Allow me to introduce myself. I am a middle-aged, white male - straight and married - whose family first came to America in the 1630s. That's right - nearly 400 years ago, before America even was America. My ancestors became Americans not by immigrating here, but by taking up arms against the English crown. They fought in the Revolution, and nearly a century later, some fought for the Union while others fought for the Confederacy.
I'm a member of a church, and even preached twice from the pulpit during the summer when the minister was on vacation. And I lost a job once when a new boss who said he wanted to increase minority hiring decided to fire me first, despite my getting consistently positive job reviews and higher-than-average raises every year.
So, no, I am not some minority SJW, looking to make fun of you or talk down at you. I am your people.
But that's not all I am. As an American, I am one proud and competitive man. I believe that we can take on and prevail against all comers. So I don't have any patience for people who are looking for shortcuts, handouts, and unfair advantages. You want a job? You'd better get it done, and do it better than anyone else. That's how the world works, and it you don't like it... well, shut up and try harder next time.
Like you, I look around and see that this country has become a mess. Kids who bust their asses in school get stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans... and no good jobs waiting when they graduate. Companies are making record profits while cutting hours and laying off hard-working, loyal employees. Rent takes up half a paycheck, and the only people who can afford to buy homes these days are flippers, trust fund babies, and people from China and the Middle East looking to hide their cash.
Heck, I pay $1,300 a month just for health insurance for me, my wife, and two kids. That's just for the insurance, mind you, not any actual care. If anyone gets sick or hurt, we still end up having to pay hundreds of dollars to doctors on top of that. It's crazy.
All I want is a fighting chance. Give me that, and I can take it from there. Give me an opportunity to work, to provide, and to help and I will deliver for my family, my community, and my country. But those opportunities are getting harder and harder to find.
I guess you probably feel the same way, too. Look, I want to help you get that same chance to get ahead that I want. I stand with any hard-working American, including you.
But because I stand with hard-working Americans, I cannot stand with anyone who is okay with killing another American. If you're okay with seeing other Americans killed — whether it be by whites, blacks, police, or anyone else — then I am going to see you as an enemy, not an ally.
And I can't stand with anyone who's okay with marching behind a flag of a country or a cause that's taken up arms against America. Put away those damned Nazi and Confederate flags. That's not my "heritage." That's the heritage of people who fought against America.
If you want to be proud of your heritage, you should be. So go ahead fly the flag of the country where your ancestors lived, as you fly America's Stars and Stripes. For me, that would be the Union Jack of the United Kingdom. Britain and America made their peace and have fought together for more than a century. I am proud of my British heritage.
But if you feel like you should be proud of your "white" heritage the same way that African-Americans get to talk about their "black" heritage, consider this: The ancestors of most black Americans came here in slave ships. They didn't carry over family Bibles and birth records. They can't fly the flags of their ancestor's nations because they don't know what they were. Their ancestry was erased when they were enslaved. The only heritage identity they have to claim is "black."
So let's be thankful for the history we have, and stop being hostile toward those whose history is lost, okay?
And let's not get too hung up on the past. Unless you were born rich, heritage doesn't put food on the table or a roof over your head. Work does that. Or, at least, it should.
The lack of good jobs, the lousy pay, and ridiculous expenses we face today are not because our nation has welcomed millions of immigrants over the centuries. It's because the rich people who own American's businesses are keeping more and more of their companies' money for themselves, instead of paying employees their fair share for the work that they do. Since the 1970s, companies and rich people have earned more and more from our work, while the people actually doing that work have been left with less.
There's a great parable about this: Two workers — one black and one white — bake a dozen cookies and bring them to their boss. The boss takes 11 of the cookies away, then points to the last cookie as he says to the white worker, "You'd better watch out for the black guy. He's gonna take your cookie."
Rich bosses have been pulling this on us for decades. They bust unions and point the finger at government regulation to try to distract us from the bigger and bigger share of company revenue that they are keeping for themselves.
You know that job I lost? I lost it because the a new boss wanted to hire his own managers for his own programs — like a lot of new bosses do when they get hired. Sure, he said that he wanted to increase minority hiring, but every boss in America says that these days. It wouldn't have mattered if I had been black or another minority. He'd have found his own black or minority person to take my place. I didn't have tenure or a union to protect my job. He could fire me at will, so he did.
Did you know that, for rich people, the government taxes the money they make investing at a lower rate than it taxes any money made from work? Or that the government does not withhold FICA from the entire paycheck of rich people, like it does for working-class Americans? The rich have rigged the system against people who work for a living, and now are trying to get the rest of us to fight each other for the scraps.
So when I read a self-proclaimed "white nationalist" say, "we just want to preserve what we have," I gotta ask: Why?
Why preserve a crappy system where workers who just want the same chance at an opportunity have to fight over less money and fewer jobs? Why preserve a system that favors people who stay at home and live off investments over people who actually invent, build, and serve?
We've got one damned cookie. I don't want to preserve that. I want to get what we deserve. But to do that, we've got to stop fight each with other and start fighting for each other.
So quit with this "white nationalist" crap. Walk away from the wannabe Nazis and gleeful killers. We are Americans. We work for a living.
And we are better than this.
© Robert Niles. Read more in the column archive.