Unpacking Our Cultural Knapsack: Taking A Closer Look at the Attack on Western Culture

If you have ever taken a college course in recent years, or even have been through the public school system, you may have come across terms like “political correctness”, “social justice”, “diversity”, “systematic racism”, “decolonization”, “white privilege” and others like it. These terms while describing different things, all have an interconnecting thread: The argument that US society, politics and culture, and more broadly Western culture in general are deeply flawed and immoral at the core. In this worldview, we live in a society surrounded by systematic racism, white supremacy, colonialism, and every other negative word in the book! It’s a society where “black and brown people” are oppressed, subjugated, dehumanized and cannot succeed in a system stacked against them at every turn, and where some lives don’t seem to matter. Indigenous peoples were subjugated through colonialist forces, and the country was built on the backs of those we enslaved. In this cultural dystopia, the only winners are (gasp!) white people, and more specifically white males. For the privileged class, our stolen privilege permeates every fiber of our being and while the underclass feels its sting everyday, the lucky few go about completely unaware of how simply being born into this country makes them complicit in this horrendous affair. Or so we are told to think. 

But to use a metaphor from the Left, let’s “unpack” some of these assertions. For those unfamiliar with the metaphor, it comes from an article written by Peggy McIntosh called “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” where she compares one’s unearned privileges with handy items in a knapsack to help you get through life easier such as money, maps, extra snacks etc… She argues that white people have more items in their knapsacks than others, and made an extensive list of so called privileges only whites enjoy. That metaphor has now been extended to mean closely analyzing and critiquing what is seen to be taken for granted or is problematic. The Left says we need to unpack our cultural biases, but has anyone unpacked their assertions about our society? I want to help unpack a few major criticisms of our society and the West, (as in Western Culture) at large.

A common one heard echoed throughout the halls of academia and even at protests, is that we need to “dismantle” and “decolonize” the country and the Western World. They argue that the US was founded on stolen land, taken away by genocide from Native American peoples. In other places, they evoke the imperialism of many European countries. Because we conquered various peoples around the globe, and often treated them harshly, those who argue for decolonizing say we’re still oppressing them to this day and need to back off big time! Now, on its face it seems right, and many Western powers have let got of the vast majority of these formerly colonized territories. However, this decolonization movement has gone far beyond simply giving back certain places their independence.

Using the US as a case study, they talk about decolonizing school curriculum to tell a narrative of how evil and oppressive we were, assert that all white people are guilty of oppressing Native Americans to this day, that all of our country’s innovations are fruits of a poison tree, and academia being impartial or daring to undergo the anthropological and archaeological study of indigenous peoples, is forcing colonialism among other charges. Also, our founding fathers, the pioneers who settled the West, and pretty much every non-native American are actually immoral oppressors. Now to unpack this, no one denies we did some pretty brutal stuff in our history. The slavery of the past was wrong, and many even at the time thought so. The physical and cultural subjugation of Native peoples is also not our shining moment either.

No one is arguing we glorify these blights on our history. However, for as much as we were wrong in doing these things, have people honestly forgotten literally every human group partook in conquest and the subsequent domination over the conquered? From the great Roman Empire, to the Comanches taking over part of the Great Plains, humans can be tribal and territorial with a thirst for better resources, and power. Also, many human societies including many Native American tribes had some form of slavery. Why are these more easily overlooked? Hard to talk of “stolen land” when your group stole it from someone else. Also, calls to decolonize and reaffirm indigenous groups sound nice, but what substantive things would we do to dismantle our society for them yet still have room for us? Must we go so far as to have a self imposed exile over the lands we too now, have been on for generations? If not that far, then how far exactly must we go to atone? How much moral culpability do we have for the sins of our forefathers? Why does the West get double condemnation for what should be considered equally immoral for all who partake in it?

Changing gears a bit, one assertion a little closer to home for many is the argument that society is systematically stacked against people of color, and in favor of white people. Which means that people of color cannot achieve as much due to societal constraints while conversely, white people benefit from society’s inherent power structures so they cannot claim they “worked hard” to earn what they achieved.  I’ve touched on this one more in depth before, but I’ll summarize what I argued. Many of these claims of systematic disadvantage are rooted in historical oppression, much of which has been overturned legally and socially. For example in the past, black people were discriminated against in the job market and housing. However, there are laws now explicitly prohibiting such discrimination and programs like affirmative action and immense social pressure to hire a more “diverse” workforce and have more integrated neighborhoods. Getting denied a loan might be because you have credit card debt like the majority of America, not simply because they looked and saw you were a person of color, or someone was hired instead of you despite your stellar credentials because they were the manager’s cousin and you just didn’t know that and you concluded it was because they were white. You can’t blame every setback on “the system”.

To bring up a newer insight, many argue that white people are systematically privileged and do not deserve full credit for what they do achieve and that hard work as a way to success is a myth. The social system is the true controller of our destiny no matter what our race they argue. However, what happens when people of color do find success? They often say it was their determination and double hard work despite the oppressive forces, but wait! Isn’t that also the myth of meritocracy? That they achieved because of their individual effort, not that society allowed them to achieve success?

To highlight the absurdity and contradictory nature of this, I recently read an article written by a former minimum wage black security guard who was able to become a doctor at the hospital he worked for. Med school is super competitive, and there are countless white people for whom medical school is only a pipe dream. Yet, this lowly security guard had what it takes to climb that social ladder to a place of privilege and prestige in this country. What other countries could he have done so outside the West? And yet, the focus of his article was not on how he achieved his dream, his determination, or one iota of gratitude for the society that enabled this success, but on how he is still the victim in a society who thinks his life doesn’t matter. If social systems determine where we will end up more than our own free will, then couldn’t one argue it had to have enabled his climb up the social ladder?

On a related note, the last but definitely not the last thing to unpack is the assertion that Western Culture is built on white supremacy. The Left says that the White race built Western Civilization, and even invented the concept of race solely to oppress others, so they could twist my whole article saying I’m blowing some “white supremacist dog whistle” or something. Defending the West to them becomes about defending white supremacy. However, in that assertion, it is they who hold the racist assumptions. Ever heard phrases like the “Great American Melting Pot”? Or that historically, the vast Roman Empire was very cosmopolitan stretching from Britain to North Africa to the Middle East and of course contained people who looked vastly different from one another. My point in bringing up these examples is can you think of another non-Western culture that has such immense ethnic and racial diversity? Since the West has been so influential around the globe, people of all races and many ethnicities have been touched by it in some way, and many live in the cosmopolitan countries of today that make up Western civilization. Their stories too have helped influence and shape the West. Western does not equal White necessarily.

I’ll conclude by saying that in focusing so much on what makes our culture bad, we ignore what makes it good. Such as advanced technology and medicine. Scientific innovations. Lower mortality rates. Higher standards of living. A utopia compared to where some live and many risk everything to get here. Somewhere where hard work and determination get you further in life. Somewhere where everyone can belong regardless of class, race or any other label. No culture is all good, a perfect utopia where zero inequalities and disparities exist, but certainly no culture is 100% bad. Certainly not ours.

So why can’t some of us see it that way? Let’s unpack that… 

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19 thoughts on “Unpacking Our Cultural Knapsack: Taking A Closer Look at the Attack on Western Culture

  1. It was a great debate, Kamala looked like a Deer in the Headlights, Mike Pence made her look like the LAIR that she is.
    Mike won by a mile.

    Kamala said, ” You respect the people when they tell you the Truth.” Well Kamala you did not tell the truth during the Debate.
    I await the Leftists on this board to dispute the above facts

    Kamala might be right. Democrats have a coalition of convicted felons, illegal immigrants, anarchists and some normal people who might like an old tired mentally impaired politician.
    They have quite a broad and diverse coalition of America haters, terrorists, racists, communists, Islamist’s, anti Semites, looters, arsonists, anarchists, treasonous bastards, deep state actors, and other assorted scum of the world now aligned with the Biden Harris er Harris Biden ticket

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After losing what should have been a pretty winnable election, it would make sense for Hillary Clinton to sit down with her team and assess what happened and why they lost. It would be useful information for anybody that wants to challenge Trump in 2020. However, that kind of self-reflection would be grounds for accepting responsibility for something and Hillary Clinton does not do that.

    Instead, Hillary chose to blame James Comey. In revealing what is either a stunning lack of self-awareness or just her innate penchant for blaming others for her troubles, she decided to attempt to make the case to donors the reason she lost states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio was due to letters sent by FBI Director James Comey to members of Congress about her emails

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This blogger, Shaw Kenawe is a product of the 60’s where the idiot Hippies ran amuck, left-wingers like this idiot were one of those people that came from the sixties drug and “don’t give a damn” environments
    . I worked my butt off working doing 2 jobs in those days to support my family and to get me into a quality college to get a better education, and when I got out, I had a very hard time getting a job that I was qualified for because I am white. Affirmative action, is an injustice. But these people today, don’t give a damn, they get what they want thru handouts or by threats, and from “Protests”, Rioting, Burring, Looting, Tearing down statues, and yes even the Beating of people.
    And this is what these Progressives are doing to America today . Funny how thing work if you are a minority. I know that these Liberal bleeding hears will tell us that’s not that way it is, and that everybody is equal, but, that’s just horse crap. Obama and his Liberal followers think that the U.S. is arrogant and needs to be taken down a notch or maybe three. Liberals think that America was founded by evil, selfish, hateful WHITE MEN who were only interested in their own power and richness. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, Moveon.org, the Center for American Progress, Media Matters and other such extremist left-wing organizations, and even the Progressive bloggers like Shaw here think they are doing a good thing. The problem is that they are 100 percent completely wrong. What they are actually doing is taking America down the path to Socialism. So who is the real idiot here? There is only one President of these united States and he is the policy maker.
    Liberal policies have destroyed the backbone of America, and Obama is destroying the relationship between the black community and the whites in America.
    And this creep Barack Hussain Obama, has this done in the past 3and a half years that president Trump has been in office. Who Bailed out the economy? Trump did, surely Obama didn’t! Under Obama the auto industry filed bankruptcy on billions of tax payers dollars any wise business man knows you file bankruptcy first and let go of the bad debts and then re-organize! So he wasn’t so smart with that one, was he! Then lets see, he gave billions of tax payer dollars to companies like Solindra to the tune of 529 million only to have them file for bankruptcy, oh yes, he vilified Mitt Romney for sending jobs over sea’s well if that ain’t the pot calling the kettle black I don’t know what is. He simply thinks that spending money fixes everything! Well it doesn’t! He lied to us in the debates with Romney claiming he supports the coal industry and the oil industry when he was shutting down many coal mines across the country and coal burning plants, he refused to renew licenses on oil drilling, yet he said he is creating new jobs, he is causing job losses actually – And then he told us with a straight face that Obamacare was going to be affordable! Affordable my eye! I spend more on deductibles and premiums so far this year than I ever have in the past. And how about his dear wifey spending our money like a drunken Sailor all over the world with an entourage of friends, servants and celebrities. The Obama administration was the biggest disgrace in American history. Obama never Loved loves or respects this country. Everyone who voted for should be ashamed. And thank God for giving us Donald Trump, And that my friends is the end of my speech

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Regarding your post, “Unpacking our Cultural Knapsack”, I appreciate your efforts and extensive research in presenting the reality and causation of what is transpiring politically and culturally across the US. As I myself trace the actions and motivations of our educational system and mass media, I have arrived at the conclusion that we are seeing a diversionary tactic aimed squarely at misleading the public by diverting blame from the Left where it surely belongs.
    The Democrat’s solution for people of color has historically, failed for decade after decade. Welfare cradle to grave has destroyed the Black family unit while it has ensured that Blacks will vote democrats into office again and again . I am most disappointed in Black politicians in congress and on the state and local level for continuing the lies, misinformation and the destructive cycle.
    BLM in aligning with the democrats-chiefly Obama at it’s inception and now big industry i.e. : Silicon Valley etc. has like the DNC, itself become a wealthy and powerful entity espousing the myth of America as possessing a mostly racist national citizenry.
    Power, wealth, the enticement for psychologically and spiritually destroying Black communities by convincing its people that they have no chance for success, are incapable of formidable achievement and a productive life in such a bigoted nation. Further, that hard work and sound life choices, just aren’t worth the effort as it is entirely hopeless. It’s damn criminal and this common man will not be blinded or taken in by the all encompassing effort to divert blame from where it is so clearly deserved.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. On Saturday night two Sheriff’s deputies including a 31-year-old mother of a six-year-old were ambushed and shot in their car in Los Angeles.Video shows a very short man or child stalking the sitting car and then shooting the two deputies several times in the head. When the deputies were brought to St. Francis Hospital in Los Angeles by ambulance Black Lives Matter activists swarmed the hospital and blocked the entry and screamed, “We hope the b***h dies!” On Sunday the ENTIRE Washington football team kneeled against police brutality and for Black Lives Matter. (Tweet/Photo) They then stood for the anthem.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My message to ALL you Liberals Nut-Jobs out there who have pulled every stunt in the books to defeat the President.

    To ALL you Progressives Anti- Americans that tell us that we MUST love these radical Crazies out there that are rioting, Killing, burning, and destroying this Beautiful country of my Ancestors, and our forefathers.Who have been pulling these Hoaxes, because you can’t win an honest election at the ballet box. It’s not that we love Donald Trump so much. It’s that we can’t stand you. And we will do whatever it takes — even if that means electing a rude obnoxious unpredictable narcissist (your words not ours) to the office of President of the United States — because the only thing we find more dangerous to this nation than Donald Trump is you. You people have been calling me and my fellow Patriots all these stupid and ugly names, and I’ve had it. I am NO long er Ms. Nice Guy. I for one am going to fight you like you have been fighting me

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Goodness I can’t stand it with the anti-US rhetoric from every media platform I see. What’s so ironic is that 90% of the so called “privileges” they have (or accuse other of having) come from the very country they slander and hate. I just immediately turn off any show, web page, person, speech, or whatever I come across that starts to hint at it. The US is the worst for LGBT rights? Okay, well try having a stroll across Saudia Arabia or Russia with your same-sex partner and see how that goes for you. The US is racist? Try demanding affirmative action and other race based laws in Asian and Latin American countries (where lighter skin actually is idealized publicly and shamelessly). I’m an immigrant from a country that gave us little to no opportunities and I am thankful and gracious this amazing country gave me and my family the opportunities to make our own CHOICES to steer our lives. Out of me and my 8 cousins, we have 11 university degrees and not a single one of us spoke English when we first got here. It’s not anyone’s “right” to be provided with good outcomes when they seek to make bad choices in their lives. If you choose to break the law, be prepared to face law enforcement. If you choose a degree in gender studies, be prepared for the salaries and job opportunities that specific degree will offer you. When will people realize that THEY are the stewards of their own lives?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As usual, you make important points. Perhaps the most important reason why so many criticize western civilization is that western civilization is unusual in that it is open to criticism. Most other societies do no tolerate such criticism and that can make western civilization appear worse than it is when willingness to hear and address the negative is actually a virtue. For example, as you point out, most societies around the world have had slavery. What is unusual is that western civilization, based on its own self examination, decided to end slavery. European nations and the U.S. abolished slavery, often at great cost to themselves both in treasure and blood. One offshoot of western imperialism is that it was the force that ended slavery throughout much of the world. We condemn western civilization partly because of slavery but overlook that it was unique only in that it abolished slavery on its own.

    The politically correct social justice warriors hold their views with a quasi religious fervor that gives them an unshakable certainty immune to any appeal to logic and objective facts. Any who refuse to share their opinions are condemned just as a religious fanatic condemns unbelievers. Indeed, they condemn other social justice warriors over minor differences just as the religious fanatic condemns heretics who differ even on the smallest points of dogma. The right tends to view the left as people with bad ideas whereas the left views the right as bad people.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. An excellent post, as always.

    The leftist narrative contains some elements of truth, which is the best way to tell a lie as it gives the lie some veracity. And, of course, if you tell a lie often enough …

    Pick up any social studies textbook (in any state you care to choose) and you will find that our children are being taught out-right lies and half-truths. So, it is no wonder that as college students and young adults, they have no clue about actual historic events. Fact: the greatest danger to the Native Americans was other Native Americans. They were at war with one another for thousands of years. Fact: the westward migration of Europeans pushed eastern tribes into lands and territories already occupied by other Indian tribes, which exacerbated the problem of Native American genocide. Fact: Given who the Indians were, culturally, and given the fact that European settlers were never going home again, there were only three solutions to the problem of the native-white interface: (1) find a peaceful solution, (2) kill each other off, or (3) remove the Indians to reservations. We can bemoan the reservation policies imposed by Washington politicians 150 years ago, but we should ask, “Why has none of this changed in 150 years?” This issue isn’t about white privilege; it’s about tribal and Washington corruption.

    We can speak for hours about the plight of native Americans on reservations. We can speak as long about minority communities living in subsidized slums, as well. White people didn’t put blacks into Chicago Slums … government policy did that, most of which (but not all) have been Democratic Platform policies over many years. As with the issue involving tribal corruption, who is most corrupt in the black community? Answer: the most influential, wealthiest black elite. Valerie Jarrett has made a fortune as the owner of subsidized housing in southside Chicago. Whether we are speaking about Indian or black slums, the effects are similar. Why don’t Indians and blacks value education? It is the ONLY pathway to changing the status quo. Why aren’t Indian and black men interested in their children? Why do so many Indian and black men abandon their women, leaving them alone to raise children, who then repeat the cycle of abuse and neglect? White America didn’t create that problem—and the fact is that there isn’t much that white America can do about it.

    The systematic oppression of minorities and white privilege is a fairy tale. Who pays for our “free education” system that doesn’t appear to interest our minorities? Hint: it isn’t unemployed. No one within these minority groups appears to have made the connection between dropping out of “free education” programs and closed doors to advancement. None of us can control the circumstances of our birth; all of us have a say about our circumstances at the time of our death. I submit that there is no greater danger to our Republic than the woefully under-educated “activists” who beat the drum for all the wrong “changes” to our society.

    Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Here in Canada, the popular thing has been to “recognize” that “we are on Treaty # land”. In the co-op we lived in before our move, I served on the board for a while. The new board president wanted to start all meetings with a statement “recognizing” this, and many city and provincial government meetings already were. These statements had nothing to do with the meetings in question. Just some virtue signalling. What people weren’t understanding is that, in those treaties, that land had been signed away to the Crown. It no longer belongs to them. Now, it’s absolutely true that the Crown didn’t come through with their end of the bargain, and shafted various First Nations people, over and over. It’s been more than a hundred years, and those treaties are *still* being negotiated. We’re dealing with a lot of crap because past people in authority had no intention of honoring the contracts they signed. Interestingly, the cheated FN tribes were sometimes able to turn to the British king for justice, bypassing local government.

    Now, we have an entire grievance industry built around those treaties. The FN activists involved have no desire to actually achieve their goals; it’s too lucrative. Meanwhile, their own people are suffering in terrible conditions, while the billions of dollars given to FN groups never make it to the people who need the most help. What’s happening in the US is spilling over our board, as FN activists increasingly use US leftist tactics, including building a whole mythology on systemic racism and rewriting history. We actually do have systemic racism; it’s call the Indian Act. But if we abolish that, then the activists loose their gravy train.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Sadly, we have to pay attention to the crazy stuff going on with the US, as so much of it affects us, too. More so now, then I’ve ever seen before in my life!

        I’ve had Facebook “debates” with someone on my friends list that is a rabid anti-Trumper and anti-US in general. She posts the MSM fake news stories and believes them all, and gets very upset when I point out the evidence that proves her wrong. Lately, her response to me has basically been that I shouldn’t talk about it, because I’m a Canadian and don’t live in the US. She, meanwhile, is a Canadian, born in the US but, lived there in decades, and never intends to move back.

        Some of the most virulently anti-US Canadians I’ve seen are ex-pat socialists.

        Liked by 1 person

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