Monday, November 26, 2012

America's New Racism.

According to James Taranto, Obama is institutionalizing racism in so many ways:

The Post focuses on the critics rather than their choice of words. Here's the passage that outrages Jacobson: "Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can't know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy."
 
[image] U.S. House/Wikipedia.org
Rep. Jeff Duncan is suspiciously pale, according to the Washington Post.
 
Let's examine this argument carefully. The Post acknowledges that "we can't know their hearts." But it finds a (literally) prima facie reason to suspect them of invidious motives: Almost all of them are persons of pallor. The Post is casting aspersions on Duncan and his colleagues based explicitly on the color of their skin. And it is accusing them of racism!
 
A couple of other items related to race and politics caught our attention over the Thanksgiving weekend. First, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., an Illinois Democrat and CBC member, resigned from Congress "amid federal ethics investigations and a diagnosis of mental illness," as the Chicago Tribune reports. That sets up a special election to fill the vacancy:
Some Democrats quickly offered to broker a nominee to avoid several African-American contenders splitting the vote in the heavily Democratic and majority black 2nd Congressional District, which could allow a white candidate to win.
This passes with neither editorial comment nor a disapproving quote. It's hard to imagine the same absence of reaction if a group of pols offered "to broker a nominee" with the goal of preventing a black candidate from winning a white-majority district.

Then there's the email from the Obama campaign--yeah, they're still coming, though at a slower pace than before the election--inviting supporters to take a survey. Among the questions: "Which constituency groups do you identify yourself with? Select all that apply."

There are 22 boxes you can check off. Some are ideological ("Environmentalists" and perhaps "Labor"), some occupational ("Educators," "Healthcare professionals"), some regional ("Americans abroad," "Rural Americans"). There's a box for "Women" but none for men, though there's a separate "Gender" question, which hilariously has three options: "Male," "Female" and "Other/no answer." Touré will no doubt soon inveigh against the "otherization" of the Gender No. 3.

What caught our attention were the ethnic categories: "African Americans," "Arab-Americans," "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," Jewish Americans," "Latinos" and "Native Americans" (the last, of course, refers to American Indians, not natural-born citizens).

Notice anything missing?

One explanation for the absence of a "white" or "European-American" category (or, alternatively, several dozen specific European ethnicities) could be that whites tend to vote Republican, and the campaign is interested in Democratic-leaning voting blocs. But several other of the Obama survey categories lean toward the GOP, too: "People of faith," "Rural Americans," "Seniors," "Small business owners" and "Veterans/military families." Counterpart groups that are Democratic-leaning or swing-voting are missing from the list, too, including nonbelievers, urban and suburban dwellers, and the middle-aged (though there are categories for both "Young professionals" and "Youth").

The reason for the absence of a "Whites" category is that white identity politics is all but nonexistent in America today. That wasn't always the case, of course: For a century after the Civil War, Southern white supremacists were an important part of the Democratic Party coalition. They were defeated and discredited in the 1960s, and the Democrats, still the party of identity politics, switched their focus to various nonwhite minorities.
Obama's re-election was a triumph for this new identity politics--but the Post's nasty editorial hints at a reason to think this form of politics may have long-term costs for both the party and the country.

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