In 2011, an academic named Robin DiAngelo coined the phrase “white fragility” in reference to white people’s perceived defensiveness over questions of race. It didn’t explain this defensiveness—it only gave it a name. And it named only a small part of a more general condition. We’ll get to the condition of the white race in a bit, but for now, suffice to say that there are many types of white person. Some are just as fragile, yet break in a less predictable direction. Under the right circumstances, they could pressure themselves into joining a revolution. In more stagnant periods, they reach out to anyone willing to touch them. This is still fragility because it is unstable, because it is easy to recruit, because it is so common. Yet Robin DiAngelo—who is technically a scholar of ‘whiteness studies’—has little space for it. This means that ‘whiteness’ itself is not really being examined, and in failing to explain whiteness, or to give a credible story of what it means to be white, she cannot properly deal with race. Her work alludes to her own racial anxiety, but will not make sense of it. Her theory of racism is a theory of rugged individualism—and this is why it’s popular. The individual is tasked with the burdens of racism. So the individual, as under all right-wing systems, is forced to kneel. […]
The Winchester Repeating Arms Company made about 720,000 copies of the .44-.40 Winchester rifle and carbines between 1873 and 1923. It killed a lot of people; it was the “gun that won the West”; Jimmy Stewart had one in a movie; it was a legend. The Winchester Company made a lot of guns and made a lot of money for Oliver Fisher Winchester, and when he died in 1880, he left his estate to his wife Sarah, an estate worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which she needed when she moved West from New Haven.
Her daughter died of a wasting disease, and with her husband’s death, one can only imagine her heartbreak and depression. A medium, supposedly channeling her late husband, told her to move and continually build a home for herself and all the spirits made incorporeal by Winchester weapons. By way of expiation for past wrongs, building a house is not in the same class as disemboweling oneself, yet Sarah was no samurai, but a heartbroken widow.
When she moved, bought land in San Jose, California, and proceeded to use a part of her vast fortune to build…and build….and build. Originally seven stories before the 1906 quake (now just four). The house is a hodge-podge of architectural wonderments, with windows overlooking other rooms, stairs which don’t go anywhere, much less to Heaven, and odd-sized risers for the staircases. It is expiation in Queen Anne, Late Victorian style. It is hara-kiri with hammers, paint and nails. […]