I can’t recall the first time I heard the phrase “white male” hissed as if it were some form of particularly vile insult. I know it happened in law school, where it was used as a short-hand way of saying that I should be silent, that my views were not welcome. Over time, I learned that, to a certain set of people, there was something positively wrong with being white. “We” were the great privileged oppressors of history. And “we” were the great privileged oppressors of the present.
Our law schools are, in many ways, incubators for the identity politics that dominate the social-justice Left. For those soaked in progressive identity politics, skin color was a stand-in for virtue. It was impossible for a black person to be racist; it was impossible for a white person not to be. Any in-depth discussion of history had to acknowledge past injustice. It was tough even to talk about, say, Omaha Beach without in the next breath acknowledging the systematic segregation in the World War II–era U.S. Army.
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