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Archive for the ‘Affirmative Action’ Category

Every presidency has a defining moment, often a negative one. Bush’s might have been the contrast of the Bullhorn Speech at Ground Zero with the “Mission Accomplished” photo-op on the Aircraft Carrier.

The Nobel’s will be Obama’s. And the definition is not a good one. It will show everyone that he’s a joke, he’s gotten really far in life just showing up, he is beholden to foreigners, he lacks martial spirit, and he is judged by different and more lenient standards than everyone else. Obama could have scored a victory and exorcised his reputation as being arrogant and entitled by rejecting this award. Instead, he accepted it.

It sounds like it did take him by surprise, and it was a reasonably classy speech under the circumstances. But now the deed is done, and whenever he has to do anything to help America or fight its enemies, the “spirit of the Nobel Prize” will be brought up to handicap him. The gap between his “Hope and Promise” and accomplishments will stand in even greater contrast now than before.

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It may be thought that in these hard economic times, the economy will dominate the next election. This is probably true.  But it is a mistake to view social and economic issues as distinct categories.  In particular, issues like affirmative action, crime, and immigration may become more important to voters during economic hard times.

Welfare, affirmative action, crime, and social issues were important factors in the success of Reagan Republicanism twenty years ago. Affirmative action gains special salience during hard economic times and was used to great effect int he ’82 and ’90 recessions.  While affirmative action hiring policies may be annoying, limits on promotions and selective firings informed by racial preferences will sting more and divide the white working class even further from the Democratic coalition than these voters’ economic hard times alone would suggest.

The consensus among Republicans and Democrats alike has been not to make too much of a fuss about immigration and affirmative action.   Under Bush, conservatism was supposed to be “compassionate,” which meant policies indifferent to the native born population and hostile to the older American principles of thrift and limited government.  Everyone was so busy making money and flipping houses, it seemed petty to make too big of a deal about government services for illegal aliens or the quotas that prevailed in public sector and corporate hiring.  But as unemployment approaches 10%, the real swing voters–the white working classes–are realizing that these policies involve picking winners and losers in zero sum hiring and firing games.  At the same time, cigarette taxes and symbolic displays, such as Obama’s siding against law enforcement in favor of an obstreporous black colleague, remind these voters that Obama and the Democrats have less and less use for them and don’t identify with their values and interests.

These hard times create many opportunities for conservative politics.  For starters, spendthrift that Bush was, he had respect for private property and was substantially less inclined to expand the government’s reach into private life than Obama.  This difference would have been hard to fathom just a few years ago, but the Obama stimulus, health care, and moronic programs like “cash for clunkers” stand in sharp relief to Bush’s general tone.  Second, the argument that there are “jobs Americans won’t do” and that “diverse workplaces are important” will fall on deaf ears of whites who are out of work or deeply upside down many months into Obama’s administration.  Indeed, these cliches will be treated as insults and reinforce the suspicion that Obama does not mean to represent all Americans equally.

Republicans have long been afraid to make these arguments.  No one likes to be called racist and get disinvited from cocktail parties.  But voters are making these arguments for them:  on blogs, in private conversations, on the comment boards of newspapers, in anonymous posters, and on the insides of bathroom stalls.  The Republicans can either tie this rumbling into a coherent politics of fairness, preserving national identity, and sound economic policy, or they can be called racist all the same, while doing nothing to stand up towards the racist and socialist policies of the Democratic Party.

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I’m amazed that Republicans are so frequently accused of race baiting. They’ve put a black man in charge of their party, given speeches in Spanish, disavowed most of our history, and even made some noises in favor of diversity and mass immigration, particularly under Bush. Even so, everyone from Al Hunt, Maureen Dowd, and Frank Rich are ragging on the Republicans in explicitly racial terms.

Look at these old, out-of-touch, white guys. What do they know about Latinas and women and life? They’re on the wrong end of history and don’t even know it. How dare they try to preserve their existence and power? How dare they think like a tribe, even as every other group thinks tribally? How dare they even think like self respecting individuals! And, of course, in the liberal competition for who hates his privileges and insider status and people the most, white journalists try to outdo one another in their self-loathing (though this is more accurately described as exquisite hatred of their hick cousins and high school gym coaches and the frat boys that didn’t like them in college and now have made so much money in business).

Consider Al Hunt today:

What endures, however, is the spectacle of middle-aged, white Republicans instructing the first Latin female nominee about the irrelevance of race, gender and life experiences for a judge. Even Graham, one of the more enlightened lawmakers, a strong immigration advocate and a thoroughly modern Republican, didn’t get it.

This country is still 78% white or so. The shame of it!!! It is only not more so because of deliberate reengineering of our demographics that favor immigrants from the Third World–whether educated and productive or illiterate and diseased–versus our more easily assimilated cousins in Europe. But this white majority is just a shameful legacy to the unappeasable left. It’s not just slavery that’s shameful to the left; it’s that our country has an historical people that is still in the majority and that still produces wealthy, ambitious, and productive people that become senators, run companies, and continue to reproduce. You thought Obama might chill them out? No such luck. People like these Senators and Bill Gates and all the successful folks who have better test scores and safe neighborhoods and successful lives and successful children remind affirmative action babies like Sotomayor and Michelle Obama that they’re not so sharp or talented or capable, and that even if they are, most of their relatives and cousins and neighbors growing up are not. (Barack on the other hand is quite talented and sui generis.)

Pretty soon I expect to see editorials with titles like Can’t All the White People Just Die? Indeed, someone at the LA Times nearly said that the other day in discussing elderly voters.

I’m reminded of the disillusioned response of the author Bertolt Brecht to East Germany’s brutal suppression of worker strikes in 1953.

The Solution

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Republicans are often accused of perpetuating Nixon’s Southern Strategy and being race-obsessed, but if they were Bush and then McCain would not have been their candidate. The most dominant and common tribal, race-obsessed, and vengeful racism in America today is found among black and Hispanic activists who make no bones about their anti-white agenda. Would-be lackeys like Rich and Hunt and the like think they’ll somehow be spared the raw end of the deal if they simply shout most loudly at their coethnics. The question is whether the very individualistic and non-tribal majority will start to put two and two together as to their destiny as tomorrow’ hated minority. We can’t all get the sonderkommando gig that Al Hunt is apparently gunning for.

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As Steve Sailer says, Sotomayor spent a good part of her adult life giving boring speeches at various “diversity” events where she extolled the values of diversity, the “Latina soul,” and the need for aggressive affirmative action in institutions of power. Then, when in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she basically repudiated it all, along with her vaguely nihilistic ideas about the influence of race and results on judicial reasoning. In order to get through this process, she pretended to be a moderate, middle-American story of success and a paragon of moderation. This, indeed, is exactly what Obama did during his campaign, where no one really asked him about his first book, Dreams of My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, nor did he get questioned about his record as a South Side Chicago politician. The only slight problem were the rantings of his long-time pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, which Obama deflected by giving long and complicated speeches about why Wright was like a loveable, crazy-old-Uncle, until eventually abandoning him when Wright went out of his way to show the world what it’s all about at Trinity Church.

There is an odd tendency of our public life where a great number of the media and other observers are all wanting to be fooled and are overly credulous when leftists deny what they have said and done for their entire public life until the point where national power may be in reach. Those who dare to think critically and note contradictions are castigated for negativity, bad faith, and generally for spoiling the party.

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I have to give the Republicans in the Senate some props for challenging Sotomayor in a very forthright way in the hearings and stating what I think is a Republican position that has cross-party appeal: the values of judicial neutrality, opposition to the fashionable ethnic chauvinism among minorities, and an appeal to high standards and the importance of a judicial officer’s oath.

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Whether it makes for good politics or not to emphasize Sotomayor’s intellectual mediocrity and ethnic chauvinism, I don’t know. But I do find it striking how her entire world view and intellectual interests consists of narcissistic championing of diversity and the “magical Latinal soul,” as detailed by Lawrence Auster in a recent blog entry. I mean, a little ethnic pride is one thing, but the self-obsession with the distinctness of the Latin American experience and the need to justify the unfair advantages she’s been given by affirmative action suggest an oversized, but very fragile ego. This is a human type not so different from the prickly Michelle Obama. (Barack, by contrast, seems much more confident in his intellectual horsepower.)

How sad never to to look outside of oneself and the “Latina experience” and engage the robust heritage of Western Civilization. Can you ever imagine someone like Michelle Obama or Sotomayor reading something about Ancient Greece or modern India or the French Revolution or anything else for that matter? I am not Greek or German or Russian but I have alternately been fascinated by Plato, Kant, and Catherine the Great and, for that matter, the history of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan, Vietnam, South Africa, and Chile. Sotomayor’s absorption with her own tribe reminds me of how nearly all the Asian students in college took East Asian CIV and all the Hispanics Latin American CIV. It seemed only the whites dared to learn about sanskrit, hittites, eskimos, ancient Greece, and the like. And, of course, highly educated whites such as those on the federal bench are the only ones who can be publicly and repeatedly insulted, which is why Obama went to his crazy church for so long and why Sotomayor’s speech would be completely unobjectionable in her social circles. The combination of self-obsession and arrogance is typical and costless for affirmative action babies like them.

Auster writes:

Sonia Sotomayor’s 2001 lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law reveals a deeply mediocre mind. Reading it is a profoundly depressing experience. Nothing matters to this woman except the wonderfulness of her “Latina” identity and the need to get more people of color and more women on the nation’s federal courts. There is no other aspect of the law, no other aspect of America, no other aspect of the universe that she appears to care about. She evinces not the slightest sign of thoughtfulness, expresses not a single idea that rises above dreary mediocrity or goes beyond the rote repetition of the multicultural party line. Think of the old Communists, how they had no frame of reference outside the toppling of capitalism and no thought in their heads other than Communist slogans. Sotomayor has the same kind of mentality, except that her leftism, instead of being directed at the construction of a Communist state, is directed at the construction and celebration of racial and sexual diversity, and the slogans in her head are all about the richness and “vibrancy” of her “Latina” identity: “My family showed me by their example how wonderful and vibrant life is and how wonderful and magical it is to have a Latina soul.”
It is disgusting to read a 4,000 word talk by a person occupying the high position of U.S. federal appeals court judge who speaks endlessly about herself not as a judge, not as an American, but as a “Latina” woman, boasting about her ethnicity. She appears to be devoid of any sense of American citizenship.

What this woman represents is both the death of the intellect, and the death of the common principles, loves, and loyalties that made America.

I have to commend Auster for reading this entire speech; it’s awful in tone, similar to the orientation week lectures you get from highly indoctrinated resident assistants in college.

That said, it’s notable that while she is a number counter–i.e., she details through how many female and Hispanic judges there are on different federal circuits–her interests and the interests of Hispanic chauvinists in general are not nearly so militant or as distasteful as those of anti-assimilationist Muslims in Europe or extremist black activists at home like Al Sharpton. Her memories are not of major injustices, but of good times spent with family and a distinct cuisine. This has been my personal experience with Hispanics, who are generally friendly and warm people that are not terribly militant or alienated, even if they are left-leaning and want their group to get its “fair share.” As she herself says, “Many of us struggle with this tension and attempt to maintain and promote our cultural and ethnic identities in a society that is often ambivalent about how to deal with its differences. In this time of great debate we must remember that it is not political struggles that create a Latino or Latina identity. I became a Latina by the way I love and the way I live my life.” Well, it could be worse.

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Like the old legal privileges, tax immunities, and public honors accorded to aristocrats, from an early age, black Americans of any ability are taught in today’s America that they are special, immune from public criticism, and entitled to accomplish less at work and in school to succeed.  We’re told publicly (and quite unbelievably) “they need to work ‘twice as hard,'” but this is clearly false, as evidenced not least by the lower test scores and lower grades needed for blacks to get into elite institutions, and later in life by the intense mentoring, lower expectations, and tolerance for bad behavior in the work place.

Michelle Obama is a product of this system, getting into Princeton and Harvard Law School throug a combination of her successful brother’s athletic prowess and her race.  But she was no longer the class success (salutitorian) as she was at her much less challenging South Side high school; she was uncomfortable at Princeton, studied a “gut” major (sociology), and almost certainly could not pass the bar exam the first time around (as evidenced by her late admission to the Illinois Bar a year after graduating).  She later left “Big Law” after refusing assignments she thought she was too good for. She ultimately got a cushy job (six figures) matchmaking “community activists” with the University of Chicago Hospitals, making more than $300K annually when her husband was elected Senator. She’s still very ungrateful.

University of Chicago has always been a brainy place, where students actually care about learning, are intellectually curious, and do not suffer fools.  There’s nothing in her personality or life or words or anything else about her to suggest she’d have done well there.  During my time there, there were always a good number of “high average” local students–black and white–who did not really fit in and either dropped out or muddled through, not quite sure why so many of their peers were at the library at 11 pm on a Friday. The school has  also has been in many ways a compassionate place, where every year hundreds of students volunteer in soup kitchens, tutoring local students, and generally reach out to the largely impoverished and black local community.  But the school did not send an invitation to Michelle wrapped with a pink bow, so she’s pissed off to this day. At a commencement speech delivered this week at UC Merced, she remarked:

The context: Many of the UC Merced graduates were the first in their families to earn college degrees, and Mrs. Obama said, “By using what you have learned here, you can shorten the path perhaps for kids who may not see a path at all.

“I was once one of those kids. Most of you were once one of those kids,” and then told the students how she grew up just a few miles from the University of Chicago.

“Yet that university never played a meaningful role in my academic development. The institution made no effort to reach out to me — a bright and promising student in their midst — and I had no reason to believe there was a place for me there.

“Therefore, when it came time for me to apply to college, I never … considered the university in my own backyard as a viable option.”

She really knows how to hold a grudge!  It’s sad that her “inspirational” vignettes always come down to “don’t let the man hold you down.”  The minor indignities of life always appear in her speeches:  her weak test scores, her feelings of alienation at Princeton, and now her beef with her very generous employer of many years.  This is, nonetheless, understandable.  She has an inflated and demanding sense of entitlement, coupled with the vague sense of inferiority–these, the contradictory traits that always accompany unearned privileges.  Why else the $400 sneakers and heavy debt load in the 90s and now the somewhat hard-to-accept makover of herself as the First Mom?  She’s a combination of the Real Housewives of NY and Omarosa, a pretty disagreeable (but all too familiar) character that would be causing her husband a lot more problems but for a very compliant and well trained media.

One of the Obamas’ achilles heels might be the habits formed from years of navigating the relatively calm water of liberal, guilt-ridden whites in academic settings.  The Obamas are used to being accomodated and coddled, but as soon as they are challenged the barely suppressed anger comes out, particularly in the case of the more choleric and resentment-driven Michelle.

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