Democrats, Joe Wilson, Maureen Dowd, and the “R” Word
posted at 3:23 pm on September 15, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
On Dennis Prager’s radio show today, he expressed utter befuddlement about the Democratic attack on Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC, 92%), who shouted “You lie!” at President Barack H. Obama during the ObamaCare speech to a joint session of Congress; Prager couldn’t understand why the Left would call Wilson racist, and claim his outburst was an act of racism. In particular, Prager was at a loss whether Maureen Dowd, who jumped in front of the parade with her column Saturday, actually believed what she wrote — that when Wilson yelled “You lie,” he really meant “You lie, boy!”
I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.
I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.
But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.
(“No Democrat ever shouted ‘liar’ at W.?” Ye flipping gods! What planet does Ms. Dowd hail from?)
Indeed, Prager is not alone: I would say 95% of the Republican Party either cannot fathom how Dowd, et al, could possibly think that opposition to the Obamacle stems entirely from racism, or else flatly believes that Democrats don’t believe it but are merely using it as a convenient and effective, if vile, rhetorical device. But conservatives are really being unfair to Democrats: They do, in fact, believe what they say; it’s not just a handy stick to bash conservatives… and it’s fully consonant with well-articulated liberal orthodoxy going back many decades, to the very cusp of the civil-rights movement itself in 1909.
I’m stunned that conservatives and Republicans fail to grasp, even today, what “affirmative action” actually implies. Haven’t we been paying attention?
Left-liberal “affirmative action” was first brought to federal public policy by President John F. Kennedy (which many Republicans, especially neoconservatives, still revere) and perpetuated by Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon (which everybody on both sides the aisle hates). It has always meant going the extra mile (or thousand miles) to establish, encourage, or solidify “diversity”… where diversity means “an increase in the number of non-whites, non-males, and non-heterosexuals in any field of endeavor.”
Kennedy seems to have first used the word in Executive Order 10925:
The President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity established by this order is directed immediately to scrutinize and study employment practices of the Government of the United States, and to consider and recommend additional affirmative steps which should be taken by executive departments and agencies to realize more fully the national policy of nondiscrimination within the exeoutive branch of the Government….
The contractor will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin. The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin….
The Committee may direct that any bidder or prospective contractor or subcontractor shall submit, as part of his Compliance Report, a statement in writing, signed by an authorized officer or agent of any labor union or other workers’ representative with which the bidder or prospective contractor deals, together with supporting information, to the effect that the said labor union’s or representative’s practices and policies do not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, creed, or national origin, and that the labor union or representative either will affirmatively cooperate, within the limits of his legal and contractual authority, in the implementation of the policy and provisions of this order or that it consents and agrees that recruitment, employment, and the terms and conditions of employment under the proposed contract shall be in accordance with the purposes and provisions of the order.
Kennedy thus distinguished “affirmative action” from passive non-discrimination: It’s not enough, he ordered, that public and private employers and contractors not discriminate against blacks; rather, they must go out of their way to remedy such de facto discrimination, even if unintentional.
As it turns out (and was clear to many from the outset), there is only one way to remedy “racial discrimination” that is neither intentional nor deliberate, but arises from actual differences and personal preferences of individual blacks and whites, men and women; and that is, in fact, to racially and sexually discriminate — but this time, in favor of anyone who is not a heterosexual white male.
Worse, pesons of all races, both genders, and all sexual preferences must be told they cannot do what they want but must instead do what is best for “diversity.” Individual blacks must attend Harvard, even if they would feel much more comfortable at UCLA; every individual woman must become a career politcian, lawyer, or aerospace engineer, even if what she really wants is to marry, keep house, and raise children. And individual gays and lesbians are pressured to marry, even if they reject the monogamous gay lifestyle as too much like heterosexuality.
Thus even from the outset, affirmative action lurched along in opposition to its false-flag, equalitarian rhetoric of treating people as individuals, not representatives of racial, ethinic, sexual, or sexual-preference groups, “without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Affirmative action has always demanded racial and sexual preferences.
The rhetorical devotion to Martin Luther King, jr.’s “dream” of a time when people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” — has always been in tension against the actual political combat fought to institute programs that intentionally discriminate on the basis of race… but for “the other side” in the putative race wars. Even King himself, for all his lofty, equalitarian rhetoric, advocated programs that today would unquestionably be called “affirmative action,” such as Operation Breadbasket (“King staffers gathered data on the hiring patterns of corporations doing business in black communities, and called on companies to rectify disparities”).
Even King’s words often advocated explicit racial preferences:
- “Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic.”
- “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”
- “Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs…. And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war.”
Politically, Ronald Reagan was right when he said that King was a “near-Communist.” It’s inarguable that dream or no dream, King was a collectivist, no matter what he said on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
Conservatives and Republicans claim to understand this, but I don’t think they’ve really internalized it… else they would have no difficulty grokking Maureen Dowd’s attack on Joe Wilson.
Brilliant feminist writer Christina Hoff Sommers (author of Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women; The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men; and other excellent reads) distinguishes between what she calls “equity feminism” — the belief that men and women should be given equal opportunity to achieve their goals as their individual talents and perseverence allow — and “gender feminism,” the belief that we should always support women over men. The former is the feminism she grew up believing; the latter is what the feminist movement has degenerated into, she argues. You will be unshocked to learn that Sommers is the bête noire of NOW, NARAL, and other movement organizations.
For clarity, let’s adapt those terms to affirmative action in general. We’ll speak of equity individualism on the one hand and diversity discrimination on the other… and now at last we can resolve Dennis Prager’s dilemma.
Prager kept demanding to know how yelling “You lie!” at the president was a comment on race when it doesn’t even mention race; he couldn’t understand why Dowd attributed opposition to Obamunism — including something as innocuous as trying to refuse stimulus money — to racism, but didn’t attribute opposition to George W. Bush (even by blacktivists) to racism. But Prager’s confusion comes directly from trying to apply the principles of equity individualism to Maureen Dowd’s column… when in fact it stems directly from her real principle, shared by nearly all liberals and Democrats, of diversity discrimination.
Once we understand that, then like a spider’s web, the pieces of the “Wilson attack” fit neatly into place: Liberals consider it an act of racism or sexism to treat America’s first black president just like any old, previous, white male president… just as they consider it racist to do nothing in the face of de facto racial segregation, even when self selected (e.g., fewer blacks than whites are interested in taking up golf; fewer women than men are interested in becoming physicists and engineers).
Democrats cry racism when Republicans don’t extend affirmative action to Barack Obama; when we don’t treat him as different and special — when we don’t give him extra deference not extended to George W. Bush (or even to Bill Clinton) — when we don’t cut Obama more slack. That is, when we don’t devote our political capital to helping Obama succeed in all his leftist policies, regardless of whether we as individuals support them (unimportant), that itself constitutes racism.
And this is not dishonest partisanship or an ad-hoc position they just now made up; this definition of racism traces directly from a long line of ideology that leads all the way back to the great philosophical war between Booker T. Washington, who championed nondiscrimination and individual black achievement, and W. E. B. Du Bois, who championed collectivist political action. Alas, Du Bois long ago won that argument within the black community, and the larger community of civil-rights advocates, when he co-founded the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — rather than the “National Association for the Equal Treatment of All Individuals.”
Only recently have significant voices risen within these groups, blacks, women, and civil-rights advocates, to directly challenge the groupthink ideology of diversity discrimination and call for equity individualism instead: Ward Connerly, Thomas Sowell, Justice Clarence Thomas, Larry Elder, Christina Hoff Sommers, Phyllis Schlafly, David Horowitz, the late Charleton Heston, and many others. The trail was blazed by the late and very great Sen. Barry Goldwater, who fought for the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it was nothing but a ban on racial discrimination in government employment and contracting… but then withdrew his support and courageously voted against it when it morphed into a collectivist affirmative-action plan that constrained private individuals’ control of their own private property, even for ugly and nefarious ends.
So put the attacks into perspective, please. Dowd, et al, are not claiming that Wilson is actively engaging in segregation, white supremacy, or racism by shouting at the president; they don’t think he would be perfectly happy with Obamunism if Obama were white.
Rather, they attack Wilson, et al, for engaging in passive discrimination by not treating Obama with greater deference than they would treat a white liberal president: They’re not accusing us of not treating a black president as equal to a white president… they’re accusing us of not treating him as “more equal” than a white president. The accusation makes perfect sense — given the premises of the accusers.
As usual, it all comes down to axioms. Therein lies the great gulf between individualism and collectivism.
Cross-posted to Big Lizards…
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