Victor Davis Hanson on “The Sources of American Anger:”
Behind the anger over the Arizona immigration mess, the Ground Zero mosque, the economy, and the new directions in foreign policy are some recurring general themes that reverberate in each particular new controversy. In sum, they explain everything from the tea parties to the wholly negative perception of Congress to the slide in presidential popularity.
1. Two sets of rules. The public senses there are two standards in America — one for elite overseers, quite another for the supposedly not-to-be-trusted public. The anger over this hypocrisy surfaces over matters from the trivial to the profound. Sometimes the pique arises because the spread-the-wealth, we-all-have-skin-in-shared-sacrifice presidential sermons don’t apply to those who do the preaching, as in the president’s serial polo-shirted golf excursions or Michelle’s movable feast from Marbella to Martha’s Vineyard.
More profoundly, an Al Gore, a Timothy Geithner, a John Kerry, a John Edwards, a Charles Rangel — the luminaries who call for bigger government, higher taxes, and more green coercion — now appear to the public as disingenuous, living lives in abject contradiction to the utopian bromides they would apply to others. So too with the media. The opinion makers at a failing New York Times, Newsweek, or CBS lost readers and viewers not just because of changing technologies, but because of incessant editorializing in which the educated and affluent, the winners in our system, berated the less educated and less well off, the strugglers in our system, as bigoted or selfish or both.
How, for example, can Americans be asked to pay higher power bills in a recession to subsidize wind power, when the green Kennedy clan worries about windmills marring its vacation-spot view?
2. The bigot card. In reductionist terms, the public now accepts that when particular groups fail to win a 51 percent majority on a particular issue, they resort to invoking racism and prejudice — odd, when candidate Obama promised a new climate of unity and tolerance. Moreover, that disturbing trend has something to do with the president himself, who has injected racial grievance into everything from the Skip Gates controversy to the debate over the Arizona immigration law.
When the open-borders interests, or the gay-marriage advocates, or the adherents of the Ground Zero mosque cannot convince a majority of Americans that their agenda bodes well for the country, they almost instinctively fall back on the charge that America is xenophobic, homophobic, or Islamophobic. Yet the public infers that these charges reflect sour grapes rather than honest analysis: Had Arizona legislators or California voters supported the progressive agenda, then, as with the 2008 Obama victory, they would have been praised in Newsweek and on NPR for their moral sense and compassion. In short, the bigot card has played itself out and is now not much more than a political ploy to win an argument through calumny when logic and persuasion have failed.
Think back to America in the mid-1960s, during the Civil Rights revolution; with a still-racially polarized South. Perhaps someone more familiar with the television era will correct me, but I’m not aware of a broadcaster as liberal as Walter Cronkite teeing off on his viewers the way that the MSM has in recent weeks.
Despite Time claiming they’re the new nirvana or whatever their slogan is, that can’t be a way to build business in a diverse media economy.
(Via Christopher Cook of Modern Conservative.com, who also links to a prescient Charles Krauthammer essay that’s also well worth your time.)