Did you spend any time on Twitter last weekend? If not, you missed a good one.
Apparently Anne Frank had white privilege. Yes, that Anne Frank. The Jewish girl murdered by Nazis at the age of 15.
TMZ reports that it’s “[u]nclear how this toxic discourse first started,” but the gist is that “Jews had the benefit of their skin color to go unnoticed in public, if only temporarily, during that bleak time in history,” while “POC, historically, haven’t been able to do so.”
Which, of course, explains why Anne Frank spent her days in Amsterdam strolling openly along the canals, playing Cupid for cancer-stricken teens and blasting Justin Bieber’s latest album through her earbuds. Oh wait.
A few examples:
@Ka1zoku_Qu0d: “yeah Anne Frank had white privilege. bad things happen to people with white privilege also but don’t tell the whites that.”
@SkyisteraHigh: “Yes, all white people are safe… No one is saying the nazis didnt target white people, just that white people can hide behind their whiteness, where as in nazi USA Black people cant.”
@nhannahjones (yes, the 1619 lady joined in, because of course she did): “This is a sincere question because I honestly do not know: How is calling Anne Frank white anti-Semitic?”
Responses varied. Some users mocked the discussion. Actor Joshua Malina channeled Will Smith, commanding his fellow denizens of Twitter to “Keep Anne Frank’s name out your fucking mouth.” User @Brizzletrips wrote that “Anne Frank was shut away in a literal attic and was still more well rounded and socialized than the 21st internet gremlins debating about whether or not she had privilege.”
Others attempted to argue the case on its own terms. “Calling Anne Frank white is antisemitic because she was murdered for not fitting Nazi Germany’s definition of the white race,” Holocaust survivor and author Lucy Lipner wrote in response to Hannah-Jones.
The whole “are Jews white?” discourse isn’t new. Charles Dickens dropped several hints that his grasping, villainous Uriah Heep is a “secret Jew” passing as an Englishman. In his 1920 book The New Jerusalem, G.K. Chesterton proposed a law requiring “that every Jew” in the UK “be dressed like an Arab.” Chesterton was anxious about Jews blending in with Britons and believed that making them dress in Bedouin robes would lead to “healthier relations.” (This is one of Chesterton’s most off-putting ideas, but as a Chesterton fan, I feel compelled to point out that he had nothing but scorn for Hitler and was a staunch anti-eugenicist.)
Whoopi Goldberg got a (tragically short) two-week vacation from The View back in February after claiming that the Holocaust was “not about race” but “about man’s inhumanity to other man.” There’s a pretty good New Yorker piece from 1997 about our tendency to universalize Anne Frank. Author Cynthia Ozick argues that we’ve turned the girl’s tragic death into an uplifting fable, stripping the story of its particular cultural, racial, and religious context. When that happens, we become complacent. We “pull the wool over the eyes of history.”
A third group suggested that this Anne Frank dustup provided incontrovertible evidence of how just how absurd the identitarian oppression Olympics truly are. “‘Anne Frank had white privilege’ feels like a nail in the coffin for a certain kind of discourse,” wrote Slate editor Jordan Weissmann. (Nikole Hannah-Jones responded with a magnificent, though brief, display of the discourse style known as Sealioning.)
Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire, fresh off of a surprisingly amicable exchange with J.K. Rowling, also weighed in. “According to the Left’s doctrine of white privilege, yes Anne Frank had it. If that makes the concept of ‘white privilege’ sound insane, well right exactly,” he tweeted.
Okay, fine, I’ll admit that there is such a thing as “white privilege” in certain contexts. But reducing people to their skin color is stupid. A white homeless man has “white privilege.” Barack Obama doesn’t. Does that tell us anything useful? Absolutely not. And frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it.