EDITORIAL: Flyers bring up fruitless conversation
“IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE” signs miss point of argument
In recent weeks, flyers have been pasted to the walls of buildings at Rutgers and other universities across the country that state the phrase, “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE.” These flyers appeared after encouraged people with aligning views to go out on the night of Halloween and put up the flyers with the aim of provoking backlash from the “Leftist media.” In the end, the goal was to make it appear as if the media discriminates against white people to the point where they needed to defend themselves. By doing this, they assumed that people who are centrist politically would associate this assumed ideology of hatred toward white people with the Left, and therefore turn on them. All in all, it was a scheme conceived by internet trolls to rally support for far-Right activism.
There is a reason the scheme did not work, and there is a point that the people who put up these flyers are completely missing: It has never been advertised that it was not "okay to be white." These signs were most likely put up by white nationalists and alt-Right sympathizers as a way of gaining publicity and acknowledgement around their hateful ideology — one that combats the promotion of acceptance and amicability. There is a phrase for this: dog whistle racism. Dog whistle racism is any use of words that may be seemingly harmless to masses, but in reality is discriminatory in its nuances. Objectively, there is obviously nothing at all wrong with the phrase. It is the context of the posting of the flyers — the fact that it is part of a white nationalist movement — that makes them unsettling, not the actual words themselves.
The Left does not hate white people. There are millions of white progressive liberals who understand that the criminal justice system and the United States government can be biased against minority groups and urge them to re-evaluate their treatment of those who are not white. They understand that there are clear ripple effects and implicit biases still present in today’s society from slavery and the Jim Crow era and that there are also new ripple effects of prejudice toward certain groups stemming from President Donald J. Trump’s campaign and presidency which likely resulted in these flyers being spread.
To many people in this country, these are issues that need to be addressed. These are issues that are serious, and all that those who put up the flyers are doing is detracting from people’s focus on creating solutions to them — solutions that help everyone rather than argue a fruitless point that nobody is concerned with except those that find equality threatening.
There is nothing wrong with being born white. In fact, the point is that there is nothing wrong with being born anything in particular. Nobody chooses their ethnicity at birth, and that is exactly the reason that these issues need to be addressed. Nobody should have any advantage or disadvantage within our system of justice or government based on the way that they appear on the outside.
If the goals of those who posted the flyers were so innocuous, they would come forth and claim the flyers and the ideals that they promote. These flyers would not have been posted in secrecy, unattached to any organization or group. Because of this covertness, it is clear that the motive of those who posted the flyers only did so to start a "fire." But thankfully, there are people on campus who are willing to have open and effective conversation about these issues, rather than using a meme to spread their agenda.
It is likely that more pointlessly provocative flyers will emerge in the future, and when they do, it is important for the Rutgers community to ignore them. These flyers, while objectively true in their wording, offer no solutions — they bring nothing to the table except for a reminder that there are people who speak without intentions of inciting productive discussion that may help alleviate racial tensions that exist today. In these times, it is important to continue to strive for equality and acceptance without these distractions that will only serve to divide us even more.
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