This past weekend the Twittersphere was all abuzz surrounding a debate on whether or not Anne Frank, the 13-year-old Jewish girl who chronicled her attempt to hide from Nazi persecution before dying in a Nazi concentration camp two years later, benefited from ‘white privilege.’
Just let that sink in for a minute.
The topic was broached by Twitter user @Ka1zoku_Qu0d, whose profile says he is a “Marxist-Humanist” and “Hedonist-Utilitarian.”
The tweet that has since been deleted stated:
“Anne Frank had white privilege. Bad things happen to people with white privilege also but don’t tell the whites that.”
If you weren’t disgusted with the level of stupidity on regular display on social media before, you certainly will be now.
So let’s look at this argument of ‘white privilege’ and the danger this sort of rhetoric leads to.
For the most part, the Twitter storm surrounding the Anne Frank trend was to lambast this insane argument that Anne Frank enjoyed white privilege, which I suppose should comfort the rest of us.
However, sometimes all it takes is the loud few to make an impact, both negatively and positively.
One Twitter user who was in support of the argument tweeted:
“Yes, all white people are safe. No one is saying the Nazis didn’t target White people, just that White people can hide behind their whiteness, whereas in Nazi USA Black people can’t. Go tell Black people the Wites got it hard.”
The argument could be made that this is just from a few uneducated, bigoted people who crow nonsense on social media to stir drama or get a dopamine rush from the likes and retweets. But the scary reality is that blurring the lines of truth surrounding the Holocaust and race is not something only done by internet trolls who live in their parent’s basement.
Whoopi Goldberg was suspended from The View for two weeks due to her comments surrounding the Holocaust when she oversimplified this significant part of world history as; “white people doing it to white people.”
Interesting commentary from Whoopi Goldberg, whose birth name is Caryn Johnson. She changed her first name to align with the always lovable whoopee cushion and her last name because she’s “always felt Jewish.”
Let that sink in for a minute.
Moving right along. Ms. Goldberg issued an apology after the Anti-Defamation League educated “The View” co-host about the role race played in the Holocaust.
This ignorance over the Holocaust is alarming until you look at the numbers. For example, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found in 2020 that 63% of adults under 40 are unaware that Nazis murdered six million Jews.
So how did the plight of the Jews get trivialized so quickly by so many? A relatively new and widely accepted concept is known as ‘white privilege.’
What is ‘white privilege’ other than a made-up construct to advance a narrative of victimhood? According to Robin DiAngelo, the author of “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism”, white privilege is:
“…the automatic, taken-for-granted advantage bestowed upon white people as a result of living in a society based on the premise of white as the human ideal, and that from its founding established white advantage as a matter of law and today as a matter of policy and practice. It doesn’t matter if you agree with it, if you want it, if you even are aware of it.”
So the argument that Anne Frank benefited from white privilege states that since she was white, she could blend in and hide better than if she had been born black.
The problem with white privilege is that it had to morph to answer for other races that don’t fit the narrative of white people being the sole beneficiaries of good fortune. So what emerged was ‘white adjacency,’ which, as DiAngelo describes, is:
“The closer you are to whiteness – the term often used is white-adjacent – you’re still going to experience racism, but there are going to be some benefits due to your perceived proximity to whiteness.”
This concept is often applied to the Asian American and Hispanic communities.
The adage that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me doesn’t ring true when it comes to the dangerous rhetoric from relative nobodies on Twitter to celebrities and members of Congress, for that matter.
Last year there was a 167% increase in assaults against Jewish Americans from 2020, with 2,717 antisemitic incidences and 88 assaults. New York, in particular, has seen an uptick in violence, including against the Jewish community residing there.
According to Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League :
“We had Jews beaten and brutalized in broad daylight in Midtown Manhattan, in Brooklyn, in the Diamond District. What was remarkable about it was people acted with impunity. These were Jewish people wearing a kipa or who were visibly Orthodox being assaulted for being Jews, and that is brand-new.”
While the Anne Frank ‘white privilege’ dumpster fire on Twitter is outlandish and, as mentioned before, had most people raging against any claim that she enjoyed white privilege, the way this stamp gets tossed around can be dangerous.
Even Helen Keller isn’t immune to the charge of ‘white privilege’. In a Time magazine article on the deaf and blind trailblazer, the following was published:
“However, to some Black disability rights activists, like Anita Cameron, Helen Keller is not radical at all, ‘Just another, despite disabilities, privileged white person,’ and yet another example of history telling the story of privileged white Americans.”
A more recent example of the white privilege stamp getting some fresh ink relates to current events surrounding the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. Woke AF podcast host Danielle Moodie said regarding Senators Susan Collins’ and Joe Manchin’s disappointment in some of the Supreme Court Justices on a panel on MSNBC :
“Are they confused and stunned or did it not matter because they are wealthy and they are white and they are privileged?”
No one is safe from this kind of rhetoric. And once you are marked, the real-world consequences can be dire.
If a young Jewish girl who perished in a Nazi concentration camp and a blind woman who founded the American Civil Liberties Union and quite literally could not see race can be minimized for their ‘white privilege,’ how well does that fare for the rest of us?
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