Nothing is stupider or more pathetic than white males bitching about unfairness in America. We’ve been giving ourselves special treatment since we hit that rock.
But thanks to America’s steady decline as a place of limitless opportunity, there’s a whole lot of us incensed that minorities and women are helped by programs that promote parity with the people who have traditionally enjoyed the rewards of this soon to be not-so-fecund land now that there’s increasingly less to go around.
Some of the more troglodytic among our kind called it “reverse discrimination” or “reverse racism” whenever a traditionally oppressed minority was given “special” privileges, like being given a protected spot at a prestigious college or enjoying first serve on a government contract as a minority owned business.
Worry no more, my white male compadres.
Always implicit in the “take our country back” rhetoric was that we were clawing it from the uppity females and minorities who had taken our places in line as the real backbone of this country. Those are our shitty jobs with vanishing pensions, damn it. Those are our graduate degrees that aren’t good for much any more.
If PoliticusUSA’s angle on Donald Trump’s signing statement astride the stopgap budget is correct, the special treatment gravy train is over.
I know what you’re thinking. Donald Trump cannot spell the word “tap” on his phone, much less craft a response full of legalese to a budget that he neither read nor had a hand in writing. I’m as incredulous as you are. In toto, if you read the whole nauseating thing, it is the equivalent of I’m The President And nyah nyah nyah. Its thrust is nothing new; it’s just another hopscotch square towards the unitary executive gaining primacy over anything or anyone that seeks to limit its power. Elbridge Gerry called it: we are becoming a monarchy, with a corrupt aristocrat wearing the funny hat, or in Donald Trump’s case, the scotch-taped power tie.
But anyway, included is a sop to bitchy, insecure, aggrieved white males who don’t want to share their station with anyone. In it, somehow, the intent of the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendment has been turned against itself. For example, used to be a time when the Fourteenth tried to help the enslaved and marginalized become equal. Now we all know that the promise of the Fourteenth took almost a century to realize itself in jurisprudence with Brown. And even that was like a trip to the dentist for regional white men. But anyway, it had legal dynamite in it whose explosion is still being heard today, and thankfully so 99.9999% of the time. It ended with the clause “equal protection of the laws” and no one was to be denied.
But now white men are apparently on unequal footing with groups like women, blacks, and Indians:
“My Administration shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender (e.g., Division B, under the heading “Minority Business Development”; Division C, sections 8016, 8021, 8038, and 8042; Division H, under the headings “Departmental Management Salaries and Expenses,” “School Improvement Programs,” and “Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program Account”; Division K, under the heading “Native American Housing Block Grants”; and Division K, section 213) in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.”
Taken at face value, in Trump’s America the long march to a balance of opportunity has become lopsided again, and this time around white males are the ones that need protection from the oppressive minorities.
Further through the looking glass we go.
Over, under, sideways down.
When will it end?
When will it end?
I’ve seen a lot of thinkpieces about why the Democrats were defeated last month. Where did we go wrong? Did we make bad choices? Is there something structurally unsound in our outreach?
It is natural for us to reflect like this after being stunned. But we Democrats and good liberals are beating ourselves up unnecessarily. So badly, in fact that we are considering abandoning our core mission, which is to stand up for the mistreated and misunderstood elements of our society.
In other words, we did not lose by employing what is called “identity politics”. The phrase seems to have taken on a pejorative quality. We’re afraid to say it, lest the other side use it against us.
Fact: Hillary Clinton was more popular than Donald Trump.
Fact: The nature of the Electoral College screwed us.
Fact: Donald Trump tapped into white ressentiment. Bigly.
Everyone seems to be forgetting the real causes of why we could not win this past election. Instead, many of us seem ready to tear up our coalition and retool the Democratic message.
I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want to defend the voting rights of minorities. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not defend equal pay for equal work. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want to defend the right to love who you want to love. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want immigrants to live in fear.
These problems, whether we like it or not, are shackled to specific identities and we’re foolish to pretend otherwise.
The beginning of the liberal revolt against identity politics here in America can be traced back to what appears to be a misreading of some quotes in a speech by Bernie Sanders two weeks after the election. He allegedly said:
“Boston Magazine reported that an audience member told Sanders that she wanted to become the second Latina elected to the U.S. Senate and asked for his advice. Sanders responded by urging the crowd to move the Democratic Party away from what he called “identity politics.”
“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ That is not good enough,” he said, according to WBUR. “What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industries.”
Sanders’s big finish: “One of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”
This caused an avalanche of editorializing about how we should stop focusing on things like race, sexual preference, sex, and culture. That’s how we lost the election, they say. This British fop exemplarizes just how far this thinking goes:
“In America, as in Europe, older, white men are the only group that liberals can abuse and exclude with impunity.
British liberals, of whatever party, have spent the past six months fleeing one trauma after another, hurling insults over their shoulders. But as John Stuart Mill said: “He who knows only his own side of a case, knows little of that.”
The apostles of identity liberalism have fallen into Mill’s trap. They see authoritarianism in others, but not in themselves. They see discrimination in others, but not their own.”
If those older white men are anti-democratic, then yes, they will be excluded and dismissed. If they are racists and homophobes, you bet we don’t need you in the tent. I don’t think that just because someone was brought up in a different “time”, he’s allowed to hold discriminatory values. There’s nothing authoritarian or discriminatory about it-I’m intolerant of intolerance and I think I can speak for most liberals when I say that.
I could dig up other examples of this backlash against identity politics, much of it penned by white males who identify as liberal. They believe that class structures need to be attacked instead. Well, I have news for them-being “working class” is an identity too. There’s really no escaping the understanding that groups have similar and often unique problems. Furthermore, there’s intersections aplenty with your class status and your “identity”.
What I’m going to say is important, at least to me: groups were not created by liberals. Groups were created when the first African American received the first lash on their back. Groups were created when men refused to allow women to vote or do what they feel is right with their body. Groups were created when the first National Guardsman fired on the first striking mine worker. Groups were created when gay people were murdered because of religious hatred. When we started treating people different because they were just that-different or lesser-that’s when we created identity politics. We’ve been divided because that is how we chose to be. And speaking directly to those myriad groups who have had negative experiences in a white/hetero/christian dominated society is no sin-it’s what makes us good. We hate the injustice. And we will beat injustice’s ass someday soon. It is our principal fight.
Fortunately, it is very likely Bernie Sanders was misunderstood . “Going beyond identity politics” means we can go deeper and still not abandon civil rights. Interweaving class struggle and identity politics is exactly where we need to go as strategies for winning. It’s unclear at this point how many poor white Christian males can be brought to our side, if of course that’s the quarry we are chasing. The propaganda has been laid on thick and they vote against their own interests time and time again, because the right wing plays a nasty version of identity politics themselves. In the meantime, let’s stop being ashamed of what it means to be a liberal.
Even kids know that we were awful to Native Americans. We destroyed their way of life, forcibly converted them to our religion, and took their land with impunity. Then we killed a lot of them. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they don’t want to remember that dark period in their history. On the other hand, it’s the type of thing you don’t want to forget, lest it happen again.
In light of this, St. Louis University has removed from their campus a statue of a white preacher, converting some Native Americans on their knees. It’s an offensive tableau, and the school was right to remove it and send it to an art museum. But some white people couldn’t deal, and one of them was Tucker Carlson. You’re not going to believe this, but he accused the school of “reverse racism” against whites on Fox “News”:
Carlson didn’t buy the idea that the image of a European missionary towering above two Native Americans while holding a cross and converting them could possibly suggest white supremacy (or Christian supremacy), however.
“Why? Because he was a white supremacist?” Carlson asked, missing the point of the decision by a wide margin. “No! Because he was white!”
Tucker then tore off on a rant, saying that the college was “committing an act of racism” and “[DeSmet’s] skin color is itself considered so offense by the school that the statue itself can no longer be on display” –even though the statue will still be on display in the Museum of Art.
Poor, poor white people. So put upon. They’ve been discriminated against, killed, disenfranchised and enslaved. Right? Oh, maybe I’m talking about the history of every non-white person in America. My bad.
Tucker, like most conservatives, does not know the meaning of racism. Racism occurs when you feel yourself to be superior to another group. Because of that, “reverse racism” means absolutely nothing. I have yet to run into the minority who feels itself “superior” to whites. It’s just not their bag. It’s ours. You don’t have a choice to be “racist” as the antagonized group.
Fuck these Whitey-McWhitewhites like Carlson and his ilk. They have unbelievable balls whinging that they are being discriminated against. They don’t know what that means. Because they never went through that horror, and never will.
UPDATE Dec 8, 2016: This page gets hit at least 1-3 times a day. A virtual cookie for someone who can tell me how they got here, because Google masks its search terms to me.
UPDATE Dec 9, 2016: First part in a series on why he’s still an asshole up now.
UPDATE Feb 22, 2017: I didn’t forget, I’m just slow. More assholic behavior from Carlson.