Noah Rothman
January 2, 2014

Feminist songwriter and liberal icon Ani DiFranco is the latest to be forced to don the scarlet letter of the 21st Century: “racist.” But that descriptor has become insufficient – far too few Americans still resemble the cartoonish bigots of antiquity that inhabit liberal imaginations. Today, the nondescript and malleable term “white privilege” is applied to anyone displaying racial thought deemed inappropriate by the self-appointed arbiters of such matters.

After bubbling up from the fever swamps of the blogs that document their every passing grievance (a Google search of reactions to this incident reveals hundreds of entries and will sap you of your faith in humanity), the still mildly respectable Salon has taken on the controversy surrounding DiFranco’s decision to host, and hastily cancel, a feminist retreat at the Nottaway Plantation in New Orleans. The outrage centers on the fact that the site housed African-American slaves prior to their liberation in the Civil War.

DiFranco, a true believer herself, folded the minute that her fan base began to roil with offense over the fact that sordid American history did, in fact, occur on that bit of Louisiana soil. But DiFranco’s retreat is not enough for Salon contributor Brittney Cooper. “That these places continue to represent sites of untold horror, violence, and humiliation for Black people is the very kind of knowledge against which white privilege inoculates,” she declared.

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