What is America’s majority culture?

We know there’s black and hispanic subcultures, but what is America’s majority culture?  Some call them the WASPs, but I don’t think that’s right, because Catholics obviously belong to it.  (This was not always true.  Americans two centuries ago were right to want to keep my ancestors out, because we Catholics did contribute decisively to the destruction of the religious element of America’s culture, which was Protestant or nothing.  The new majority culture is a different thing, one that the original WASPs would not have wished for their descendents.)  Some call them the Whites, but it must be made clear that this is a cultural, not a biological, designation.  I’ve heard it said that whiteness must be meaningless, because (they allege) the Irish were once regarded as non-white, but now we think of them as white, even though no one would say that their genes have changed.  In fact, this fact (if it is true) just illustrates that whiteness in America is a cultural marker, and an entirely meaningful one.  The Irish weren’t white until the twentieth century, when they became culturally at home.  What about the Jews?  Are they white?  Biologically, they are of course Caucasian.  Culturally, they seem distinct to me; more importantly, they seem distinct to themselves.

Whatever you call it–I call it “American majority culture”–I think it’s easy to tell whether or not you’re a part of it.  When a foreigner starts bad-mouthing Americans in front of you, calling them idiots, boors, racists, etc, do you think he’s talking about you or about them?  Are you offended?  If so, you’re part of the majority culture.  If you think, “Damn right.  You tell it, brother.  Those whites/gentiles/Christians are pigs,” then you are not part of this culture.  You are part of a subculture, a member of a wedge minority, and a registered Democrat.

2 Responses

  1. If someone starts criticizing the Chinese for being stupid, pacifistic, and being a young culture, I get mad. I get mad because overtly proclaimed ignorance annoys me and because the Chinese are getting a raw deal in this criticism. Plus, I know and like some Chinese people, so it is somewhat personal for me.

    American whites just don’t answer to the criticisms directed at them. You can get pissed without identifying with their culture. I find criticisms of Sarah Palin and her followers enraging, but she and I do not identify with the same culture. She is a crazy feminist, for example. Crazy feminism is inconsistent with Western culture, so she and I are from different cultures. This is one among many examples.

    The line you are walking is exceedingly hard to walk. How can a guy whose blog is called “Throne and Altar” identify with American culture? American was born in explicit hatred of that exact ideology—that is, in hatred of the West. You can have feelings of attachment for people who are related to you by friendship, genes, language, and folkways without being of their culture (at least in essentials).

  2. Hi Bill,

    You’re right; I need to be more clear. I mean, when somebody insults Americans, do you feel that you yourself have been insulted?

    Whether anyone feels they belong (and, thus, does belong) to the majority culture often depends on who its most visible enemies are. Traditionalist Catholics, for example, are ideologically more alienated from America than blacks, hispanics, or Jews, but don’t feel culturally as alienated because most of the criticism America gets in the world today is for not being even more opposed to what Catholics would regard as good order. Then again, this distinction between culture and ideology is what you’re questioning–have I rejected America’s ideals to such a degree that I am no longer part of the majority culture? It’s a good question. I still do have a sense that when foreigners hate Americans, they’re hating me. That must mean something.

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