For a large and growing segment of progressives, absolutely everything has been racialized, to the point where progressives are now pushing the case that Joe Biden, who loyally served by Obama’s side for eight years, is a latter-day Bull Connor who must “atone” for his past. There is more than a whiff of Cultural Revolution “struggle sessions” in the hypervigilance of the left, and its lust for apologies and public humiliations: Last month in the New York Times Magazine, the Jamaican-born poet Claudia Rankine published a paranoid meditation about “white male privilege,” recording a series of mundane encounters with various white men, each and every single one of whom she imbued with an all-enveloping sense of white supremacy. Those men who cut her in the first-class line at the airport? It could not be that they are rude, harried people. No, they were RACISTS. Every single white man Rankine meets, she presumes to be in possession of “white privilege”—an ineffable trait that she describes as having biological qualities. No matter what their station in life, they are mystically endowed with this trait and thus possess more “power” than Rankine—a National Book Award-winning Yale professor, poet, and $625,000 MacArthur “genius” grant recipient.
In many progressive circles, the word “white” has become a gleeful synonym for “ignorant,” “bigoted,” or “unenlightened.” In mainstream media and other progressive discourse, attacks on “straight white men” are as ubiquitous as they are indiscriminate. When Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims decided to harass a pro-life demonstrator standing peacefully outside a Philadelphia abortion clinic earlier this year, he described her as “an old white lady,” as if the color of her skin had anything whatsoever to do with the validity of her belief that life begins at conception. Recently minted New York Times editorial writer Sarah Jeong spent years tweeting vile insults about white people that would have ended her career had she written them about any other group or “race.”