We’ve all heard Samuel Johnson’s famous adage about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel, but I’ve always believed it’s racism that’s the last refuge of a scoundrel. Race is what you cling to when you have no meaningful achievements of your own to display. It’s a safe space for the unaccomplished. That’s why there’s been such an explosion of racism on the left, especially among some of its less successful demographic groups. When you have nothing to offer, or when you just don’t want to make the effort to be successful or productive, well…at least you have your skin. And the left has proved to be expert at making everything about skin. With so many layabouts, welfare cases, entitlement whores, and blame shifters among the masses, leftist intellectuals in politics, the media, and academia gain lots of traction by continually reassuring certain constituencies, “Hey, man, your skin color makes you special! Your skin color makes you deserving!”
I was struck by how pervasive this kind of thinking has become when I read an article a few days ago about Harvard’s new “blacks only” graduation ceremony (don’t worry—it’s not segregation, because even though nonblacks are forbidden to participate, they’re welcome to watch. “Hey, Rosa Parks, whatcha bitchin’ about? You can still see the front of the bus, right? Isn’t that good enough?”). The “separate but equal” grad ceremony has received fawning coverage in the mainstream media (of course), and one of the black graduates who’s been front and center promoting the event is Courtney Woods of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. In a GoFundMe campaign in which she begs for $4,200 for living expenses (she received only $975 from her obviously racist friends and family), Woods wrote, “I aspire to earn a Ph.D. in social policy to serve as a professor, community organizer, and social justice torch-bearer.” In an article in The Boston Globe about the whitey-not-welcome ceremony, Woods said, “I can only imagine how special I will feel when I walk across that stage and be able to honor my identity and my struggle at Harvard.” And there you have it. This poor child needs to “feel special,” and she’s been taught that the only way to do so is to “honor” her “identity.” Leftist scoundrelism at its finest (and don’t worry—Harvard is holding a separate ceremony for its Latino students, because after all, we don’t want anyone to feel excluded from the exclusion!).
None of this should be a surprise to regular Takimag readers. We’ve seen many, many similar excesses of nonwhite racial identity politics over the past decade. What fascinates me (not in a good or bad way, but just as a neutral observer) is the possibility that whites might follow suit. And not just whites on the right.
“The left is on a roll these days when it comes to labeling everything that is (supposedly) ‘white’ as racist.”
The left is on a roll these days when it comes to labeling everything that is (supposedly) “white” as racist. Just last week here in L.A., a prominent bicycle-rights advocate who was running for city council crashed and burned (metaphorically) when the left declared bike lanes to be racist. And not just bike lanes, but also the enforcement of safe driving laws that protect cyclists. In other words, the two things that bicycle activists hold dearest—bike lanes and safe driving awareness—are now racist. The arguments? Safe driving enforcement will lead to “racial profiling,” because apparently nonwhites are such shit drivers that any attempt to keep bikers safe will by necessity lead to drivers of color being locked up (at least that’s the reason suggested by L.A.’s favorite Stalinist weekly). And bike lanes? Why are they racist? Simple, stupid. Bike lanes lead to white people entering black communities in a manner in which blacks are forced to see them. No, I’m not kidding. That’s the new big thing out here. Blacks don’t want to see whites in their neighborhoods, showing off their ofay devil skin and scaring the chillun. No joke. Two months ago, a black entertainment-industry insurer who lives in Leimert Park, a traditionally black L.A. neighborhood, organized a Saturday-morning jogging club made up of his friends and colleagues, most of whom are white. The fact that a bunch of white devils thought they could jog through a black neighborhood set off such a massive firestorm of protest, it became Metro section front-page news in the L.A. Times.
The Times also covered the controversy surrounding an “incident” in which a photo appeared online showing (as described by the Times) “four white women piled in a car, presumably going to or coming from the mall” at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Yes, that was the story. Four white women “piled” in a car (don’t most vehicles hold four comfortably?) were seen either coming from or going to a mall in a black part of town. That was the entire story. A separate Times piece explained how dog walking is a menace in black communities, because it’s a “white” thing. Remember when a bunch of black celebrities defended NFL dog-torturer Michael Vick by claiming that the concept of being kind to dogs is a “white thing”? Well, apparently so is walking them.
So of course bike lanes are racist, because only white people use them. A piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outright stated it: Cyclists are white, so spending city money to create bike lanes to keep them safe is racist.
Jogging, cycling, safe driving, kindness to animals. These have all been deemed “racist” because they’re “white.” Here are a few other recent gems:
Being a “foodie” (appreciating good food and drink) is racist. Worse than that, eating healthy is really racist! Yes, health food is the new KKK. And milk is the new Nazi Party. And veganism is so racist, it’s like the KKK and the NSDAP rolled into one. In fact, nutritional guidelines themselves are genocidally racist. So are vitamins. Yes, vitamins. And Celestial Seasonings herbal tea. The Food Pyramid is racist because it’s not specifically tailored to the unique nutritional needs of black people. Vitamins are racist because some of them are specifically tailored to the unique nutritional needs of black people. Because it’s racist to say that black people don’t have unique nutritional needs, and it’s racist to say they do. Keeping up?
Encouraging the use of solar power is racist; we get this straight from the horse’s ass (i.e., Al Sharpton). And the push for marijuana legalization? Racist as shit. And hiking in the woods? Don’t even get me started on that. The wilderness itself is racist, because “escaped slaves” used to be confronted with “forests full of danger.” For people of color, “the wilderness, historically, is dangerous territory,” claims a Tokyo-born half-white/half-Asian wilderness racism “expert” in the L.A. Times. Ironically, her website shows her posing next to a tree. Kudos to the tree for restraining its racism for the sake of the photo.
Jogging, jogging paths, cycling, bike lanes, not running over cyclists, hiking, the ethical treatment of animals, food appreciation, veganism, health food, herbal tea, nutritional guidelines, vitamins for health, solar power, legalized weed. All racist, because they’re the product of white culture and “privilege.” See the problem, though? These are all things that white folks (especially those left-of-center) generally do like. These are things that many (perhaps most) white people associate with good. This is a dangerous strategy for the left to pursue, associating racist with good in the minds of young whites. Worse, while accusing whites of being racist for doing things that are seen as healthy and positive, many people of color are exhibiting genuine racism—exclusion, segregation, and words of hatred and bigotry.
The end result of the left’s self-defeating strategy is that more and more whites will be practically forced to adopt a kind of defensive racial pride, the kind that goes, “I’m not saying I’m better on account of my skin color, I’m just saying I’m not bad because of it.” There’s a beautiful irony here. A century ago, black Americans were the ones forced by aggressive white racism to adopt exactly that kind of defensive racial pride. And now the roles have been reversed, and even here in ultraleftist L.A., I’ve recently seen five of my young white liberal friends pushed rightward after being verbally abused online or in person for being white. In one case, an early-20s blond actress friend was chewed out when she left a slow-moving line at Walmart to move to a shorter one. The black woman who had been in front of her in the first line accused her of racism. “You left this line because you can’t stand being near black people, you racist white bitch,” the woman screamed as the cashiers allowed the rant to continue. Later on, my friend admitted to me, “I guess for the first time I see why some people voted for Trump.”
Speaking of whom, even if Trump turns out to be a dud, there’s no question that his campaign helped make right-leaning whites a little less sheepish when it comes to countering racism from the left. In spite of the Nazi-hugging sieg-heiling clods who can only be aggressive in their white pride, a more benign racial awareness among right-of-center whites is bound to continue to grow, in part because Trump is proving to be kind of a dud. The very notion of “conservative principles” lies in shambles at the moment. I hate to say it, but this New York Times op-ed is a must-read on that topic. As the author points out, these days it’s no longer about what conservatives are for, but what they’re against (the left). “Big picture” conservatives are dead in the water. Complex economic theories? Big-government vs. small-government debates? The intricacies of trade? Who cares anymore? GOP leaders were always all talk anyway, and now we have a Republican president who’s all double-talk. As rank-and-file conservatives become increasingly alienated from big-picture issues, they’ll downsize their worldview to the personal.
One can say that an increase in racial consciousness is a fitting and inevitable result of the times we live in. Social media has become dominant in most of our lives, and what does social media do if not reduce everything to the personal? “How does this affect me…here are my thoughts of the day…here are my feelings on that issue.” Social media is total absorption with self. That’s pretty much what a racial-identity-centered worldview is, too.
There’s a reason that 90% of the stories that go viral on social media deal with race or other “identity” issues. That’s what resonates with us now that the political has truly become personal.
If racism is indeed the last refuge of scoundrels, we are certainly on the path to becoming a nation of them.