White extinction anxiety: Why this curious race-related term trended on Twitter

White extinction anxiety: Why this curious race-related term trended on Twitter


Don’t look up the phrase “white extinction anxiety” in a world history textbook. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find it, since the most relevant Google search results for the term lead to an opinion piece published just hours ago.

What does the phrase mean? The author of the column, the New York Times op-ed writer Charles M Blow, argues that Donald Trump’s contentious “zero tolerance” immigration policy panders to white Americans’ fear of losing their demographic majority in the US.

“Strip all the other rationales away from this draconian immigration policy. This is at the core: White extinction anxiety, white displacement anxiety, white minority anxiety,” Blow writes. “This is the fear and anxiety Trump is playing to.”

On Monday evening, Twitter listed “white extinction anxiety” among its worldwide trends. And Blow found out about the surge in interest.

The news agency Reuters says that between May 5 and June 9, the Trump government’s “zero tolerance” policy “led to the separation of 2,342 children from their parents at the US-Mexico border”.

The US president has since signed an executive order which says it’s his government’s policy “to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families [a reference to illegal immigrants] together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources”.

There’s one exception: Immigrant families can’t be detained together if a parent “pose[s] a risk to the childs welfare”.

Some of the detainees under the policy are Indians.

A protester holding up a sign as mayors from US cities were stopped from entering a children’s tent encampment built to deal with the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in Tornillo, Texas, on June 21. (Photo: Reuters)

MIXED REACTIONS TO COLUMN

Charles Blow cited data from a US non-profit and a university research group to argue that America “will soon be a majority-minority country” — meaning that the majority of Americans will be non-white.

“Trump”, he wrote, “is president and is beloved by his base in part because he is unapologetically defending whiteness from anything that threatens it, or at least thats the image he wants to project. It is no more complicated than that.”

On Twitter, many (but certainly not all) appeared to share Blow’s views — or at least, stood on the same side of the spectrum of opinion.

WATCH | TIME magazine’s latest cover photo shows Trump staring down at sobbing immigrant child



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