), only one (Japan) is not historically white. You have to go all the way down to #22 to find another one (Hong Kong). Perhaps more strikingly, not a single one of the countries with a low HDI is historically white, and, of the ones rated "medium," only two are historically white. (1)

So why do white countries live better? Well, it's unpleasant to say it, but maybe it's due in part to the white people. For one thing, the vast majority of our modern conveniences were invented by whites. As far as electricity goes, its study was founded by William Gilbert: a white man. The study was continued by Benjamin Franklin, Luigi Galvani, Michael Faraday, George Ohm, Nikola Tesla, and many many more: all white. (2) The modern refrigerator was developed by Carl von Linde, building on work by Ferdinand Carre, James Harrison, William Cullen, and more: again, all white. (3) The first car was invented by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, or Ferdinand Verbiest, or Richard Trevithick, depending on whom you ask, but for our purposes it doesn't really matter which one it was: they're all white. (4)

Of course, the argument could be made that scientific developments do not in themselves mean a good standard of living, and that's correct. Social institutions are also quite important. Look at the big one, for example: democracy. Where'd it start? The Greeks (white, of course) came up with the idea, but our modern idea of it stems largely from Thomas Hobbes (white), James Harrington (white), John Locke (white), Charles de Montesquieu (white), and a whole host of others. (5)  

Despite constant claims of oppression, even minorities live better in primarily white countries than they do in primarily nonwhite countries. African-Americans, for example, have an average income of around $27,000/year in the US. (6) In Africa itself, the per capita GDP of many countries is under $1,000, and even the richest countries do not exceed $15,000/year per capita. (7) These statistics are similar for practically any minority group living in white countries: despite not yet being as well-off as whites, they're still vastly better off than they would be in a nonwhite country. And judging by the rates of immigration, everyone is aware of that.

Despite all of these contributions to the world we live in, whites somehow seem to be the only safe target left. Racism is bad, unless you're pointing it at whites. Take for example the highly publicised comment by economic advisor Robert Reich, in which he said, on public television, without apology, that he didn't want any stimulus money to go to "white male construction workers." (8) This would obviously never have been said about blacks or Hispanics or Asians. There's the simple fact that whites can't really get it right. If they leave minorities alone, they are ignoring their problems and being insensitive and racist. If they try to help minorities, they are being condescending and paternalistic, thus making them even more insensitive and racist. The popular culture portrays white men as alternately bumbling and violent, while portraying white women as airheads, bitches, and sluts. Whites are the only race who are not allowed to be proud of their culture. Black pride? Good for you - have a parade! White pride? That phrase is practically profane.  

For some reason, whites think that they deserve this kind of treatment and allow themselves to be bullied into thinking that whites have never contributed anything to the world but racism and oppression. Well, the opposite is quite true. There are a lot of things white people do, and many of them are worth a little pride.