I understand what Andrew and Publius were getting at when they argued that white racism was less common in the South than people think. This just isn't 1965. This isn't even 1985. But I have to differ with Publius on this idea that "white resentment" is somehow a different animal. And I especially have to differ with Andrew that Affirmative Action is responsible. Many of you know where I stand on Affirmative Action--I think it is, how shall we say, problematic. But that feeling does nothing to ameliorate my fundamental distaste for whites who use Affirmative Action as a proxy to "resent" blacks.
Ezra basically nails it:
The end of privilege -- though of course, white privilege didn't end, it was only somewhat reduced -- hurts. Ending slavery meant destroying a lot of privilege, and it created a war. Reconstruction disrupted a lot of privilege and it produced countless lynchings and murders. Ending segregation destroyed a hefty amount of privilege, and it spurred societal tumult and vicious violence. By contrast, affirmative action was a relatively modest policy with fairly minimal effects on privilege, and it merely resulted in a potent political issue for conservatives. But to call white resentment the "poisoned fruit" of affirmative action is extremely strange. White resentment has been around a lot longer, and stems from people's desire to protect the fruits of a gross and grave injustice.
Indeed. I'm going to take this a step further--The idea that Affirmative Action justifies white resentment may be the greatest argument made for Reparations--like ever. Let's grant that white people have the right to resent black people because of 40 years of race preferences. But black people suffered through 300 years of race preferences which included, but weren't limited to--slavery, pogroms, wanton rape, land theft, and wealth transfer. Southern whites (the very people who perpetrated much of that sad history) can have their resentment, unashamed and public--right after they give us the deed to the entire Deep South. Sounds fair to me. What's that you say? Most whites didn't own slaves? And your grandfather hated the Klan? My sentiments exactly. Most black people don't benefit from Affirmative Action either. So what are we saying here?