The Real Face of White Privilege

Brian J. Bartels

by James A. Bacon

Behold the face of white privilege. Brian J. Bartels, a 20-year-old Amazon employee, was identified as one of the culprits involved in destroying a police car in Pittsburgh during demonstrations there. After police searched his residence and confiscated two guns, six spray-paint cans, gloves, books and other belongings, he turned himself in. There are literally thousands of young people (mostly men) like him around the country, and it is increasingly evident that they have been largely responsible for the outbreak of vandalism and violence in marches around the country protesting the death of George Floyd, including here in Virginia.

Local government officials around the country are waking up to the reality that young men like Bartels constitute a national problem.

“When I talk to mayors across this country, the same thing is happening in city after city,” said Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto. “This group are anarchists, and their mission is destruction. To just throw the table over tor the sake of throwing the table over.”

Anarchists played a role in the Richmond riots as well. Said Richmond Police Chief Will Smith in a press conference two days ago: “We have intelligence that we’re working on presently so that we hope to be able to file charges … We have people coming from across the country who have traveled many states to be here. We know that this is an organized effort. We are committed to trying to identify those who are behind it.”

Scene from the RIchmond protest/riots. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Call this movement Antifa or whatever else you want — the label is not important. What matters is what it is: It is a loosely organized group of anarchists who communicate mainly through social media and are committed to creating mayhem around the country in the name of fighting “fascism.” Their characteristic tactic is using low-level violence — vandalism and street-fighting rather than murder and terrorism — to intimidate people. Their definition of “fascism” is extremely broad. It encompasses almost everyone to the right of center.

So, why do I call this new the face of white privilege? First, because the movement is comprised mainly of white youth. Second, because much of the nation’s political class and national media have been covering for them, downplaying their transgressions and belittling the conservatives who call attention to them. Here in Virginia, the apologetics were most visible in the white-washing of the anti-fascist movement’s participation in the notorious Unite the Right riot in Charlottesville. The contribution of left-wing radicals to the violence that day has largely been expunged from the local and national memory.

And the third reason for describing these anarchists as the beneficiaries of white privilege is that, I suspect, their mommies and daddies have been covering for them, too — making excuses for their behavior if not subsidizing it outright.

At last America’s ruling class is waking up to reality. The anarchists’ vandalism, broken windows, and looting got out of hand, and it threatened to discredit the broader peaceful protest movement with which the ruling class is in sympathy.

The national media has been remarkably incurious about who these youths are and how they became so alienated from society — not surprising, really, when you consider that the national media, while not ignoring them totally, has largely downplayed their existence out of a desire to portray all political violence as emanating from the right.

I’ll hazard some guesses about the anarchist phenomenon. I’ll be the first to confess that I have no first-hand knowledge — I do not count anarchists among my acquaintances, so I am drawing upon highly impressionistic evidence. Consider what follows to be conjecture that I’m willing to modify as more evidence comes in.

Let’s start with the fact that most anarchists are white. Not all, but most. I don’t think that’s up for dispute. Most are college-educated. I don’t know if they have completed their degrees or not, but most received college-level educations. We can conclude thereby that they imbibed the rhetoric of radical, anti-establishment leftism so predominant at many colleges and universities. I would further conjecture that very few of these young men come from poor or struggling family backgrounds. Their mommies and daddies paid for most or all of their educations — schooling which they, for the most part, feel entitled to. I would not be surprised to find that a disproportionate number of these kids come from privileged backgrounds.

There is a cliche among conservatives that many anarchists live a parasitical existence in their parents’ basements. I have no idea how fair that is. I do expect that some still get subsidies from mom and dad. I will hazard a hypothesis that many are under-employed — they are not working at jobs for which they think their educations qualify them. The marginal existence of under-employment likely feeds their sense of the system’s injustice. If we could examine the psychology of these kids, I expect we would find that they shift the blame for their personal problems to others — their parents, the system, whatever — rather than their own life decisions.

There is plenty of real injustice in the world, but the anarchists are doing nothing to solve it. I don’t see them volunteering in soup kitchens. I don’t see them volunteering to build houses for the poor. I don’t see them donating their money to charity. It’s so much more exciting to travel from hot spot to hot spot and wreak havoc.

Other than the fact that he lives in a nice neighborhood, which would lead one to believe he is not a member of the suffering proletariat, I don’t know Brian Bartel’s life story.

Google Maps view of the 2500 block of College Street in Pittsburgh, where Bartels lives

But if I had a son who did what Bartels is charged with doing, I would tell him, “You’re on your own, Bub. If you enjoy white privilege, it doesn’t come from me. You can raise your own bail money, and you can find your own lawyer. If  you think your life sucks, take charge of it. Get off your ass, stop playing computer games and get to work. The universe doesn’t owe you anything. If you think there is injustice, work to make the world a better place. Vandalizing police cars and smashing store windows does nothing to make the world a better place. I’ve worked diligently to get what I have. You’ve rejected my values and my way of life, so don’t come to me looking for a handout. Until you become a productive, contributing member of society, we’ve got nothing more to say to each other.” 

There are currently no comments highlighted.

38 responses to “The Real Face of White Privilege

  1. And unfortunately the judge probably let him out on bond — all these rioters/looters should stay in jail until their court date…….. they have no business on the street where they will only continue their lawlessness…… but our turnstile judges don’t care as they live in gated communities.

    • Hey, he might have COVID! Gotta let him go….

    • Yep. The two NYC attorneys who were caught red handed fire-bombing a police car were immediately granted bail. “One night of behavior is not a basis on which to reject somebody’s ability to make rational decisions,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Gold said.

      Let’s see – the police won’t enforce the law because they are told by liberal politicians it might inflame things (see the Pittsburg Gazette article on Bartels). The courts release convicted prisoners and don’t see an ongoing threat from well educated people who firebomb police cars during a riot.

      Get you AR-15s, your ammo, your Sig Sauers, more ammo … If you can tell me how many guns you own then you don’t own enough guns.

      • You are making a jump from arrest of NYC attorneys to “courts releasing convicted prisoners.” I don’t think those attorneys had been convicted of anything; they had just been arrested. I don’t know NY bail laws, but most arrested people are entitled to bail. Just because they have been released on bail does not mean they do not have to appear in court later and serve time, if convicted.

        Regardless of what you may prefer, we don’t suspend constitutional protections for persons arrested in demonstrations/riots. If they are convicted, they should lose their law licenses, regardless of whether they serve time.

        • But we do suspend constitutional protections when Governor Northam thinks healthy people should be placed under house arrest.

          The riots in New York haven’t ended. I would think keeping people who fire bombed police cars locked up until the riots rend is at least as justified as placing an entire state under house arrest.

  2. It seems Mr Bartels works for Amazon.

    “A black woman “stepped in front of Bartels and pleaded for him to stop, he gave her the finger and then jumped on the car hood and stomped the windshield (breaking it further),” according to the complaint.”

    White privilege indeed.

    Given that guns were found in his house … seems like a perfect opportunity to “red flag” an idiot.

    • I had seen the info about the two lawyers on Twitter, and that one I did doubt. The tweet was someone claiming to a classmate of one of them, at their shared Ivy League law school. So that was true…..Oh, those two will end up as heroes — I easily could see Herring hiring them down the road, especially if they can keep their NY bar licenses. AG’s need attorneys with bar credentials in other states….

  3. We certainly learned from the Al Qaeda and ISIS movements that young men – white and brown, can be radicalized to take extreme actions.

    This is done so in an organized fashion with “thought leaders” and those reaching out to them and encouraging them – thus the comments about organization. Social Media is the easy tool to do so, all protected by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the 1st amendment of the US Constitution.

    I would add to anarchists there are also white supremacists as well, both wanting to take down the liberal, modern, post-modern economic neo-liberal system and replace it with… ?

    And, we have foreign adversaries in Russia (with Kompromat on our POTUS), China, and Iran that would be all too happy to assist, and Russia is and has been, while we fiddle. Give Russia credit, they studied us and our inventions, they are succeeding beyond their wildest dreams – Hat Tip to them, they are winning.

    Why don’t young black men do this? Well, I think they know what holy hell would be brought down on them if they did because they are seeing what happens to them when jogging while black or when handcuffed face down, not resisting arrest.

  4. YEAH!!!!

  5. “Until you become a productive, contributing member of society, we’ve got nothing more to say to each other”

    “Your privileged” is the new “your racist”, designed to neutralize your argument. You see, being able to leave the house to go to work is something only people of privilege can do and the fact that you don’t understand this just proves your “privilege”; at least, thats what I’ve seen in online comments by the keyboard protesters.

    • C’mon y’all sing it with me…. the Fairfax Blues….

      Welll, I woke up mornin’
      Looked out and saw the Mercedes was gone.
      Yeah, woke up this mornin’
      Looked out and the Cedes was gone…
      Mixed a tini and practiced putting on the lawn.

      • I wish I lived in the land of Richmond
        Confederate flags in the wind are twitching
        Look away, look away look away Richmond elite
        In the early mornings my teeth get flossed
        In a land where the Civil War was never lost
        Look away, look away, look away Richmond elite

        • You know, I think I’ve finally figured out that the “Virginia Way” entails the belief in the following two things:

          1)Half of what’s wrong with Virginia is because of the “War of Northern Aggression”

          2)The other half of what’s wrong with Virginia is because of all the Yankees that have moved here

  6. “Other than the fact that he lives in a nice neighborhood, …, I don’t know Brian Bartel’s life story.”

    But then you go on to say in great detail what his life is like…

    “But if I had a son who did what Bartels is charged with doing, I would tell him, “You’re on your own, Bub. If you enjoy white privilege, it doesn’t come from me. You can raise your own bail money, and you can find your own lawyer. If you think your life sucks, take charge of it. Get off your ass, stop playing computer games and get to work. The universe doesn’t owe you anything. If you think there is injustice, work to make the world a better place. Vandalizing police cars and smashing store windows does nothing to make the world a better place. I’ve worked diligently to get what I have. You’ve rejected my values and my way of life, so don’t come to me looking for a handout. Until you become a productive, contributing member of society, we’ve got nothing more to say to each other.”

    Were all of those details just whole cloth, or some sort of Freudian kinda thing?

    • Thumbs up!

      Reminds me of a debate in law school about affirmative action. A wild and wooly, but respectful, discussion. The professor asked one of the supporters of affirmative action, who was a member of a group that, based its share of the state and national population, was overrepresented in the legal profession, if we need to take actions to ensure underrepresented groups are in the legal profession, don’t we also need to place limits on those who are overrepresented or we will wind up with a system where other groups are underrepresented. Brilliant question. The student, who was a good friend of mine, literally freaked out.

      Watch out when there’s other people’s money, rights, chances, etc. involved. The sharks come a grabbing.

      • Blind squirrel moment for me, but the acorns are two feet deep and so… White Privilege is like spinach in your teeth or your body order. It’s what other people see and smell. You’re, like the Tide ad says, nose blind.

        But, I can tell you a sure fire tell that’ll let you know if you have it.

        If you’re blaming Trump, or Northam, or the City Chair, you’re stinking with it. If what you see are looters and vandals and not people protesting 300 years of atrocities — equal to the Holocaust just spread thinly over time — and a rigged justice system still kicking them as they protest then… uh, you got a little something,… no, just to the right… your right… almost… no don’t bother. Go brush your teeth.

        • There are a helluva lot of white people who sure as all hell are not and have not been privileged. But a helluva lot of privileged white people are more than happy to let those other people – some of whom HRC called deplorables – settle up with black Americans. Like my friend from law school.

          Riddle me this. Why doesn’t Biden announce that he won’t accept the nomination but would urge the Democratic Party to nominate Deval Patrick or Kamala Harris? Like BHO, they are black persons. It’s very easy to be woke unless it costs you something. It’s like snotty little Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. He could acknowledge he failed to address the Chauvin and now Officer Tou Thao fiascoes and resign. There are several blacks on the city council who could likely run in an election and win easily. Shouldn’t those with the most privilege give up the most?

          • Nancy_Naive

            They are A problem, not THE problem. Like I said,”nose blind”.

            The problem is systemic. Individually not every white person’s “privilege” is even detectable nor could they “settle up”, but that doesn’t mean the system ain’t still rigged and they COULD benefit.

            Take prison sentencing. The numbers are just there. Black men receive sentences longer by a factor of three than whites for the same crimes. It’s just there, but it’s not like nothing can change it.

            But there are worse privileges… Pink Privilege. The same stats tell us women receive sentences 1/10 that of a man for the same crime.

            Restitution may not be possible, but fixing it for the future certainly is. Men aren’t born to obey laws; laws are created to obey man. Change them.

        • Nancy — you are so right this time, as always.
          just look all around Appalachia —— that ‘White Privilege’ hoax is rampant!

          • You don’t need to go as far as Appalachia to find broke white people. There are plenty of them scattered all throughout Virginia.

  7. … you see, your opinion or suggested action (whatever it is) shows you don’t understand because “you’re privileged” and because “you’re privileged” you can’t understand… a circular, ad homien designed to guilt-shame people on a emotional level.

  8. I made the context of that passage crystal clear: “If I had a son who did what Bartels is charged with doing, I would tell him…”

    Any more questions?

    • So, if you had a son, he’d be privileged. Or, did you just not recognize that?

      • Well, there’s one privilege he wouldn’t have: Dad wouldn’t come downtown to bail his ass out of jail.

        • Don’t sell yourself short, James. Even Dahmer’s Dad still… well. And that Huguely kid’s parents.

          You might not jump in front of a bus to pull your kid to safety, self-preservation is involved, but throwing money in an effort to blunt the teeth of the US justice system wood chipper before your kid gets sucked in?

          I’ll give you your fantasy, but you’re really not that twisted. But, if you are, politics might be in your future.

        • You would reach for your wallet so fast you’d tear a hole in your pants.

  9. They were known as trust fund kiddies back in my day.

    • Still are… and not that many black people have trust funds dating back to the 1800s. Hell, or even the 1900s.

      • My trust fund dates back to the day I started working.

        • Mine too, but.. did I benefit from being white? I think maybe yes. Dad joined the Navy in 1938 and made it his career. But, since he wasn’t black, he wasn’t restricted to mess cook, or steward or the jobs that were nearly 100% black sailors, and it led to promotions and a commission. So? I don’t know.

          • For ever military success story like your dad, there are people who join the military and end up disabled, broke, and on painkillers, their career ended due to an injury incurred while in service. Many of them are white.

  10. I’m having flashbacks to the anti-Vietnam marches and riots.

  11. What happens if the riots spread to HQ2 in Arlington or Google HQ in Mountain View?

    • they will open the doors and offer the shirts off their backs, their lunch in the frig, and their i-pads for these fellow earthlings in need to material satisfaction…….and offer to drive them home, then hand the car [electric of course] keys to the people making their voice heard.

    • Lol. The snowflakes at those companies would jump into their Tesla’s and drive like bats out of hell away from the first rioter showing up on the first Google map near them. Their biggest concern would be wether they could find enough charging stations to get deep into Trump Country where they’d feel safe.

  12. But yet he’s being arrested and charged. Where’s the blacks being charged for looting? White privilege is like god. Just because you want it to exist doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t

    • Hundreds have been arrests for looting, arson, assault, etc. All across the USA. If you think none are black, you are just intentionally blind.

Leave a Reply