‘White Extinction Anxiety’ Trends On Twitter: Do White People Really Fear Dying Off? ‘NYT’ Columnist Explains

What exactly is 'White Extinction Anxiety' and why did it hit the top Twitter trends list? A 'New York Times' columnist has some thoughts.

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Chet Strange / Getty Images

What exactly is 'White Extinction Anxiety' and why did it hit the top Twitter trends list? A 'New York Times' columnist has some thoughts.

The phrase “White Extinction Anxiety” rode the upper reaches of the Twitter trading charts on Monday morning, ranking as high as the fifth-most popular Twitter trend in the United States shortly before noon Eastern Time, according to the Twitter-tracking site Trends24. In fact, “White Extinction Anxiety” ranked just below Making a Murderer and Pawn Stars on the Twitter charts.

Are white people really as obsessed with the possibility that they might all die off as they are with reality TV and true crime documentaries? Some possible answers came from New York Times columnist Charles Blow, whose column in the Sunday Times set off the usual Twitter trend the following morning.

Blow was inspired to pen the column, which he titled perhaps not surprisingly “White Extinction Anxiety,” when he listened to an interview with longtime conservative commentator — and 2000 presidential candidate — Pat Buchanan on The Laura Ingraham Show last week. Buchanan’s comments can be heard in a YouTube video.

In discussing the plight of families who have had their children taken away and incarcerated by the United States government at the Mexican border due to Donald Trump’s policy of family separation, Buchanan, “was not particularly sympathetic to these families’ plights, instead choosing to focus on the demographic danger facing whiteness,” Blow wrote.

Donald Trump, New York Times, racism, 2016 Presidential Election
Right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan, whose comments on white dominance inspired the ‘New York Times’ ‘White Extinction Anxiety’ column. Kris Connor / Getty Images

“The real question is whether Europe has the will and the capacity, and America has the capacity to halt the invasion of the countries until they change the character — political, social, racial, ethnic — character of the country entirely,” Buchanan said in the interview, as quoted by Blow.

“Make no mistake here, Buchanan is talking about protecting white dominance, white culture, white majorities and white power,” Blow commented.

“We are truly dealing here with an ideology of Western suicide,” Buchanan said. “Trump may be on the wrong side politically and emotionally of this issue of separating migrant kids from their parents. But on the mega-issue — the Third World invasion of the West — he is riding the great wave of the future, if the West is to have a future.”

To Blow, the “core” of what Buchanan was really saying amounted to, “White extinction anxiety, white displacement anxiety, white minority anxiety. This is the fear and anxiety Trump is playing to.”

Blow’s point about Trump’s appeal to white Americans appears borne out by exit polling data. According to polls posted by CNN, in the 2016 presidential election, 57 percent of all white voters — approximately six of every 10, voted for Trump, including 62 percent of white men and 52 percent of white women. Only 21 percent of non-white voters cast their ballots for Trump.

In Blow’s analysis, the heavy white support for Trump is due to “white extinction anxiety,” the fear expressed by Buchanan than non-white people will soon become the majority in the United States, causing whites to lose their privileged status based on their skin color.

“White people have been the majority of people considered United States citizens since this country was founded, but that period is rapidly drawing to a close,” Blow observed, citing data from The Brookings Institute released last week that showed that, in fact, the nation’s white, non-Hispanic population was thinking faster than even demographic experts had predicted.

“A signature feature of U.S. demographic change in the 21st century is the aging and decline of the white population, along with population growth among young minorities to counterbalance the trend,” the Brookings study concluded.

Donald Trump, New York Times, racism, 2016 Presidential Election
White people support Donald Trump by a significant majority, while only a small number of non-white voted for Trump, polling data shows. Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

Data also shows, according to the Applied Population Lab at the University of Wisconsin, that white people are dying off at record rates. The APL found that in 26 states, the most ever recorded, deaths of white people exceeded the number of white births in 2016.

While following the election of Trump in November of 2016, many political pundits and even professional politicians attributed (as The Boston Globe noted) Trump’s broad white appeal to that group’s “economic anxiety” and feeling of being “left behind.”

Even Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who opposed eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the primary elections, said according to The Guardian that Trump appealed to the anger of the “declining middle class.”

But a study by University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana Mutz, published in March in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found the opposite to be true.

“Change in financial wellbeing had little impact on candidate preference,” Mutz wrote in her research paper. “Instead, changing preferences were related to changes in the party’s positions on issues related to American global dominance and the rise of a majority–minority America: issues that threaten white Americans’ sense of dominant group status.”

“Trump is president and is beloved by his base in part because he is unapologetically defending whiteness from anything that threatens it,” Blow concluded in his Twitter trending column. “These immigration policies are for people who conflated America with whiteness, and therefore a loss of white primacy becomes a loss of American identity.”