The Hidden Root Of White Rage

Paul Krugman asks a simple question about why white (conservative) people who fly into a rage always seem to do so over really stupid things:

Something that strikes me, however — and which I don’t fully understand — is that when people like this turn to angry rhetoric, with at least a hint of violence, the trigger events tend to be trivial. There are plenty of real grievances that could be motivating working-class whites…

Now, I loves me some Krugman but he’s missing the super obvious here: White conservatives are angry at a racially unjust economic system that has started to treat white people the same it’s always treated black people. It was supposed to benefit them to the detriment of “those” people and it did, decade after decade. White people enjoyed a lifestyle unprecedented in history and managed to deny that life to millions of minorities. But the rich got so greedy that the system is breaking down and now everyone is suffering. Except for the rich, of course.

The end result is that they can’t attack the system they love without admitting how unjust it was in the first place. What are they going to say? “Hey! Where are all the white jobs?!”

On top of this frustration is the cold and horrible (for white people) realization that they no longer have total control over the government. With a black president in the White House, there is zero chance of getting through the kind of policies that used to transfer immense amounts of wealth to the white community while leaving the black community out in the cold. Those days are over and with the rapid “browning” of America, they aren’t coming back.

This leaves us with millions of angry white people betrayed by a system they believed in and supported their entire lives. But to admit that the system was unjust would be to admit that they, white people, benefited at the expense of black people in the first place. Most white people, including liberals, would rather gnaw their arm off to escape this trap. And so they find the most ridiculous and mundane targets for their rage, a rage that should be directed at the system but can’t be. It really is that simple.

Featured image via AI archives