Ross Douthat, "Race in 2028". Sunday, Monday, whatever
REGULAR readers, if any, may have tumbled onto the idea that I think a species of wingnut, as well as marginal breeding partners at the edges of its range--collective noun Reagantot, for its having passed, peristaltically, through the educational system circa 1976 through 1988--seems to suffer disproportionately from the modern trend towards perpetual adolescence--and I'm the last one to throw that around as an insult--rarely remarked upon and almost never diagnosed. In fact the absence of clinical interest was itself a Reagan-vintage phenomenon (dating from the Nixon war on the Librul Media, and coming into flower in the Carter administration, to be precise) wherein practically the entire litany of anti-fluoridationist complaint, a suite of arguments whose frequent transparent phoniness had been readily apparent to everyone just a couple years earlier, was suddenly accorded a position of authority previously unrecognized: the Throne of Opposition, or something. It entitled public Republicans (the ones remaining after the Goldwater purges) to a seat at every forum, on the grounds that the Librul Media had unfairly restricted such events to persons holding defensible ideas they'd arrived at through reasoning. And this wasn't all; in a society upholding the principle of free exchange of ideas, the paranoid rantings of its religious maniacs and the denizens of its inbred, excessively solarized, and home-distilled corn whiskey besotted sub-populations are, after all, more grist for the brewer of malt liquor. What was new was the idea that Opponents had a right to expound their views, or those of their long-dead imaginary Semite avatars, under a little-known rhetorical rule of No Tag Backs. Throughout the Seventies, accelerating after the Unfortunate Permanent Outsider Party lost a President through No Fault of its Own, Right wing positions on any and all issues--the B-1, the ERA, energy independence, affirmative action--were presented as if a) they were the only known alternatives to Librul Democrat hegemony and, as they represented the view of everyone in America not then holding the reins of power, b) not themselves subject to the same sort of scrutiny. (This is best represented, today, by Abortion, a debate still defined, in many, if not most respects, by the opponents of the law: when does Life begin? not How come you exclude contraception? or What about charging women and doctors with murder? which are still side-stepped and double-Dutched.)
Two notes of historical interest, before we move along to some of the more unpleasant consequences: the Republican party was allowed to milk the Outsider gimmick straight through to the early months of the Cheney administration, and to climb back aboard the moment it lost again, and, as some of you may recall, having re-established effective Dixiecrat control of the Congress in the 80s, it proceeded to eliminate the Fairness Doctrine.
As I was saying, before I interrupted me, you've got entire cadres of sickly white guys who matriculated at the University of Republican Grievance, and for whom this rhetorical victory sans debate, this Revolution seems to have come as a sort of personal vindication of their resolute, third-chair trombone, A-V club nerd, anti-hippie lack of youthful charisma. And who, it seems, are Never Going To Get Over It. David Brooks. Professor Reynolds. Goldberg. The Power Trio. Name a position any one of them holds today which could not have been predicted, Kreskin-like, and sealed in an envelope in 1983. Every conceivable political problem--aside from the question of revitalizing his repudiated party, somehow--was answered by St. Ron. (Brooks, today, suggests that the downfall of his party came when its "conservative Southern leaders" showed no understanding of its Moderates, nor Swing-State representatives, as though this condition has not obtained since the days of his potty training. And this is the Baedeker of our socio-political landscape! Christ, I've spent a small fortune over the years on various preparations designed to relieve obnoxious realities for all too brief periods, and this man winks 'em away with nothing stronger than the radiation from his monitor and a permanent supply of hallucinatory political beliefs.)
Enter Ross Douthat, and enter perhaps the single functioning piston still driving this stuff: Affirmative Action! It's Unfair to White People! We've Solved the Problem, and besides, They're Gonna Outnumber Us Soon, Anyway! And the President is a colored man.
Someone, anyone, explain to me how, in 2009 C.E., an apparently functioning human being, fully capable of manipulating a keyboard and mastering enough of a word processing program to produce recognizable English sentences, yet imagines that The Great Injustice of Affirmative Action (Though, of course, Necessary at One Time To Correct the Horrors of Slavery, which We All Despise, but Enough Already) which, arguendo, may have inconvenienced a few qualified White people over the past four decades, somehow trumps what every black, red, or brown man, woman, or child suffered in these environs for four centuries? It is the result of an Ignorance, a Willful ignorance, so profound that not even appeals to cupidity can rescue it.
It really is breathtaking how any little impetus brings out the Race Fear in these people. We watch an endless parade, and the far-too-occasional frog march, of the White Male Ivies who looted the savings of millions, and the solemn pledges of other White Male Ivies assigned to get to the bottom of it, provided we prop the culprits back up first, and this is somehow overshadowed by the fact that some guy in Holland, OH, couldn't get into an apprentice plumbing program because they're beginning to address the fact that no person of color had any chance whatsoever of getting in until the late 20th century. Yes, yes, yes: an injustice to one is an injustice to all; it's just too bad white people didn't discover that principle before it landed on them. In the meantime, Ross, your own party (unless, like Brooks, you mastered the ability to phase in and out of it by watching Star Trek) is presently in the ninth month of its latest bender because the President is half-African. God knows what you'd be saying if it had been Hispanics emptying the gun store shelves post-election. Log in your own eye and all that, Ross. What were they teaching you guys in Prep school?