Is there any good reason why it is improper to point out white disadvantage or hardship and lobby for white power? Historically, this sort of idea has been associated with violence, but is that history so toxic that the conversation can't even be had?

A few points.

At least in the US, the idea that there is widespread, systematic discrimination against white people, let alone systematic oppression, is not defensible. This is true even if some white people are sometimes discriminated against because they're white. It's also true even if some of the policies that are sometimes used in an attempt to redress the results of past discrimination and oppression are wrong.

For example: let's suppose that some affirmative action programs are unjust. If that's so, it's appropriate to object, sue, work to have the policies and laws changed... But that's not what "lobbying for white power" suggests.

Why? After all, the expression "white power" takes its cue from the older expression "black power." But bet's think about the slogan "Black power!" What's the message here?

It's not that black people should have power over white people. The claim that lies behind the slogan is that overall, black people have had less power than white people and that this is the result of historical discrimination and mistreatment. The point of the slogan isn't that black people should have more power than some other group; it's that they shouldn't have less.

Do some black people have more power than some white people? Yes. But is this systematically true? No. In every social stratum, whites have long been at an advantage on average compared to their black fellow citizens. Some people will deny this, but the weight of evidence is heavily against them.

Demands for "black power" are protests against deep-seated inequities and injustices that have been been baked into the system over decades and centuries. White working-class people may justifiably feel that they have been left behind and neglected by the political and economic system. They may justifiably be angry about this. But it would be very hard to make the case that their plight is because they are white. And it would be even harder to make the case that African-Americans with comparable skill- and education-levels are systematically better off. There are people demanding "white power" who will try to tell you different. They are either badly misinformed or worse.

There's a problem of inequality in the United States. Some politicians and others have tried to turn that undeniable fact into an argument that whites are now the victims of systematic discrimination. But as the old saying goes, that dog just won't hunt. There are conversations to be had about how to address the effects of racism justly and fairly. There are conversations to be had about the damaging effects of inequality and how to address them. But the facts about contemporary American society don't come close to justifying the toxic rhetoric of white power.

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