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In “The Retreat to Identity,” Ross Douthat, the New York Times’ token conservative concludes:
Do you identify more with a black teenager or with a cop? With protesters menaced by playing-soldier cops or with business owners menaced by the protest’s violent fringe? With various government spokesmen or with, say, Al Sharpton?
Again, this is not unusual; this is how political division and racial division often interact.
And there’s still nothing inevitable about this interaction. Rand Paul, the Republican who’s pushed hardest to change the old paradigm on race and crime, is still talking about criminal justice reform in the wake of Ferguson. The path to a less identity-driven kind of politics is still open.
But it’s clearer today how easy, how human, it will be to leave that path untaken.
Or to put it another way:
A phrase pops into his head from out of nowhere. “Everybody… all of them… it’s back to blood! Religion is dying… but everybody still has to believe in something. It would be intolerable— you couldn’t stand it— to finally have to say to yourself, ‘Why keep pretending? I’m nothing but a random atom inside a supercollider known as the universe.’ But believing in by definition means blindly, irrationally, doesn’t it. So, my people, that leaves only our blood, the bloodlines that course through our very bodies, to unite us. ‘La Raza!’ as the Puerto Ricans cry out. ‘The Race!’ cries the whole world. All people, all people everywhere, have but one last thing on their minds— Back to blood!” All people, everywhere, you have no choice but— Back to blood!
Shortly after Tom Wolfe’s 2013 novel debuted, John O’Sullivan of National Review had one of the best takes on its chief theme, (hidden behind the NRO subscriber paywall, but possibly readable in its Google cache) describing it as a battlefront report on the warring “Tribes of Post-America:”
Wolfe’s vision of the America emerging from the chaos of modernity is eerily similar to the Rome of Antiquity before Constantine. Where that antiquity was pre-Christian, this New Antiquity is post-Christian. Its original brand of Protestant Christianity no longer influences the politics, institutions, and laws of the nation it once shaped. The WASP elites, for whom Protestantism was long a mark of respectability and soundness, no longer even pretend to believe. It is a genuine religious faith for only a tiny number of people. Its secular expressions, “American exceptionalism” and “the American Creed,” are in only slightly better shape. The former provoked President Obama into an embarrassed meandering as he sought to reconcile his cosmopolitan disdain for it with its popularity among the rubes; the latter has been redefined into its opposite, an umbrella term covering a multitude of tribes and their different customs, namely multiculturalism.
This transformation from the Great Republic to the New Antiquity has happened in large measure in order to accommodate the growing number of immigrant groups forcing their way into the metropolis. It is a colder and crueler world: Inside the cultural ghettos, the new tribes of post-America retain much of their old affections and loyalties; outside them, they treat others with wariness and distrust. And they are slow to develop a common attachment to their new “home.”
Hey, it’s not like any of their mansions or office buildings were damaged as the elite MSM egged on the vandals in Ferguson. Or as someone asked on Twitter today in response to the rioters in Ferguson emerging as the lead candidates for Time’s Man of the Year issue:
— Leah…Geek (@LeahR77) November 30, 2014
But didn’t Time already essentially give this same gang their Man of the Year award at the end of 2011?
Related: “The key to Obama’s struggle with white working class voters is not ‘white,’ but ‘working,'” Glenn Reynolds writes in his latest USA Today column.
And from Twitchy, a “Story to watch: Teens beat motorist to death with hammers in St. Louis.”
Update: Was Ferguson a failure for the MSM? That Depends On Your Definition of ‘Failure’