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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

 

Victor Davis Hanson on Trump's Popularity

Trump is a dangerously effective classic demagogue not because the working white poor are empty-vessel racists, but rather because he has split white America along class lines and has, among the Republicans, who are already the minority party, opened a self-destructive Pandora’s box of white resentments toward wealthy whites who use their education, family ties, networks, income, and money to leverage privilege while caricaturing or deprecating poor and middle-class whites. Poorer whites can live with the perceived injury of the well-connected and well-educated white elite capitalizing on the age of globalization, of huge and bankrupt government, and of politically correct multiculturalism, but not with the perceived insults that are central to the elite career and psyche. In an age of La Raza (“The Race”) and (only) Black Lives Matter, how exactly did the Republican establishment think the white working classes would eventually react to the new hyphenated America? With a week’s escape to Provincetown or commiseration at a B-list D.C. party? Tribalism for thee, but not for me?

"White privilege” is now a catchword for advantages supposedly enjoyed by roughly 70 percent of the population. Forget for a moment the inexactness of the term “white” in an increasingly interracial and intermarried society in which millions are of mixed ancestry and cannot be pegged by superficial appearance as fitting into any one racial category. Forget as well the careerism of the diversity industry, emblemized by the embarrassing but profitable ruses of an Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Dolezal, or Ward Churchill (none of whom faked a pedigree of a sympathetic poor Hungarian or Bosnian refugee). And forget the lies — such as “Hands up, don’t shoot” or George Zimmerman as the “white Hispanic” — necessary to paper over the contradictions of racial tribalism. Concentrate instead on the growing industry of caricaturing whites in popular culture.

There are two characteristics common to popular uses of the term “white”: It is almost always used pejoratively, and it is mostly voiced by elites of all backgrounds — and usually as a slur against the white working and “clinger” classes. So “the Latino vote” reflects shared aspirations; “the white vote” merely crude resentment. Those who benefit from affirmative action are not privileged, but those who do not certainly are. Whites cling in Neanderthal fashion to their legal rifles; inner-city youth hardly at all to their illegal handguns. Buying a jet-ski on credit is typical redneck stupidity; borrowing $200,000 to send a kid to a tony private university from which he will graduate more ignorant and arrogant than when he enrolled is wise. White “evangelicals” are puzzling for their crude hypocrisies; not so the refined paradoxes of Congregationalists and Episcopalians. Smoking is self-destruction, while injecting a strain of botulism toxin into your face is not self-mutilation.

Nothing is more surreal than to hear a multimillionaire African-American athlete (in a professional sports league that suffers from lack of diversity and is exempt from the government notion of disparate impact) or a Malibu-based movie star rail against white privilege — as if most of Appalachia or Oildale lived in the manner of one’s white neighbors in Santa Monica or the Hollywood Hills. About the time when billionaire Oprah Winfrey sought further victim status by inventing a racial slight at the hands of a Swiss boutique that refused to show her a $38,000 handbag, I thought of a white, gap-toothed, out-of-work painter with a bad back and bad habits in the southern San Joaquin Valley, who periodically wants me to hire him again to paint the barn. Oprah is the supposed victim of a rude European white person, and thus by extension we have to end the unfair racial privileges enjoyed by barn painters?

The latest campus lunacies — from Black Lives Matter to the Trotskyization of the names of dead white male benefactors — are predicated on quite privileged white kids attacking the idea of whiteness to win exemption for their own quite comfortable status. Stanford students would be far more believable as racial egalitarians if, instead of rallying against the reintroduction of Western Civilization in their curriculum, they had they used their energy to drive their Beamers over to East Palo Alto and volunteer to tutor in the all-but-segregated public schools. Better yet, their professors could curb the diversity enthusiasm in the Academic Senate and instead put their own children in a good San José public school. Integration and assimilation are proven remedies for minority disparity.

Most of the spineless university presidents and deans are affluent and privileged white men and women, committed to affirmative action and diversity, but always at the expense of someone other than their own class. Could not a college president at least write the following memo: “As proof of my commitment to diversity and campus egalitarianism, I promise to end all special consideration for the children of alumni and wealthy donors. I further pledge that I will accept no off-the-record phone calls from parents lobbying for their children’s admittance outside of accepted admission channels. In an increasingly diverse society, it simply will not do to circumvent transparent channels of evaluation. And as an added incentive to encourage fairness and to promote the public schools, our university will soon announce a one-year hiatus on prep-school applications.” Such a proclamation would do more to promote university equality than all the self-serving, pompous diversity memos of the ruling elite.

In sum, the white lower and middle classes are angry, and they are tired of being blamed for the unhappiness of other tribes. In our world, in which uncouth tribal leaders can say almost anything, these whites wanted their own Sharpton or Ramos, and finally got him with Donald J. Trump. As is true of most revolutionary movements, the aggrieved are not as angry at their perceived opponents as they are contemptuous at the enablers of them. Given his cruelty, obnoxiousness, and buffoonery, Trump should have been a three-month flash in the pan, exactly as most of his critics had prophesied and dreamed. I hope he will still fade, as he should. But the fact that he has persisted this long may be because the hatred our elites so passionately claimed was aimed at the Other was actually directed at themselves.

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Comments:
VDH is just doing the will of his neocon bosses. NRO and PJM don't have to worry about drops in readership due to offending their own readership. They have piles of neocon money to keep them in business.
 
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