Proper liberal credentials trump all the usual forms of identity politics.
By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
In the 21st century, doctrinaire liberalism is synonymous with hypocrisy.
Or maybe it is better seen as career insurance, providing exemption from all the many paradoxes of a leftist worldview.
The rich supporter of affirmative action still uses, without apology, the old-boy network to pull privileged strings to get his own son admitted to the proper college. Al Gore flies on a carbon-spewing private jet, saving the planet by getting to conferences more quickly and enjoyably. High-tax proponent John Kerry docks his yacht where he can avoid taxes; how else to ensure downtime for furthering social justice?
A spread-the-wealth Obama, who warns others about making too much money and profiting at all the wrong times, nonetheless chooses the tony haunts of the moneyed and privileged — the Hawaiian resort coast, Martha’s Vineyard, Rancho Mirage — in preference to the old Chicago hood or even Camp David.
It is hard to be a progressive in a sea of capitalist lucre, or an idealist when careerism pays so much better, or personally frugal when personal excess is contextualized and made guilt-free by an abstract selfless agenda.
So how does one balance the conflicting elements of the progressive worldview?
How can one sort out the policies of a radical environmentalist who wants to send life-giving California water out to sea — thereby hurting impoverished immigrant farm workers from Latin America?
Chicago liberal mayor Rahm Emanuel is a pal of Barack Obama, and just got back from vacationing in Cuba. But last year, when he was running for reelection, he apparently covered up a possibly improper police shooting of an inner-city black youth, in a careerist effort not to endanger his minority political support.
Whom to defer to — the veteran progressive political in-fighter or the angry Chicago minority community? Can people who vacation in Cuba really be racially insensitive? When the collective trumps the individual, and induction gives way to party-line deductive thinking, natural inconsistencies result.
Was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon killer, a troubled but charismatic immigrant Muslim who warranted a Rolling Stone cover photo that enhanced his curls in Che style? Or was he a vicious, depraved killer who maimed and butchered indiscriminately? Had Tsarnaev been a white South African terrorist with a name like Terre von Tonder, whose cause was not jihad but Christian fundamentalism, would he have made the Rolling Stone cover after killing three and wounding another 264 innocent people?
Thousands of first- and second-generation Middle Eastern immigrants, at least some of them recent arrivals, went on a rampage in many German cities over the New Year’s holidays, pawing, manhandling, and sexually assaulting hundreds of German women — a classic foretaste of the coming collisions between the Morlock premodern and the Eloi postmodern worlds.
But in the hierarchies of political correctness, whose cause prevails? The right of young urban females not to have to worry about predatory sexist males, or the deference and allowance given the proverbial non-Western “other,” who supposedly has grievances against so-called colonialist, imperialist, and racist Europe? Which would mattress girl side with? If the sexual predators had been skinheads and their victims young migrant girls from Syria, would the assaulters be jailed by now? Or if the Muslim immigrants had aimed firework rockets at the historic Cologne cathedral, would the German public have noticed?
How does one adjudicate when various –isms and –ologies conflict with one another — radical feminism versus sexual emancipation, environmentalism versus the customs of indigenous peoples, free speech versus correct speech, integration and free expression versus safe spaces and trigger warnings? Does not even PC marijuana tar the lungs, give off second-hand smoke, and, in double-martini fashion, impair driving?
Yet in truth, liberal correctness trumps all lesser progressive agendas. The master ring of leftwing politics rules the lesser rings of race, class, gender, immigration, and environment. Ideology alone makes Barack Obama, prep-schooled in Honolulu, a more authentic representative of the Jim Crow South than Clarence Thomas, or Bill Richardson more Latino than Marco Rubio.
Had Bill Cosby written a National Book Award–winning, incoherent anti-white diatribe like Ta-Nehisi Coates instead of sermonizing to inner-city youth about their jeans slinking below their posteriors or using made-up names for their children, his serial womanizing, adultery, and often violent sexual assault would likely still have been covered up, or at least ignored, by the media — or contextualized like Bill Clinton’s earlier crimes. Cosby’s brief embrace of traditionalism erased even his once-advantageous minority status and suddenly made him fair game, whereas the similarly old charges of Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones — or those serial freebie jet jaunts to the fantasy underage-sex island of convicted child molester Jeffrey Epstein — just bounced off Clinton’s liberal cuirass. Both Cosby and Clinton were callous womanizers and assaulters, but one gave up his insurance policy.
Al Gore, who was likewise once described as a “crazed sex poodle” and accused of sexual assault, seems to have gone out of his way to commit every sin in the politically correct book when 1) he unloaded for tens of millions of dollars a completely failed and worthless Current TV station, in Donald Trump art-of-the-deal fashion; 2) he sold it to Al Jazeera, whose coverage is often anti-American, anti-Semitic, and pro-authoritarian and which wanted a propaganda entrée into the American market; 3) his jacked-up profits came from the illiberal royal house of Qatar, whose cash comes mostly from mammoth sales of carbon-spewing, climate-changing fossil fuels; 4) he rushed the sale to beat a capital-gains tax hike of the sort he had always supported as part of his soak-the-rich big-government advocacy.
But had Gore been Dan Quayle or Mitt Romney, then the deal would have been seen as dishonest, hypocritical, crony capitalist, anti-American, anti-Semitic, profit-driven, and anti-progressive. Would George Soros be seen as an international financial bandit, erstwhile threat to the Bank of England, convicted criminal in France, and crass speculator who profited on the backs of the working classes if his politics were more like those of the Koch than the Steyer brothers?
A University of Missouri feminist leftwing professor recently tried to shove away an Asian student journalist, before calling for “some muscle.” Do campus thuggery, violations of liberal free-speech codes, and poor role-modeling and mentorship get any worse? But imagine that instead of Melissa Click, the incident had involved a potbellied 60-something right-wing white professor who tried to physically obstruct a young Latina student from exercising her free-speech rights, before shouting to some frat-boy jocks, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here. ” Would he have still been on the faculty the next day?
Profiting in uncouth fashion from public service, using stealth to avoid transparency, flouting the law, and prevaricating on the public record should be liberal sins. But Hillary Clinton seemed to expect exemption from the law, whereas lesser government employees who similarly violated e-mail security laws would have been jailed. Had Sarah Palin done the same thing as Hillary Clinton, wouldn’t she likely have ended up, in Dinesh D’Souza fashion, in jail rather than free as a bird like Lois Lerner?
In truth, party-line, elite liberalism is mostly about careerism and embracing a loud ideology that trumps every other progressive and identity-politics agenda. Politically correct leftism is a career investment — a sort of insurance that indemnifies one against every sin, from carbon-spewing travel and politically incorrect gaffes to Wall Street profiteering and1950s-style sexual loutishness. To borrow from Tolkien, the assertion of leftism is the “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.”