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Works and Days

You’re a White Male; He’s a White Male; Everyone’s a White Male—But Me

September 11th, 2012 - 12:00 am

Rules of Racialism

There are a few general rules in these new daily racial obsessions. Stereotyping is not just permissible, but welcomed as long it is never reciprocal. If one were to answer Fowler by invoking skin color in a derogatory way of those not “pale,” he would lose his job. If someone watching Ms. Harris-Perry were to use her language to say that he resented a “wealthy African-American woman” ranting on TV, he would lose his job. Try using the word “niggerization” as did someone calling himself Touré, and see what happens.

Generally the ignorant in politics and the media take their cues from the even more ignorant in academia, who for nearly half a century have sermonized that race or gender stereotyping is applicable only to, and mostly welcome when aimed at, white males. Given supposed “power imbalances” and a “history of oppression,” all but white males can stereotype with exemption. When a Harry Reid or Bill Press takes up the white male slur, they take their cue from the archetypical university president, who for decades has entrenched his own position, and deflected criticism from his usual mediocrity, by warning the campus community of the  -ologies and -isms of the white male like himself. I have known about 20 college presidents; they often had one thing in common: they usually upon retirement never followed their own prior loud tutorials. Instead, once out to pasture, the whiny liberals sought out exclusive communities and social engagements with mostly rich white people like themselves.

So liberal white males never imagine that their own slurs could easily apply to themselves. We are to believe that Harry Reid is not old, white, and rich by the fact that as a liberal he caricatures others less liberal with such labels — and feels that his own rather startling success in making money while in office does not mean that he qualifies as wealthy. The same is true of Bill Press or Brian Williams, who likewise trust that their loud liberal credentials offer a pass from the smears that they level at others. I doubt that either thinks that a John Kerry or John Edwards is rich and white, or if he were, that his race or gender matters.

So we come to another disconnect: almost all of those who level these charges are well-off. A Reid, Chris Matthews, or Harris-Perry seems to think that the white males that they stereotype are uniformly of their own privileged class: white guys of the sort they see daily on Wall Street, in the Senate, or on campuses — but not quite like the vast majority of those who instead irrigate in Bakersfield, run a machine shop in Lansing, or wire houses in Houston. I would have some respect for a Harry Reid had he give his grumpy old white man speech to a room of white male laid-off workers, or had Brian Williams suggested that his Akron Chamber of Commerce audience was “incredibly boring,” or had Harris-Perry had one of her psycho-dramatic meltdowns at a NASCAR rally.

Does the cheap smearing also earn psychological penance? The more Chris Matthews and Cokie Roberts hear racial dog whistles, the less they have to live in integrated districts or send kids to inner-city schools. After Harry Reid cited “white men,” was he freed then to talk of Barack Obama as a light-skinned Negro who talked like a white person when he wished? The more Joe Biden warns that “they” are going to put “y’all in chains,” the more it was then permissible for him to have once said of Barack Obama that he was a “clean” black and a “nice-looking guy.”

Just “Them”

With this fixation on race and gender, note how individualism fades and character matters less, as we regress into cardboard caricatures of human beings. In the world of a Harry Reid or Robert Fowler, white males can be pale or old, but are not mere individuals who may intermarry or have less money and fortune than females or non-whites — unless they pass muster as liberals and thus are given free rein to stereotype others by their race and gender.

Yet I would resent sharing anything like “white maleness” with Harry Reid, an unscrupulous and unhinged demagogue. I have far more in common with the Mexican-Americans I live among than with Sen. Reid; in that sense, some of those most responsible for the decline in American values and culture have been white males in Hollywood, the universities, the media, and politics. Again, the more white males talk about pernicious white males, the more they seek to be exempt from their own advocacies. The Harvard Law faculty, Obama’s campaign advisors, the ACLU, and the major motion picture companies are far less diverse than the average white middle-class public school.

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