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The PJ Tatler

by
Robert Wargas

Bio

January 7, 2012 - 10:58 am

Charles M. Blow, whose name reflects perfectly his metaphoric function at the New York Times, has demonstrated the fundamental incoherence of left-wing identity politics in his latest column:

“As we’ve gotten around to casting votes to select a Republican presidential nominee, the antiblack rhetoric has taken center stage.

You just have to love (and despise) this kind of predictability.

On Sunday, Rick “The Rooster” Santorum, campaigning in Iowa, said what sounded like “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

Leaving aside the fact that conservatives and libertarians say the same thing about everyone, including white people, let’s consider Blow’s innuendo in the context of a wider “progressive” narrative: that any opposition to the Leviathan state is intrinsically a nostalgic bid for a Dixiecrat America. This is usually coupled with the idea that any acknowledgment of black welfare use is itself “racist,” so that the two sentiments’ appearing together is, a fortiori, the zenith of “antiblack rhetoric.”

The natural reaction of conservatives and libertarians to this sort of charge is to say, “How is it racist to not want to give blacks–or anyone, for that matter–other people’s money? How is it racist to want opportunity instead of entitlement?”

You have just fallen into the trap. Prepare for the response that you are still a racist because what you have just said is “coded,” the key to such cipher being safely nestled, of course, in a vault at DNC headquarters.

There is, however, a more subtle but vital flaw to this “progressive” view of things. And it is quite simply this: the crude image of the poor black person on welfare is integral to left-wing identity politics. Is their entire worldview not crafted on the notion of an oppressed proletariat—whether black, “Hispanic,” female, or gay—struggling under the “structural discrimination” of a white bourgeoisie? To listen to a “progressive” talk about blacks in America is to be fed a series of revolting stereotypes about a ghettoized underworld. Insofar as middle- and upper-class blacks exist, it is only because they have “slipped through the cracks” of the machine against all possible odds.

The corollary of this sociology, of course, is that blacks need welfare—hence the view that opposition to welfare is racist. It follows, then, that people like Blow believe welfare is crucial to blacks. Is this not exactly what Santorum was criticized for, along with Newt Gingrich—for operating on the premise of black dependence? Those who yell “racism” on a crowded op-ed page are thus guilty by their own criteria, and make The Grey Lady appear even more drab and dull.

Robert Wargas is a contributor to PJ Media. A native of Long Island, he was educated at the City University of New York and Yale University, and has also written for The Daily Telegraph of London and The Weekly Standard. Outside of opinion writing, he has worked as a professional historian for a major research laboratory and university, documenting the history of biotechnology since the 1970s. He has also reported for both weekly and daily newspapers, including Newsday. He maintains a personal blog/website at robertwargas.org. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWargas
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