Whining About Being White About to Get New Lease on Life

From Rand Paul, complaining to a black audience about his reception at historically black Howard University last week:

I think some think a white person is not allowed to talk about black history … which I think is unfair.

Um, yeah. That’s been a real problem for whites. Son of the South Ed Kilgore comments:

Those of us who wondered whether Paul in going to Howard was engaged in legitimate “minority outreach” or just playing to the white galleries, have a lot more reason to suspect the latter motive now that he’s openly posing as a victim of racism against white folks.

….Paul seems to be peddling the highly revisionist take on civil rights history laid out last year in National Review by Kevin Williamson, which holds that Republicans alway were and always will be the party of civil rights while Democrats have consciously switched their white supremacist tactics from Jim Crow to “plantation” socialism. It’s a hallucinatory approach to developments too recent and too well known to fool people about, and for that reason, it’s a line of argument that tends to offend people, particularly those being told they are fools for voting Democratic.

I got an email from a reader along these same lines, basically saying that Democrats didn’t so much bravely embrace civil rights in the 60s in the full knowledge that it would be electorally disastrous, but instead, cynically “started the new racism of political favoritism built upon race. Group think and group privilege. All kinds of statistics about how many of each race attain what social standing and income level.” I thought of this as the Glenn Beck version of history, but maybe I was failing to give credit where it’s due. I’ll refer to this as the Williamson version of history from now on.

This version of racial history has been an undercurrent within the conservative movement for years, but it’s never really been out and proud, so to speak. At least, I don’t think it has. I wonder if the efforts of Williamson and Rand Paul are going to change that? Is this going to become a genuine thing among conservatives, once they decide that a few months of being nice to minorities and the young is quite enough, thank you very much, and they might as well give up on these malcontents? I can’t wait to find out.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.