Doggett’s dead-on analysis of identity politics – from 1998

posted at 12:36 pm on March 13, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, I recalled the story of how Howard Metzenbaum and the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee attempted to smear John Doggett during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Hot Air reader Shyla asked if that Doggett was the same person as the one who wrote a scathing criticism of liberals and identity politics in 1998, and it turns out to be the case. Doggett became a talk-show host who embraced conservative thought and turned his back on liberalism shortly before the hearings, and the explanation of his disillusionment resonates in the Geraldine Ferraro flap this week:

When I started my career as a legal services attorney in 1972, I thought that liberals really cared about the poor, the oppressed and people of color. Twenty-six years later, I have learned that while some have good intentions, many liberals are closet racists. They claim to be “sensitive, progressive and concerned,” while in reality far too many of them truly do not believe that blacks or Latinos are as smart as they are. In fact, their liberal orthodoxy cannot exist in a world where blacks and Latinos no longer “need” their help.

Strong people of color threaten bleeding heart white liberals. This tension has existed since the days of the abolition movement. In the 19th century, Frederick Douglass had to fight his white “brothers” so that he, an ex-slave, could speak out against slavery at abolition meetings. The history of white liberalism is a history of their refusal to respect Americans of color who defied white liberal orthodoxy. We saw it most recently when white feminists refused to acknowledge the significant contributions of black women in the fight for suffrage. …

To this day, black Democrats ask me how Clinton could fight for a crook like Webster Hubble and not stand by Lani Guinier. To this day, black Democrats ask me how Bill Clinton could abandon a black woman who was his friend when George Bush stood tall for Clarence Thomas, a man Bush didn’t even know. To this day, black Democrats ask me why Bill Clinton has only white males in his inner circle when George Bush had black men in charge of the military and White House relations with Congress.

Doggett isn’t exactly a doctrinaire conservative, either. He has spoken out for slavery reparations and tangled with fellow convert David Horowitz over the issue. His opinions on identity politics come from both historical and personal perspectives, and Doggett pursues them passionately.

Looking at this, one can see the same issues in the Ferraro flap and the new controversy over Jeremiah Wright’s ranting from the pulpit of Barack Obama’s church. Ferraro on one hand acknowledges that identity politics gave her a boost, but then voices resentment that it also boosted Obama to a level equal to that of Hillary Clinton. Wright goes for the more direct approach, saying that Hillary Clinton has never had to hear the N-word thrown at her in anger, nor castigated by “her own people” for not being “white enough”.

All of this comes from an idea that people are commodities rather than individuals, which is what angers Doggett so much. He got challenged by a white person for not being black enough — ie, not mindlessly following the liberal line. Ferraro, Hillary, Obama, and Wright all perpetuate in one way or another the same notion: that people are commodities who should follow identity politics in order for authenticity, except when those identity politics put them as individuals at a disadvantage.

Doggett understood this ten years ago, and tried to warn people of the meltdown the Democrats will experience in 2008.


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an idea that people are commodities rather than individuals

Hmmm….Now I wonder where this idea comes from….? So, identity politics is capitalism’s fault?

Grow Fins on March 13, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Grow Fins on March 13, 2008 at 12:40 PM

No, it’s a natural outgrowth of slavery, where people actually were commodities. Bravo, Democrats.

James on March 13, 2008 at 12:45 PM

In fact, their liberal orthodoxy cannot exist in a world where blacks and Latinos no longer “need” their help.

That sums it up. Perfectly.

Corky on March 13, 2008 at 12:48 PM

Ed, I’ve just reread your post with the transcript of Metzenbaum’s attempt to smear Doggett, linked by The Anchoress in her piece, “Why I left the Democrat party.” The upside of the Democrats winning Congress in ’06 was that I could leave the party knowing that I wasn’t abandoning the losing side for the winning side, to paraphrase Whittaker Chambers. Thank you for your fine work

mymanpotsandpans on March 13, 2008 at 12:48 PM

Isn’t it amazing when people, black or white, have common sense and tell it like it is? Good for Doggett.
L

letget on March 13, 2008 at 12:52 PM

Agreed. The liberals are racists. And blacks overwhelmingly vote for them because they are blind and can’t see what’s going on. Virtually the entire race.

Did I mention the liberals are racists?

freevillage on March 13, 2008 at 12:54 PM

The things with which John Doggett wrestled continue to vex black conservatives.

unclesmrgol on March 13, 2008 at 1:00 PM

All of this comes from an idea that people are commodities rather than individuals, which is what angers Doggett so much. He got challenged by a white person for not being black enough — ie, not mindlessly following the liberal line. Ferraro, Hillary, Obama, and Wright all perpetuate in one way or another the same notion: that people are commodities who should follow identity politics in order for authenticity, except when those identity politics put them as individuals at a disadvantage.

Bravo, Ed.

baldilocks on March 13, 2008 at 1:04 PM

Conservative = a liberal that has grown up.

Nice article.

cannonball on March 13, 2008 at 1:06 PM

And not just 2008. Identity politics is in fact the enemy of democracy–everywhere it has become institutionalized, it leads to ghettoization and the rule of local bosses, as in the ‘millet system’ of the old Ottoman Empire. Europe is already going down this road–if we follow, we might as well forget the Constitution and our history and everything else that contributes to the the American identity.

Hope P. Muntz on March 13, 2008 at 1:10 PM

Nice work again Ed.

omnipotent on March 13, 2008 at 1:12 PM

In fact, their liberal orthodoxy cannot exist in a world where blacks and Latinos no longer “need” their help.

Read the novel Black No More by George Schuyer. This is a ferocious satire written in the 1930s. When a treatment makes Black people white, not only does this send the KKK into a frenzy, but also the NAACP and other “helpful” liberals. Where are the downtrodden masses who need them now?

Ellen on March 13, 2008 at 1:14 PM

It’s nice to see that some Liberals will actually listen to reason.

apollyonbob on March 13, 2008 at 1:14 PM

It’s nice to see that some Liberals will actually listen to reason.

Unlike most of black people. Who demonstrably don’t listen to reason, since they vote for Democrats. You know, the racist Democrats.

freevillage on March 13, 2008 at 1:20 PM

…and tried to warn people of the meltdown the Democrats will experience in 2008.

But will they? I think the jury’s still a long way out on that one. I think a lot of their internal contradictions and tenuous alliances are being exposed in the primaries but that doesn’t rule out blindly voting “D” in November, especially against a divided Republican party.

Mr. Bingley on March 13, 2008 at 1:23 PM

Let me simplify things – under Communism, there will always be the proletariat. To the Communist elite [oxymoron that it is], skin color doesn’t matter. ALL people, regardless of race, are minions to be controlled by them. While the minions queue for delicacies like milk, bread and potatoes, the Communist elite will have their collections of cars and their dachas.

The Communist [e.g., Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama] elite in America are no different than the Communist elite under Stalin. The People don’t matter – only power and privilege matters. The Communists in America don’t show contempt for a person because of his/her skin color, or gender – they show contempt for him/her – simply because he/she exists and is not a part of the Communist elite.

Communism is, and always will be, a fraud. A religion of hypocrisy. Their “classless society” is really only one of us versus them. And they wage class warfare every day.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 13, 2008 at 1:24 PM

Nothing new, but refreshing to hear none-the-less. After watching Hillary’s ridiculous, pandering apology for the words of truth spoken by Ferraro there can be little if any hope of a real campaign focused on issues this fall. The framework of identity politics has been completed and it appears unbreakable. Conservatives must accept the reality of a political rout this November, which will be the direct result of political correctness masquerading as the already demonstrated “we are taking the high road” excuse for not calling out the charlatan. Get use to hearing; President Obama.

dmann on March 13, 2008 at 1:29 PM

YES, YES, YES! I enjoy truth. Thanks Ed.

ReaganEvangelical on March 13, 2008 at 1:36 PM

Bravo… I do feel for the guy though. He’s in new territory here and will have few friends who can relate… fortunately, those friends are people of color who have actual accomplishments on their resumes, which explains why they (Powell, Rice, Thomas, Jindal, etc…) are so powerful and so respected by all conservatives.

Self esteem and societal respect is always best when it’s earned and not handed out like Halloween candy by do-good liberals.

Gartrip on March 13, 2008 at 1:50 PM

In the 90s there was a talk show out of Denver. It was hosted by a black conservative named Ken Hamblin. His famous line on the scourge that needed to be defeated by civilized humankind was “liberals first, cancer second”. Hasn’t changed much in a decade or so…

pueblo1032 on March 13, 2008 at 2:22 PM

What will it take for the 90 or so percent of Blacks, who vote liberal, to get out of it? Some of my Black acquaintances talk exactly like Mr. Doggett, and vote liberal anyway.

Entelechy on March 13, 2008 at 2:31 PM

an idea that people are commodities rather than individuals
Hmmm….Now I wonder where this idea comes from….? So, identity politics is capitalism’s fault?

Grow Fins on March 13, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Actually, Marxism equates people-workers-labor as commodities whose value is solely linked to economic value.

Capilaism and Western Judeo/Christian views of liberty and freedom recognize the intrinsic value of an individual that includes far more than economic value. A family is not just an economic unit but the focal point of education in matters of love, character, spirit, culture. This is why the destruction of values, morals, and family is so important to a Marxist. When they are gone, the only thing left is economic value, the most basic and animalistic aspect of human existance.

jerseyman on March 13, 2008 at 2:53 PM

Agreed. The liberals are racists. And blacks overwhelmingly vote for them because they are blind and can’t see what’s going on. Virtually the entire race.

Did I mention the liberals are racists?

freevillage on March 13, 2008 at 12:54 PM

All blacks are blind? Does blind = underclass?

Unlike most of black people. Who demonstrably don’t listen to reason, since they vote for Democrats. You know, the racist Democrats.

freevillage on March 13, 2008 at 1:20 PM

Blacks don’t listen? Effectively deaf = underclass?

I don’t know freevillage so I don’t know if he is being pointedly sarcastic/ironic or explicity raaaaacist! But I must confess that I have a question based on a similar sentiment based on the same observation of voting patterns:

What does it say about black Americans that they vote so overwhelmingly in a one-sided fashion? Sure human nature is what it is (fallen) and there are liberal whites, hispanics, Chinese, Indians, etc. But I don’t know of any other groups which are so monolithic in their voting preferences.

Some may contend that the question itself is racist. Would it help to think of the question not as racist, but as a challenge to prove the “obvious” answer wrong?

urbancenturion on March 13, 2008 at 3:42 PM

What does it say about black Americans that they vote so overwhelmingly in a one-sided fashion? Sure human nature is what it is (fallen) and there are liberal whites, hispanics, Chinese, Indians, etc. But I don’t know of any other groups which are so monolithic in their voting preferences.
urbancenturion on March 13, 2008 at 3:42 PM

Jewish-Americans, by as large a numbers as Blacks, overwhelmingly vote Democratic. I have observed that Blacks, like Jews, are in practice, moderate to conservative in their thinking, but almost always vote democratic.

I don’t know freevillage so I don’t know if he is being pointedly sarcastic/ironic or explicity raaaaacist!
urbancenturion on March 13, 2008 at 3:42 PM

After reading freevillage’s previous comments on this matter, I think that the Hot Air audience will have no problem in determining whether he is doing a poor job at being sarcastic or a good job at being racist.

c3ichief on March 13, 2008 at 4:54 PM

Reading these transcripts, and going back in a time to the poisonous Thomas hearings, I am struck by how Doggett was like the character of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird., except that instead of a black man being charged with raping a white woman, he was a black man charged with kissing a white woman.

Metzenbaum also reminds me of Eliot Spitzer, what with his ruthless, Machiavellian “steamrolling” technique.

What a shameful history the modern Democrat Party has.

Buy Danish on March 13, 2008 at 5:51 PM

Amen Mr. Doggett.

Democrats love minorities like plantation owners loved slaves. As long as they behave, work and know their place they just love them to death. But when one gets “uppity,” then they had better watch out, they will be made an example of.

29Victor on March 13, 2008 at 11:29 PM