In 100 years or so, it’s really going to annoy history students that during a resurgence of overt white supremacist groups, “special snowflakes” is a term that means someone ELSE. And doesn’t even refer to the dramatic snowstorm/drought pattern of a climate change turning point.
Part of me is hoping the Dark Enlightenment types (Steve Bannon, etc) start calling themselves “darkies,” to give future undergrads further conniptions, Democratic-Republican Party style.
[Kim asks for an explanation of this joke]
Romie: There are groups of people in the U.S. and Britain right now who think there needs to be more emphasis on the special and unique contributions of white northern Europeans to world history. It would make a certain amount of sense if they called themselves special snowflakes, because they spend a lot of time talking about white purity (like, pure as the driven snow) that comes from colder northern countries (like snow) and how it’s special (special snowflakes). Instead, if they post a meme about special snowflakes, it’s a way of insulting pro-multicultural liberals.
This is not to suggest that everyone who says “special snowflake” is a white supremacist, and we all know that there’s no relationship between the two things. (Linguists’ best guess is it comes from a line in Fight Club, in which the protagonists feel the self-esteem movement has not adequately prepared them for the degree to which the world doesn’t care about their individual circumstances, but it is now being used to mean something more like “coddled millenials.”) However, in 100 years, people who run into the term “special snowflakes” in a source document about early 21st century political arguments will probably try to make a connection between the term and the movement, if my experience of history class and trying to fit the big picture together is any example. You’re always trying to find patterns, and sometimes you are completely wrong.
For example, the Democratic-Republican Party was Thomas Jefferson’s and James Madison’s party, and a lot of high school and college students waste time trying to figure out how it split and became the Democrats and the Republicans, when that never happened. It’s a coincidence of names.
Meanwhile, the Dark Enlightenment is a kind of obscure term that a group of neo-reactionary anti-democratic philosophers coined to describe themselves, and their blogs were influential to the formation of the alt-right movement, which overlaps considerably with the newly chic white supremacy I’m talking about. (Dark Enlightenment = opposite to the enlightenment. Closing borders, closing off feminism, opposition to the idea of human rights and universal suffrage. In a nutshell, it’s the idea that if wealthy white men have disproportionate power and opportunity, it’s because they’re better and deserve to be in that position, and it’s oppression to ask them to curtail any of their freedoms out of consideration for their inferiors.)
My joke is that since “darkies” has historically been a pejorative term for dark-skinned people who the dark enlightenment tend to define themselves in opposition to, it would be funny if it was also a term for fans of the dark enlightenment (dark-E’s). Or essentially: It’s funny how flexible language is and how easy it is to misunderstand someone (or to hide your own meaning).