One of the legacies of the Obama presidency is that “white male” as a term of embarrassment has now transcended the hothouse of the campus and gone mainstream. We are lectured by media figures, celebrities, and politicians ad nauseam that the November election is really about a new America of diverse minority groups, gays, feminists, and greens pitted against a dying and shrinking number of old white guys. Sometimes that narrative requires absurd assumptions.
If blacks vote this election in ratios of 97% for Obama, it is not really proof of racial solidarity, but because Romney somehow is a racist. In this regard, consult the wisdom of Louise Lucas, a Virginia state senator, who is part of something called the Obama “Truth Team”: “What I am saying to you is Mitt Romney, he’s speaking to a segment of the population, who does not like to see people other than a white man in a White House or any other elected position.” Note that Lucas adduces no evidence to back up her slander.
In turn, Romney supporters allegedly have employed racial “dog whistles”—coded language like “golf,” “welfare,” or “cool”—intended to call out white racist males who favor Romney by supposed margins of 40% to 60%. Again, examine the logic—when various minorities prefer Obama by margins of 70% to 97%, we are to assume that they are both enlightened and that Romney is a racist; when white males vote in far greater percentages for Obama than do minorities for Romney, we assume they are racist and illiberal. That white males usually vote for the more conservative candidate, regardless of race (ask John Kerry), is ignored.
You’re Pale, Not Me
Harry Reid, the rather old, white, wealthy, and grumpy Senate majority leader, recently remarked that “the day after the election 17 angry old white men will wake up and realize they just bought the country.” I am not as angry, old, white, or wealthy as Harry Reid, so I assume he has better claims on membership in that guild than I—and millions of white male others.
Radio host Richard Fowler joked to rather pale, unexciting, and male Bill Press on the latter’s TV show that the Republican National Convention was “pale, stale, and male.” Giddy on hearing the glib stereotype, and apparently assured that his own liberalism meant that he was not included in it, Press chimed up that they were “old farts.”
Not long ago, an upscale, well-paid host on MSNBC by the name of Melissa Harris-Perry attacked Paul Ryan as a “wealthy white man.” Ryan, of course, makes a lot less than does Harris-Perry. A bit earlier, the rather boring and very white NBC host Brian Williams asked Mitt Romney whether he would pick as his VP candidate another “incredibly boring white guy.” These examples of the new racial polarization could be multiplied, from the idiot rantings of a quarter-educated Cher to supposedly serious entertainers like James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Chris Rock (the 4th of July is now “white people’s independence day”) to the ranting of the Congressional Black Caucus to “put y’all back in chains” Joe Biden.
Rules of Racialism
There are a few general rules in these new daily racial obsessions. Stereotyping is not just permissible, but welcomed as long it is never reciprocal. If one were to answer Fowler by invoking skin color in a derogatory way of those not “pale,” he would lose his job. If someone watching Ms. Harris-Perry were to use her language to say that he resented a “wealthy African-American woman” ranting on TV, he would lose his job. Try using the word “niggerization” as did someone calling himself Touré, and see what happens.
Generally the ignorant in politics and the media take their cues from the even more ignorant in academia, who for nearly half a century have sermonized that race or gender stereotyping is applicable only to, and mostly welcome when aimed at, white males. Given supposed “power imbalances” and a “history of oppression,” all but white males can stereotype with exemption. When a Harry Reid or Bill Press takes up the white male slur, they take their cue from the archetypical university president, who for decades has entrenched his own position, and deflected criticism from his usual mediocrity, by warning the campus community of the -ologies and -isms of the white male like himself. I have known about 20 college presidents; they often had one thing in common: they usually upon retirement never followed their own prior loud tutorials. Instead, once out to pasture, the whiny liberals sought out exclusive communities and social engagements with mostly rich white people like themselves.
So liberal white males never imagine that their own slurs could easily apply to themselves. We are to believe that Harry Reid is not old, white, and rich by the fact that as a liberal he caricatures others less liberal with such labels—and feels that his own rather startling success in making money while in office does not mean that he qualifies as wealthy. The same is true of Bill Press or Brian Williams, who likewise trust that their loud liberal credentials offer a pass from the smears that they level at others. I doubt that either thinks that a John Kerry or John Edwards is rich and white, or if he were, that his race or gender matters.