Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Big Week For Racism

So, Don Sterling and Cliven Bundy decided to take off their hoods and smell the 21st century.  It did not go well for them.

But I made one of my masochistic forays into the Yahoo! comment section on the story about Sterling.  Big mistake.

You see, from the Yahoo! you will learn that the real racists are black people, because - as we know - when black people point automatic weapons at law enforcement officials, everyone just chills out and the New Black Panther party wins again.  And we all know that all those black billionaires are SO racist and won't hang out with white people at all.

This is the siege mentality of the aging right on full display.  It's never about whatever legitimate grievance the left (or in this case the center) may have.  They are always the true victim from Al Sharpton or Trayvon Martin or Barack Obama.  It is always white people who are suffering from affirmative action.

And facts are irrelevant.  The Supreme Court has yet to hear a case on whether legacy admissions - which overwhelmingly benefit rich white people - are unconstitutional.  The fact that racial profiling exists, is measurable and real isn't important.

And the sad part is that many of them are not wrong in their sense of victimization.

If you are a 55 year old, middle class white guy your status HAS degraded in America.  But here's the thing: It's not because of black people or illegal immigrants.  The reason "your country is slipping away" is not because of Mexicans or African Americans, it's because the wealth of this country is being funneled to the very top of the economic ladder.

This is the central revelation of Thomas Piketty's book: that the 30 Golden Years of 1945-1975 represent an historical anomaly.  The Rich have the game rigged for themselves.  But for a few decades, we had real economic equality - ironically at the same time we were fighting communism.  And the people who brought you policies that drastically warped the distribution of wealth in the United States did so on the backs of racial fears and prejudices.

Cliven Bundy said something else last week that got little attention.  He said he admired Hispanics for their work ethic and family structures.  My guess is that Bundy sees a lot more Hispanics than African Americans, and that has an effect on his views.

But imagine a world where those angry white men team up with the other working class Americans who feel squeezed from above by a system that perpetuates economic inequality.  A century ago, Tom Watson, a Georgia Populist, argued that whatever hurts a black farmer hurts a white farmer.  It nearly ended his career.  But he tacked right and became a virulent racist.  So, good for him, I guess.

I don't know if we might have an opening for someone to unite working class whites and minorities again, as FDR did.  I think that's the appeal of Elizabeth Warren for many.

But if it does happen, it could be an earthquake.

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