Does White Guilt Exist?

There is a common refrain among many within the alt-right movement that many institutions- mainly education and the media- push a program designed to create guilt in white people.  For example, a lot of US history curriculum in schools has now adopted a Howard Zinn posture that America was founded by white, rich, slave-owning bad guys.  In the media, news programs continuously give voice to those who get off on racial tensions and benefit from them.  Colleges hold “white privilege” workshops and seminars where the basics of Critical Race Theory are taught and boil down to whites are racist even if they don’t act it or believe it. 

There are certainly many examples of this happening.  It is program of disrespectfulness where whites are told their ancestors were bad guys and that today’s whites have achieved their level of privilege only because the bad guys placed institutional barriers in the way of the good guys- usually a minority.  They are told that racial sins of the past can never be washed away and that racism runs deep in this country.  They are taught that they can partially alleviate the racism if they join progressive causes like open borders and affirmative action programs.  Some even push slavery reparations. 

To the extent these programs which instill guilt in white people exist (and there are certainly many examples out there), one has to ask how effective they are.  Previous studies and surveys on the issue have been suspect since no one readily admits racism in a survey setting.  Therefore, the goal is to tease answers out of respondents.  The 2016 ANES- American National Election Study- is a well-respected survey that gauges a variety of issues and their effect on politics and elections and the 2016 edition tried to tease such answers out of respondents regarding white guilt. 

The 2016 ANES asked three questions about white guilt directed at white respondents.  This is an anonymous survey so people are free to respond without fear of social repercussions.  It turns out that a very small minority of white Americans feel any guilt at all about their race regardless of how the question was framed.  What is surprising is that in other surveys of this nature, whites tend to exaggerate their feelings regarding race and any guilt.  One would expect that with ANES, more people would at least pretend to express some guilt to some degree. 

In the survey, it turns out that 63.3% of respondents feel no guilt whatsoever while only 8.2% feel a “great deal” or “a lot.”  When asked about social inequality between blacks and whites, a similar amount- 60.2%- expressed absolutely no guilt at all.  The survey did find that respondents under the age of 30 were more likely to express feelings of guilt, however the “no guilt at all” response was still the modal response. 

When cross-referenced against religious attitudes, the same trends occurred.  It mattered NOT how religious a person was as determined by identification with a religion and how often one attended church: white respondents- religious, atheist and agnostic- did not report any guilt. When asked if whites have advantages in society that minorities lack, only 10% responded whites had “a great many” advantages.  Similar results were seen when asked whether “skin color gives an advantage in society.”  When asked whether the federal government treats whites better than blacks, less than one-third said “yes.” None of these results denies that there may be a coordinated effort to shame whites into guilt about their race.  

There are many examples from academia and the media. There are clearly ample professors, entertainers and news pundits all too willing to denounce white people in general.  Black or Latino pride parades are regularly covered by the media in a positive light while a white pride parade would result in cries of white supremacy, if not Nazism. 

But, the results of this study can be interpreted in one of two ways.  The first is that it is flawed in some manner.  The second is that despite the best efforts of some on the Left in academia and the media, their attempts to instill some sense of white guilt are failing.  Perhaps the Right should let these attempts die a slow death since years of attempts are resulting in failure.

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