20K #WhiteRage Tweets Prove Author’s Point with Unintentional Irony

2013-07-16 white rage salon

Edward Wyckoff Williams published an article today (7/15) on Salon.com entitled Our real problem is white rage — which has generated a lot of, well, rage. The article discusses the racial issues in the Zimmerman case and in the way people mistakenly anticipated rioting after the verdict’s announcement.

Amazingly, the anger at his article has become a major topic on Twitter. By the end of the day, reaction had snowballed to over 20,000 angry and mocking tweets.

The irony of that much rage denying rage is impressive. Very meta.

Williams defined the term “white rage” in this passage:

… President Barack Obama is not immune — as he’s become the target of incessant “white rage”: race-baiting attacks, prejudice and bias even prior to his election.

Note that he didn’t accuse all whites of rage, or most, just some — and that some were incessant.  To believe him wrong is to say that virtually no whites demonstrated race-baiting, prejudice, or bias about Obama.  That would be hard for even O’Mara to convince a rigged jury of.  Out of all the articles on the topic, his was pretty much in line with the reaction of a lot of Trayvon supporters.

The article was posted at 7:45am eastern time.  For a while, at least, there was little reaction to it.  Then, at about 1pm eastern time, Breitbart published this:

2013-07-16 white rage breitbart


And a flurry of tweets using the hashtag #WhiteRage was unleashed:

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Click to enlarge

At 3pm Twitchy.com joined the fray with a posting entitled “Awesome: Race-baiting Salon article sparks hilarious outbursts of #WhiteRage“.  Yep, it’s always hilarious whites have temper tantrums!

By day’s end, over 20,000 tweets had been posted using the hashtag #WhiteRage (compared to none the day before, and about 50 on the 13th). What kind of Tweets? Tweets generally mocking the notion of “white rage”, disputing the notion of racism being alive in our country, or bemoaning the plight of whites…

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This sort of behavior is common on Twitter, where people taunt others — but I’m sure it’s always jarring to the person involved to see it unfold.  At least for Mr. Williams, most of the people didn’t bother to @ mention him in their tweets, and so only a few hundred of the snarky posts showed up directly on his timeline.

The irony in all this is as unavoidable as it is sad: for what was demonstrated was not so much humor (as one person claimed in objection to a comment I made earlier), but, in fact, the very white rage Mr. Williams wrote about: race-baiting attacks, prejudice and bias.  Or, put another way, these Twitter users felt a certain privilege to mock the writer along with a certain confidence that their mocking would be looked upon favorably.  Regardless of whether you agree with Mr. Williams’ conclusions or not, doing a white-supremacist wave through Twitter stadium is surely the best way to prove his point. 

Tuesday Morning (7/16) Update:

This Twitter storm fizzed out faster than most.  Overnight the number of #WhiteRage posts came to a standstill and they show little sign of picking up this morning.  But the article is off the front pages of Breitbart and Twitchy, so the mob has moved on to their next outrage du jour: the Oakland protests and U. Penn professor Anthea Butler…