November 27, 2012

JAMES TARANTO ON OBAMA’S LEGACY: Most-Racial America: Antiwhite bigotry goes mainstream.

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?

Racism is only bad when the wrong people are victims. Plus this:

One way of holding together such a disparate coalition is by delivering prosperity, so that everyone can feel he’s doing well. Failing that, another way is by identifying a common adversary–such as the “white male.” During Obama’s first term, the demonization of the “white male” was common among left-liberal commentators, especially MSNBC types. The Post has now lent its considerably more mainstream institutional voice to this form of bigotry.

This seems likely to weaken the taboo against white identity politics. Whites who are not old enough to remember the pre-civil-rights era–Rep. Duncan, for instance, was born in 1966–have every reason to feel aggrieved by being targeted in this way.

The danger to Democrats is that they still need white votes. According to this year’s exit polls, Obama won re-election while receiving only 39% of the white vote. But that’s higher than Mitt Romney’s percentage among blacks (6%), Latinos (27%), Asian-Americans (26%) or “Other” (38%). It’s true that Republicans suffer electorally for the perception that they are hostile to minorities, but Democrats also stand to suffer for being hostile to whites.

The danger for the country is that a racially polarized electorate will produce a hostile, balkanized culture. In 2008 Obama held out the hope of a postracial America. His re-election raises the possibility of a most-racial America.

The Democrats gave us Jim Crow. Demonization and division are what they know. It’s easier to change the objects than to change the strategy.