Slate has taken up the mantra of collective guilt, insisting in an article this week that “all white Australians” are somehow implicated in the recent Christchurch mosque shootings.
“I’m a white Australian,” writes Rachel Withers for Slate. “I know that blaming myself and my cohort is illogical, but I can’t escape the feeling that all of white Australia is implicated in the deaths — a white majority that has fomented and let foment hate.”
Ms. Withers asserts that the responsibility for the lethal attacks does not lie with the shooter alone, nor even with “those who have stoked the international spread of white-supremacist ideology” such as Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Donald Trump Jr.
“Brenton Tarrant was an Aussie through and through, growing up in a country town north of Sydney, steeped in mainstream Australian racism and our particular national brand of Islamophobia,” Withers laments.
“I grew up steeped in the same environment, just two years younger than Tarrant, and when I was a child the omnipresent racism seemed, well, normal to me,” she adds.
And Tarrant did not carry out the attacks just in his own name, Withers insists, but “in the name of white Australia.”
White Australians now “face an overdue and now unavoidable reckoning with the role our anti-immigrant politics and culture played in shaping and normalizing Tarrant’s brand of hate,” she said predictably.
Ms. Withers then proceeds to assert that racism is embedded in the very roots of Australia in what comes across as a painful exercise in hatred of one’s homeland.
“A white-majority Australia exists only as the result of a genocidal invasion—another irony missed by Tarrant (and Trump) in his rants about invasion,” she declares, calling it Australia’s “original sin.”
The concrete means that Withers proposes to eradicate Australia’s hate was to be expected: curb free speech and expel those who do not support unrestrained immigration.
“We must condemn hate speech,” she said, “… and we must deny visas to alt-right figures who come to our shores expecting a friendly welcome not just in the wake of right-wing terror attacks, but always.”
“You might think that this is all too strong, that placing at least some of the blame on white Australia is a kind of self-centered masochism, that blaming a nation’s culture for the sins of a citizen is like blaming humanity for the crimes of one man,” Withers concedes, before saying that it must be done anyway since there is no other option.
What Ms. Withers may not be considering in her self-righteous screed is that embracing collective guilt by association opens the door to the very sins she seems to detest the most.
If all “white Australians” are guilty for the crimes of one white Australian, then why aren’t all Muslims responsible for the crimes of Islamic State terrorists? Why aren’t all Jews responsible for the death of Jesus Christ? Why aren’t all blacks responsible for the atrocities of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin? Why aren’t all leftists responsible for the crimes of Nicolás Maduro or Harvey Weinstein? The list could go on forever.
And if you can pick and choose just when such collective guilt will be assigned, on what grounds will the choice be made? Who will be the final arbiter to impute guilt or absolve from it?
All in all, the article reads like a high schooler’s ill-informed and petulant rant, long on impassioned feelings and short on reason.
The question of course then becomes: why would Slate publish it?
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