Thursday, September 11, 2008

That Sweet Double Victory

A Review of "What White People Like"

I have been reading the new bestselling satire, Christian Lander's "Stuff White People Like." ( It has a wince per page rating of about three. He does not lampoon all whites, but the sort of liberal, college educated American-ruling-class totally distinguished non-conforming conformist kind of white person -- hence the subtitle "The definitive guide to the unique taste of millions," the sort of person who buys into every rebel sell going, at least until too many other whites buy into it, at which point they go after new stuff. The author admits in an interview on this site that he is talking more about a particular generation than a race; when asked "Is the blog really about race or is it more about money and social status?" he replies,

"It's partially about race, but it's fundamentally about class. It's about a generation and class that values authenticity and credibility more than monetary wealth."

So if you are over forty-five you are no longer truly white, it seems; at least Lander does not satirize your taste in music, though most other cultural relics are recognizable. This is a younger generation of the incredible whiteness of being. His assertion that every white person has read Fast Food Nation applies to me, though. He satirizes our love for farmer's markets, which I only wish were universal among whites, and all other races and classes.

Nor does he neglect whitey's religion: the second essay in the book is on the decorative brand of spirituality that passes for faith. This is of interest to any Baha'is who would teach the Faith to a White person:

"White people will often say they are "spiritual" but not religious. Which usually means that they will believe any religion that doesn't involve Jesus. Popular choices include Buddhism, Hinduism, Kabbalah and, to a lesser extent, Scientology. A few even dip into Islam, but it's much more rare since you have to give stuff up and actually go to Mosque. Mostly they are into religion that fits really well into their homes or wardrobe and doesn't require them to do very much." <>

As he points out, the advantage of so-called "spirituality" over religion is that it does not require any commitment or ask for donations. You get all the good feelings that religion can offer without any of the work or sacrifice! This kind of best of both worlds approach is absolutely essential to being white. Although, one thing he satirizes towards the end of this blog entry (this is the first release by a major book publisher to start off as a blog, which is one big reason I am reading it) does hit home to me:

"When a White Person tells you `I am a Buddhist/Hindu/Kabbalahist' the best thing to do is ask how they arrived at their religious decision. The story will likely involve a trip to Thailand or a college class on religion." (p. 2)

In my case it was a Grade 13 English course with a component on religion and an assignment on the religion of our choice -- my choice was the smallest Baha'i book a Baha'i could find for me, "The Reality of Man", which I guess qualifies mine as a white person's religion. Especially when you consider that the cover of that edition of "Reality of Man" was lily white.

Another entry that had me both angry and rolling on the floor laughing was the entry called "Awareness." This is the kind of biting satire that has not been seen since Addison, Steel and the Spectator.

An interesting fact about white people is that they firmly believe that all of the world's problems can be solved through "awareness." Meaning the process of making other people aware of problems, and then magically someone else like the government will fix it. This belief allows them to feel that sweet self-satisfaction without actually having to solve anything or face any difficult challenges. Because, the only challenge of raising awareness is people not being aware. In a worst case scenario, if you fail someone doesn't know about the problem. End of story. What makes this even more appealing for white people is that you can raise "awareness" through expensive dinners, parties, marathons, selling t-shirts, fashion shows, concerts, eating at restaurants and bracelets. In other words, white people just have to keep doing stuff they like, EXCEPT now they can feel better about making a difference. Raising awareness is also awesome because once you raise awareness to an acceptable, arbitrary level, you can just back off and say "Bam! did my part. Now it's your turn. Fix it." So to summarize - you get all the benefits of helping (self satisfaction, telling other people) but no need for difficult decisions or the ensuing criticism (how do you criticize awareness?). Once again, white people find a way to score that sweet double victory. (pp. 21-22)

In other words, servility disguised as political concern, the reverse of everything that we on this Badi' blog stand for, the Cause of God, universal reform, planning, sacrifice, cosmopolitanism, all negated by an annoying cop-out by persons of non-colour. Make people aware and you can congratulate yourself on having done all that can be done. How sorely we need the teachings of the Master!

-- John Taylor

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