Why Is Identity Politics Evil?

It is understandable that those of us who voted against Barack Obama, the Community Disorganizer, should be upset over his triumph. Like Joe Biden reading an Umberto Eco novel, we cannot help but feel rather listless and disoriented these days. Feelings of vulnerability can very easily transmogrify into anger, so one must never lose one’s sense of humor; apropos, I draw your attention to the New York Times of November 10, in which Maureen Dowd reflects on Mitt Romney’s loss:

Team Romney has every reason to be shellshocked. Its candidate, after all, resoundingly won the election of the country he was wooing.

Mitt Romney is the president of white male America.

Maybe the group can retreat to a man cave in a Whiter House, with mahogany paneling, brown leather Chesterfields, a moose head over the fireplace, an elevator for the presidential limo, and one of those men’s club signs on the phone that reads: “Telephone Tips: ‘Just Left,’ 25 cents; ‘On His Way,’ 50 cents; ‘Not here,’ $1; ‘Who?’ $5.”

In its delusional death spiral, the white male patriarchy was so hard core, so redolent of country clubs and Cadillacs, it made little effort not to alienate women. The election had the largest gender gap in the history of the Gallup poll, with Obama winning the vote of single women by 36 percentage points.

Forgive the lengthy quote; writing like that is harder to swallow than grape Dimetapp. Note, for instance, the cliches attempting to pass for edgy turns of phrase: white guys in mahogany rooms with moose heads over the fireplaces. (Aren’t Bentleys more suitable to these images than Cadillacs?) Dowd really knows how to squat over the page and deliver nuggets of wisdom. And isn’t that just like an intellectual: her only knowledge of millions of Americans (whom she slanders but whose tax money she craves and craves) comes from Edith Wharton stereotypes and episodes of Mad Men.

As a writer, an effective way to tell whether you’re full of crap is to imagine yourself face-to-face with the person or group you’re criticizing and to ask yourself whether you would then have the guts to say out loud what you’ve written for your fawning readers. Oh, I can picture it: Ms. Dowd in front of the unemployed white blue-collar workers in Michigan and New Jersey. “You’re just white patriarchs,” she might say. “Your days in power are over.”

Here’s Ms. Dowd in front of a crowd of white middle-class men in Long Beach, New York, fishing what’s left of their belongings out of modest houses flooded by Hurricane Sandy: “It’s about time men like you put away your cigars and brandy and stepped outside your mahogany country clubs!” And here’s Ms. Dowd in front of the white Marines in the 2nd Battalion in Afghanistan: “All you who voted for Romney represent the dead-enders of white male domination.” (Note: “dead enders of white male domination” actually appears in Dowd’s column.)

I suppose we can’t hold Dowd to such high standards of integrity. After all, she is the author of the following sentences:

When the first African-American president was elected, his supporters expected dramatic changes. But Obama feared that he was such a huge change for the country to digest, it was better if other things remained status quo.

I have searched in vain for any trace of humor or irony in that passage. Since she is serious and thus believes herself to be speaking the truth, Dowd has the responsibility to tell us how she knows the inner thoughts of our president. This is especially important since, if Dowd’s narrative is true, it would mean the president deliberately did not do all he could to ameliorate unemployment and fiscal disaster: the idiotic white masses had simply expended all their brain power on coping with the election of a black president; their exertions left them emotionally incapable of dealing with any more “dramatic changes.” Anyone who can write that and still have the will to resist retiring out of pure shame must also be capable of the following:

The president’s record-high rate of deporting illegal immigrants infuriated Latinos. Now, on issues from loosening immigration laws to taxing the rich to gay rights to climate change to legalizing pot, the country has leapt ahead, pulling the sometimes listless and ruminating president by the hand, urging him to hurry up.

More women voted than men. Five women were newly elected to the Senate, and the number of women in the House will increase by at least three. New Hampshire will be the first state to send an all-female delegation to Congress. Live Pink or Dye.

Reading Dowd’s column, it is clear that she has a fairly impressive vocabulary. The only word that’s missing is “American,” unless it’s appended to a racial modifier or a special-interest group. Therein lies the problem, though Dowd and her audience of “gender studies” poseurs are unaware of it: One of the contradictions of anti-white identity politics is, ironically, its unintended encouragement of white identity politics. I quote the British columnist Nick Cohen, writing here of racial tribalism in the UK: “If polite society stuffs British citizens into hermetically sealed boxes and labels them as the blacks or the Muslims, it is not so strange that people should decide to be the whites and vote accordingly.”

Since Dowd obviously believes it is rational and desirable for women, blacks, “Hispanics,” gays, and all other assorted subalterns to band together, she must at least expect the enemy to do the same. Identity politics, you see, is a self-fulfilling prophecy: fearing some monolithic conspiracy against them, demagogues urge all sorts of groups to merge and fight the power. The alleged oppressors, tired of being slandered, gravitate toward political candidates who eschew the opinions of the identicrats. The identicrats see this as further evidence of the conspiracy against them. The full circle of idiocy is complete.

One method of repudiating white voters (but not their tax money) has been to play the old eugenic game of guilt by phenotype. Some people, ex-journalist Andrew Sullivan being prime among them, have taken to concocting pseudo-historical parallels between Romney’s winning a large share of white male voters and America’s past racial problems. The phony syllogism goes something like this: Romney was very popular with white male voters; many white male voters in America’s past were racist and supported racist candidates; therefore, Romney and/or the white male voters today are racist.

Of course, nobody who thinks this is brave enough to come right out and conclude something so obviously illiterate — which is why the authors of such probing scholarship usually just write the first two propositions and leave the third one to the reader’s imagination as a kind of tacit innuendo. The scholar then responds to critics by shrugging his shoulders and retorting with something like “I’m just saying” when taken to task. (When George Will called Sullivan out on his slander, the latter retreated into the “I’m just pointing out the fact…” defense.) The corollary to their logic is that winning over white voters is a priori a morally suspect thing (always and everywhere attributable to racism), and that winning over minority voters, who are somehow more “authentic,” is a priori a morally righteous thing. Again, no one states this outright; it is, as it were, “coded” in the musings of certain opinion journalists. But ask yourself whether you’d want to be governed by people who think in such a manner, then reflect on who among the two presidential candidates represented those who hold such odious opinions. Since we are all tribalists now, we can indeed shout hail to the chief.


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