No, Western Culture Is Not About “White Supremacy”

Rob Jenkins, Chief among the Big Lies currently being promulgated by the American Left is that Western culture is inherently racist, a manifestation of White Supremacy. This is not only nonsense but pernicious, dangerous nonsense.

Before we go on, perhaps we should define “Western culture.” It is essentially the marriage of Judeo-Christian morality with classical (that is, Greek and Roman) intellectualism. It privileges reason over emotion and the individual over the state. Its central tenet is that, through their own efforts, a person can rise above their circumstances.

Western culture is not now nor has it ever been perfect. But it has given us a wealth of great ideas: that all men (and women) are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with natural rights, that we can learn much (if not everything) about our world through careful observation and experimentation, and that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. It has produced the technological advances that have made modern life so relatively carefree and comfortable–such that, in the West, our “poor” now live better (and longer) than the royalty of years past.

Western culture has also given us much beauty, in the form of art, music literature, and architecture, as well as an appreciation for the even greater beauties of nature. For those reasons, Western culture represents the best that humanity has yet produced.

Still, we are told that Western culture is racist because Western nations once practiced slavery. Yes, they did. But what that indictment ignores is that virtually every culture in the history of the world practiced slavery, including in Africa and North America long before Europeans showed up. For most of recorded human history, slavery was the status quo. One group of people conquered another, and those that weren’t killed were captured and enslaved.

It was Western culture, in Europe and North America, that eventually put an end to that abominable practice (although it still exists in some parts of the world). And the reason the West was motivated to do so was that slavery is ultimately incompatible with our core belief in the worth of the individual. It took us a few hundred years to get to that point, true, and many thousands perished in the effort. But we did finally get there—precisely because of our cultural heritage, not in spite of it.

Furthermore, contrary to the popular narrative, Western culture has never been tied exclusively to “whiteness.” Its roots can be traced back to North Africa and the great library at Alexandria, as well as to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It has also absorbed and incorporated, over the centuries, the best that other cultures have to offer, as is readily apparent in today’s music, literature, and fashion.

That is not, as some would have it, “cultural appropriation.” Rather, it is a tribute to those other cultures and the good they bring. It also reflects the open-mindedness and liberalism (in the best sense of the word) of the Western ethos, which naturally seeks truth and beauty wherever they can be found.

Finally, Western culture in its current incarnation is expressly not racist because it is not limited to any particular race. It’s not just for White people or those whose ancestors were European. In fact, it is not exclusive at all. Far from it. All are invited to participate. And many do, all around the world, flocking if they can to Western Europe, the United States, and Canada specifically because they wish to be part of our culture and enjoy the individual freedoms and opportunities it presents.

And when they cannot actually come here, they seek as much as possible to incorporate elements of our culture into theirs. Indeed, the power of Western culture to promote freedom and prosperity is such that totalitarian, collectivist regimes, like the one in Communist China, must squelch or remove by force all vestiges of Western-style democracy with its emphasis on the individual. Despots know, if they allow their subjects (who are, in fact, little more than slaves to the state) too many of the freedoms we Westerners enjoy every day, their hold on power will become increasingly tenuous. That is exactly what is going on in Hong Kong today.

Unfortunately, it is also what is going on in the United States and other Western nations, although to a lesser extent (for now). The would-be despots of the Left understand that, if they wish to control us—as they clearly do; witness COVID—they must wean us from such “antiquated” notions as individual liberty and personal responsibility.

Make no mistake: They wish to make us all slaves, or at least serfs, as F. A. Hayek predicted many years ago. And when I say “us,” I mean all of us—Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, you name it. That, to the Left, is the end game, what “equity” really means: We all become serfs together.

But their opening gambit is to destroy our faith in Western culture as a force for good and convince us that, if we enjoy the peace and prosperity Western culture has produced, we must be racist. We cannot allow ourselves to fall for it—nor can we allow our children and grandchildren to do so. For that will indeed mark the end of what Ronald Reagan rightly called “the last best hope of man on Earth.”

(Postscript: Many have written on this topic far more eloquently and at greater length than I, including the aforementioned Hayek, Victor Davis Hanson, Dinesh D’Souza, and my friend and former colleague Mary Grabar. In fact, if you’re looking for something you can really sink your teeth into and then pass on to your children, in order to counter the profoundly anti-Western narrative that dominates today’s “education,” I heartily recommend Grabar’s Debunking Howard Zinn.)

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