Class Warfare Blog

August 8, 2017

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall …

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 8:05 am
Tags: ,

I just read an essay (“Unlearning the Myth of American Innocence” by Suzy Hansen) that absolutely wowed me. (Wow!) The topic: what it means to be white in America or possibly to be American in the rest of the world. Profound, disturbing, and highly recommended.

We don’t seem to see this kind of piece in the US, instead we have to read The Guardian to find such gems.






  1. Excellent indeed. I’d love it to be an exclusively American problem, but alas :/
    Years ago when I was still at school I had a fascinating conversation with a student from Africa. He was complaining about racism in Spain and being stopped by the police on the street (stopped and searched). My instinct as a young man was to jump to their defence. “The police has never stopped me on the street. Not once.”
    He smiled and said “exactly.” Instead of leaving it at that, I kept going.
    “Well, they never stop *me* because *I’ve* never done anything wrong!”
    Of course he then pointed out a whole number of little illegal things from drug use to speeding I had indeed done. So there it was, I was innocent and he was guilty and the facts had no place in the perception. Before exceptionalism is national, it’s regional, and it’s personal.


    Comment by The Pink Agendist — August 8, 2017 @ 9:49 am | Reply

    • Yep, it devolves to “us” and “them” at some point, but we have these systems: judicial, military, educational, etc. and they accomplish little in the way of expanding one’s viewpoints. It has always been shocking to me that our military has been a force for integration (of Blacks, women, gays, LGBT, etc.) as much as any other organization. These are people who spend a lot of time in an “us and them” universe … maybe they just need recruits.

      Learning about white and male privilege has been difficult for me. I am tall and white and well-educated and very little bad has happened to me. If I had been treated, instead, like most Black Americans describe, I would be dead now as I would have said or done the wrong thing. You are white and handsome and well mannered, and … immune to much of what people of color encounter so you have had much of the same experiences as have I. We really should be libertarians, you know. :o)

      On Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 9:49 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 8, 2017 @ 11:52 am | Reply

  2. She sure was a sheltered little white middle class American girl with no social conscience. Circumstances such as living and going to school abroad, watching the Civil Rights movement, and the War in Vietnam, gave me a very different outlook.


    Comment by Guy Brandenburg — August 9, 2017 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

    • For that matter, most people are in her camp. I was. Going away to college was a big experience and a real education for me.


      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 9, 2017 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  3. I wasn’t born in the US, so I instead experienced a different country version of “our country is the best in the world, we are the only ones who are truly free”, and so on. In that version, the US was #1 on the list of enemies.
    I guess that made me forever skeptical of any kind of patriotic education, especially when it’s based on unelaborated and unsupported assumptions like “we are the best, the freest, etc.”.


    Comment by List of X — August 12, 2017 @ 12:54 am | Reply

  4. Would that we all could experience seeing our country through the lens of another. In the past I felt that the U.S. was one of the less jingoistic of countries; now I am not so sure. I do not understand why it is important to people to hear that they are living “in the best country in …” whatever. If someone praises something you have made, I can understand pride being felt. If someone praises something you bought, maybe they are saying you have good taste and that could be appreciated. If someone praises where you live … ? How much did you contribute to making that? Are you expressing good judgment/taste by being born where you were? It is puzzling.

    Maybe it is a test, like the pledge of allegiance. Chant “We’are the best, we’re the best! and see who joins in and who doesn’t. Whenever the pledge of allegiance is repeated, I am respectful and do not join it. I took the pledge long ago and see no reason to repeat it. It is a signal in my mind that I do not approve of endless repetition of that pledge. No one has noticed so far (at least that I have noticed).


    Comment by Steve Ruis — August 12, 2017 @ 7:34 am | Reply

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