As the season of Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day and Thanksgiving fall upon us, we will most certainly find ourselves bombarded by virtue signaling, posts and memes from the left-leaning and progressive among us about the travesties of the colonization of North America. I have no objection to the sentiment of these memes and post. It is undeniable that the United States, Canada and Mexico were all founded on a foundation of stolen land and the labor of African slaves. It is undeniable that the people whose land was stolen, and whose labor built the countries that we live in, have suffered while white people have prospered. It is undeniable that the socio-political structures of our countries were designed to oppress the non-white and help the whites, at least the whites with capital, succeed. That should be a source of shame for white citizens of North America, and I support any call to address the socio-political systems of oppression that prevent the equality that we supposedly promote. I have no problem with people calling attention to any of that.
However, what I have a problem with is white progressives using their social-media accounts for the purpose of sharing memes and status updates as a way of half-heartedly showing that they care. Memes and status updates that are nothing more than mental masturbation used to relieve oneself of guilt and make oneself feel morally superior to their conservative counterparts. I am tired of logging into Facebook and seeing people call for others to make sacrifices so that they, the white progressive, can feel better about themselves.
It is easy to post a meme or a status that shows that you are aware of the atrocities that built the country in which you live. It is easy to push, or call for, legislation that would take land away from western farmers that you have no emotional connection to. It is easy to ask for some rich guy that you have never met to sacrifice his money, land and capital to pay for reparations. But it is hard to sacrifice your time, money, land, and privilege to pay for some form of restorative justice. I want to see white-progressives do more than post emotional status updates. I want to see them taking a hard stand and making personal sacrifices before they ask their neighbor to make a sacrifice. As I noted earlier, we white people are reaping the benefits while our non-white brothers and sisters are continuing to pay the price for our privilege. That will not be fixed by virtue signaling your moral superiority on Facebook.
What I want to see is at the individual level people pushing for the promotion of their non-white counterparts. I want to see people step down so that their non-white neighbor can step up. At the federal and state level I want to see people pushing for legislation that will help the descendants of those that built this country, even if it hurts the white person’s bottom-line. We have national parks the profits of which could be sent directly to the descendants of those indigenous peoples rather than the government. That is, if we had the political will to do so. There are so many meaningful steps that could be taken if you wanted to right the wrongs of our nation’s past, and all of them would be much more meaningful than your Facebook and Twitter updates.
Sadly, I do not think that people do. What people want is a way to feel morally superior without making any personal sacrifices. They want to signal that they care, without any tangible actions that would actually show they care. They want to play the role of white savior without saving anyone or anything. This is why non-white civil rights leaders do not trust white people, period.
I am a white, left of center progressive. I am everything that I have complained about in this brief article. I pen this essay not just to chastise others but chastise myself for not taking meaningful steps to correct the wrongs that we see in the world.
So, in closing as we enter this time of reflection and Thanksgiving let us not just virtue signal that things need to be changed, addressed and corrected in our three North American countries. Let us take meaningful action to do just that.