There’s a difference between excusing something and identifying the reasons it exists. When you talk about crime or terrorism, liberals will be the first to agree. Sometimes I think they drift awfully close to excusing things, but they’re not wrong to say we should understand the causes. Of course we should.
So when we look at the heinous gathering of white supremacists that took place in Charlottesville on Saturday, condemning it is the easy part. Anyone can do that. It takes no moral courage at all to condemn racists, Nazis or anyone else who fits this category.
The harder part is being honest about the political and societal dynamics that have given rise to such sentiments. Hornets are nasty, but if you poke their nest with a stick, you’re the idiot. Stinging you is in their nature.
So let’s make an observation most normal people (i.e., not political activists or journalists) will quickly recognize as true: The political class and the media are obsessed with race in a way that normal people are not. In normal, everyday life, white people and black people interact with each other all the time with no problems whatsoever. No one hates anyone. No one discriminates. No one is thinking, “I’m better than you because of race.”
I don’t care where you go. The grocery store. The coffee shop. The gym. School. Church. Your office. Your neighborhood. A restaurant. People shake hands. Say hello. Wish each other well. There are fringe exceptions to everything, of course, but in the mainstream this is how it is. People see people, not the race of people.
Then there are the very strange places populated by very strange people. The college campus. The newsroom. The capitol. This is where self-important narcissists spend their days, waxing philosophic about the great matters of our time, and basking in their own high significance as they work on behalf of everyone to save us all from ourselves.
To these people, everything is about race. And they’re sure that the hearts of just about everyone are tinged with racism, so it is up to them to make and enforce rules that prevent us from inflicting the racist evil in our hearts on the victims we are surely targeting.
And this gives rise to the stench of identity politics. The political class vows to “fight” for women and minorities. Fight against whom? Evil people! Haters! The white racists who are not just on the fringes, they insist, but in the mainstream of society every day.
And so we give rise to a culture in which race is central to every high-brow discussion, and is the key to every public policy. Corporations bring in “diversity trainers” to explain to us that we all have racism in our hearts and we just don’t realize it. They retrain our minds to understand that things we used to do that had no evil intent whatsoever were actually racist “microaggressions,” and we must all repent of these sins.
You thought you were doing enough simply by judging people by the content of their character? No! You’re not! Now you have to make penance for your “privilege.” You might have to accept that you get passed up for a job, or for admission to college, because there’s a history of injustice that has to be righted, and if that costs you a little, too bad. You’re white. Screw you.
People who have a problem with this get shouted down on college campuses, or are disinvited because terrified administrators fear riots by students totally brainwashed into the Social Justice Warrior mindset. The KKK are rightly condemned for their demonstrations in Charlottesville. But UC Berkeley students who set a Starbucks on fire because a conservative speaker was coming to campus hardly merit a mention.
We are told that minorities need “safe spaces.” Safe from whom? Why, racist white people! And not just on the fringes, people!
Now, if you’re a mature, responsible adult, your response to all this should be to make reasoned arguments against it. If you missed out on an opportunity you deserved on the merits, you recognize that stuff happens in life and you move on to something else.
But that’s not everyone. There are an awful lot of young, white males who can’t identify anything about their lives that seems like privilege. Many grew up with little money, in modest housing. Many had only one parent, if that. Many had no access to higher education. Many have criminal records. They’re not building careers. They’re just piecing it together, day to day, trying to come out at the end of the week with a few bucks left.
Everything in the culture says white males are the most privileged people around. Tells you that if you’re white you’re uncool. Accepts the widespread mockery of people on social media for being white. Tells you that you have no reason to complain about anything. But your life is garbage, even as you’re told that you are part of the only group in the world with no right to complain.
Now, does that justify becoming a neo-Nazi? Or raging against people of other races? Of course not. Nothing does. But we’re not talking about what’s justified. We’re talking about what people do.
The left has decided to make everything about race, and has established a pecking order for which races deserve favor and which deserve punishment. If you’re in the latter group, and you follow the left’s lead, then fine: Everything is about race, and yours gets nothing.
What do you do? You’re not very mature. You’re not very educated. You’ve got an angry spirit in you. And you’re getting really pissed off hearing all the time how privileged you are when you’re living in a trailer and barely paying the lot rental, and you’re between low-paying jobs for the third time this year. Screw everyone. The Daily Stormer is starting to sound pretty good.
The civil rights movement rightly and heroically waged war against a system that favored one race over others. That needed to end. But the successors to Dr. King and his contemporaries were not content with that. They insisted on a new system that would ameliorate past wrongs by tilting the scales the other way. How long would this have to go on? Until there was true equality, they insisted. And when would that be? Not yet, they insisted.
When will it really be? Never. Because groups that gain political power use that power to give advantages to themselves. It will never be enough, because it was never about being enough. It was about: You did it to us when you could. Now we’re doing it to you because we can.
It. Never. Stops.
And as long as identity politics drive policy and culture in this country, you’re going to have people who are not among the favored groups pushing back. And how can you be surprised when they do so in a race-conscious manner, when everything you’ve done says that race-consciousness should drive justice?
One of the dumbest things people now say is that Donald Trump is providing the impetus for the rise of the alt-right. No. He’s not. The alt-left is doing that, by trying to control who can speak, who can go to school, who can be employed and who can assemble - all according to race, gender, sexual identity and class as preferred by the left.
The agenda of the alt-left is as evil as the agenda of the alt-right. It’s about controlling people, and about favoring people who are like you over people who are not, because you have the power and you can. The only difference is that we all recognize how evil the alt-right is, while we’re afraid to acknowledge the exact same truth about the alt-left. So one side can perpetrate its evil with relatively little push-back or public scrutiny, while the other side is treated as cretins. And they are cretins. But no one should be surprised to learn how they got that way.
Identity politics started decades ago, and Trump is right when he says that it predates both him and Barack Obama. No one political party invented it, but the Democratic Party uses it shamelessly to win votes while the news media cheers them on.
The alt-right is the inevitable pushback against the alt-left, which is now culturally ascendant even as the body politic largely rejects it. It has established a narrative that anyone who opposes its agenda is racist by definition. Keep that up, and what do you think you’re going to get?
You poked the hornet’s nest with that stick. You deserved to get stung.
But the rest of us, who are dealing with each other just fine in normal life, don’t deserve to have to deal with the fallout of it. Yet here we are.