Sometimes you read something and a metaphoric light goes on in your head, and you think ‘Yep, that’s on the money’. This happened to me a few days ago when I read a series of tweets (a ‘thread’ in Twitter argot) sent into the ether by television chef Adam Liaw. Normally I’d never read something other than a recipe from a chef, thinking that is all they are good at, but that is just prejudice. This series of tweets explained much to me.
“The reason eggboy’s [the lad who egged Fraser Anning] protest has struck such a cord [sic] is that it cuts to the heart of white supremacy: a sense of inadequacy and a fear of humiliation.
They dress their fear as tough guy bravado, as anger, even as comedy shitposting, but scratch the surface and fear and inadequacy is all that’s there.
These racists feel humiliated and emasculated by the world around them. They blame feminist women who don’t want them, gays who they feel threaten their own masculinity, Asians buying houses they can’t afford, “enclaves” with strong communities.
Why else do they ALWAYS hate the same completely unrelated communities that share no common religion, culture, sex, economy etc.?
The constant underlying narrative is always “I used to be strong but now I’m weak” and they look for someone to blame. It’s why so many are underachievers and socially dysfunctional. They talk about how great and strong they USED to be.
They never used to be strong. They were just able to ignore their weakness. They imagined the achievements of others were their own. A white sportsman achieves success? That’s “us”. An indigenous sportsman? Or a woman? Tear them down. Everything reminds them of their weakness.
It’s why there’s always a theme of violence in the rhetoric. Violence makes the weak feel strong. It’s why 5 guys can’t wait – are absolutely desperate – to jump on a kid and cause him pain.
White supremacy has been a blight on this country for too long. Both the overt Anning variety, but also the watered-down race-baiting political variety. Finally, I think we’re starting to understand it.”1
I think this explains the noxious white supremacy almost perfectly. It is the insipid railing against their insipidity, but attempting to blame others for it. They have an inflated opinion of their own abilities, with no justification for doing so. They therefore seek to sheet home blame to others for the world not suitably recognising their abilities. I suspect, but don’t know (I am no psychologist), that it is a form of narcissism. They blame women for rejecting them, they blame anyone else who looks or is different for attaining what they cannot.
Adam Liaw’s tweets above reminded me of two acquaintances of mine. One has had two broken marriages, and a series of moderately well paying jobs which seemed to him to never be commensurate with his perceived abilities. He has become very bitter and racist. The other had several failed relationships (is this a common theme?), and a good job which he left, but then just bumped around on contract for many years. He ended up with a virulent hatred of homosexuals, and foreigners of all sorts, except of course, English speaking foreigners.
It strikes me that these people have failed to find their place in the world, mostly because their abilities are not sufficient to satisfy their inflated opinion of themselves. Finding your place in the world is something that most people eventually do with their families, careers or jobs, homes, hobbies, sport, clubs, friends, and most are more or less happy with their lot. If you cannot, it must be a difficult life.
Another thing of which Liaw’s tweets reminded me, was a quote from legendary science fiction writer and professor of biochemistry, Isaac Asimov: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” This chimes with Liaw’s assertion that these people are incompetent in that they cannot handle the world as it is, and why they often resort to violence. This inability is exacerbated by the almost constant and disgraceful race baiting by the Coalition parties and their cheer squad in the Murdoch media2. It reinforces the perception of the incompetent that others are to blame for their incompetence.