War as White Privilege

Hi Joel,

Thanks for alerting me to Max Boot’s change(ish) of heart.

The neoconservative Boot, who, as you said, never met a foreign war he didn’t like, wrote  a piece in Foreign Affairs titled “2017 Was the Year I Learned about My White Privilege”--and it’s about as much of a confession of ignorance of America’s racism and sexism as we could probably ever hope to see. He says flatly, “I am embarrassed and ashamed that I did not understand how bad the problem is.”

I want to be gracious. I want to be gracious. But Geez Louise, how did a man with so little historical knowledge (and so few women friends or friends of color) get so much power? It’s not just that he “did not understand”–it’s that he must have undermined all the infrastructure–relationships, ways of seeing and knowing–through which that understanding could have come.

Anyway, he’s here now, and of course I’m glad. However, he reminds readers, “This doesn’t mean that I am about to join the academic political correctness brigade in protesting ‘microaggressions’….” It’s okay, Max. We can take it slow. 

Because, ultimately, if you see that whiteness affords you privileges that nonwhite people are not granted, you will eventually see that nonwhiteness is met with aggression that whiteness never has to consider. Microaggressions are a product of white supremacy, just like white privilege is.

And, eventually, maybe Boot will see that starting, fighting, and surviving war is the ultimate white privilege.


Image result for us war casualties by conflict

Above, a chart from Pew illustrates the US casualties in selected wars. Not shown: all the native Americans killed in the westward expansion of the US, victims of the “Filipino Insurrection,” the 20% of North Korea we obliterated during the Korean War, the 3 million Vietnamese we killed during Viet Nam, all those killed in Latin and South America as part of Reagan and Bush’s interventions there. 


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