Sam SmithAmerica is trapped in bipolar prejudice. Conservatives dislike blacks, latinos, women and gays while liberals dislike white Americans who don’t agree with them, especially men. Conservatives are encouraged by cultural paranoia and liberals by cultural narcissism.
The conservative prejudices have been more than adequately publicly outlined, but the liberal side remains largely under cover. Both sides condemn, but neither is effective at converting, and so things just get worse.
While cultural discrimination has always been a problem for conservatives, it’s only in the past few decades that liberals have turned on a former major constituency, white men.
I first noticed it in the late 1970s. In 1979 I wrote:
Liberals, in planning strategy, tend to forget that they are a minority. Historically, the way that minorities in America have done best – as with the Irish and Jews – is to find ways to lead the majority rather than simply oppose it. One historian, for example, has noted the influence of the Irish bar as a multicultural gathering place on the political influence of the Irish in places like Chicago. We don’t think of things like that these days.
Secondly, liberals tend to lump all whites together – witness the frequent talk of white entitlement and white privilege. This does not work either morally nor politically any better than the right lumping all blacks or women together.
Thirdly, the overwhelming factor of economics is ignored. For example, whites comprise, by one recent estimate, 41% of the nation’s poor. That’s nearly twice as many poor whites as blacks. There are more white than black children living in poverty. There are more unemployed white males than black males. But in recent decades, liberals have turned their back on such matters and tend to treat white males as though they all had power. Not surprisingly, a large number of white males without power have resented this.
The irony is that concentrating on economic politics would bring various parts of America far closer together than emphasizing ethnic or gender differences that liberals claim aren’t meant to matter anyway.
Martin Luther King understood the problem, as Morris Dees noted recently. Three years before his assassination, King gave a sermon in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia, in which he said:
And a year before ‘I Have a Dream’ , King was in Puerto Rico, telling an audience, “We must not seek to rise from a position of disadvantage to one of advantage, thus subverting justice. .. For God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men, and brown men, and yellow men; God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race, and the creation of a society where all men will live together as brothers.”
A major turning point away from such a view was the Poor People’s Campaign, started by King before his death. Other activists took the lead. Robert T. Chase of George Mason University writes:
Another little noted factor was that the black concentration in Americans cities would make it easy for black politicians to gain power without having to lead whites. It seems astounding today, but when Marion Barry first ran for mayor in 1978, he had so much white support that the Afro American newspaper ran a column claiming that he was part of a plot by whites to take over the majority black city. Within one term, however, Barry had moved to a more politically comfortable heavily black constituency.
Today, liberals make up less than a quarter of the electorate. Where do they find the support to get anything done? This is a key question that has not been seriously considered for several decades.
A better politics and a happier country would more likely come from changing some their current practices and thinking.
A few suggestions: