Racial Resentment

Publius offers up his take on the white, Southern, voter:

But the bigger problem here is that the Race Card Chorus plays on white resentment — which remains a poisonous brew. I’m a child of the rural South. But you know what? Actual racism is a lot less common there — we have a ways to go, but there has been real progress on that front.

The more serious problem is white resentment. A lot of white people honestly think they have been significantly deprived of various things because of minorities. And it’s hard to overstate how deeply these feelings run. It’s not so much animosity toward people who are different — it’s the animosity of the aggrieved. They feel like they are the victims.

That’s why race is a losing issue for Obama — it’s not so much that people are racist, but that they feel they are being punished because they’re white (yes, I know how completely absurd this must sound to the black community).

I don’t really know what to make of this. He’s right, practically speaking, of course about the political effects of race politics and racial discussions, but still, I don’t understand why we can’t just call this what it is; scapegoating. And, Godwin’s law notwithstanding, it’s exactly the strategy the Nazis used to come to power on the back of Jew-baiting in Germany. It wasn’t anti-Semitism that drove the Nazis to power, although that was obviously key, because that implies that most German people had a deep seeded, latent hatred of Jews in particular. Rather, it was scapegoating. Germany had just lost the biggest war in the history of the world, had their empire taken away from them, and were reeling from the effects of the Great Depression. And here came the Nazis telling everyone that it wasn’t their fault, that the Jews had caused all of it. And it was really nice to have someone to blame, and the German people bought it.

Likewise, if you worked at a factory for 20 years and they just up and moved to Thailand, that really, really sucks. And I’d very much like for their to be an intricate network of social services in place to make sure that you can stay on your feet, that your family eats and has a place to live in, and so on. But it’s no one else’s fault. If you have to blame someone, then the only person who can resonably be held responsible is…you, for never taking the time or the initiative to learn a marketable skill that couldn’t be outsourced and that was needed in a changing economy. That’s not always easy to do, I understand that, and I’m not saing everyone should do it, but it doesn’t give you the right to convince yourself that everyone else is at fault for your problems if you don’t go out on a limb to improve yourself over the course of decades.

Similarly, can we put an end to this affirmative action stereotyping? I’m extremely sick of hearing these contrived hypotheticals wondering why race should be a factor “all else being equal.” Let me tell you why race should be a factor, putting aside the fact that the situation is extremely unlikely in the real world. Blacks are much more likely to live in poverty, which means their schools have the fewest resources in areas that base funding heavily on the local population. They have the lowest levels of college graduation. They have high rates of single parenthood. In short, they have large structural disadvantages across the board compared to white voters. I’ll relate it to scouting baseball players; if I’m looking at 2 prospects for 1 pick, and they have identical production numbers and nearly identical workouts, and the only difference is that Player A has a really flawed technique to his swing while Player B is textbook, then I’m taking Player A without hesitation. Because I can teach technique, and then I can reasonably expect his production to increase, whereas a player with perfect technique may be maxed out on his potential. Likewise, if your upper middle class white daughter from a 2 parent household has the same grades, test scores, extra-curriculars, and what have you as a black girl from West Baltimore whose single parent is in the bottom quintile of earners…then there’s no way in hell your child deserves anything over that black child, because with structural advantages at every turn, she’s only as productive. Level the playing field, and we’d reasonably expect the poor, black, child to “produce” better.

So cutting through the rant, let me just say that I’m really sick of excusing inexcusable behavior. “Racial resentment” is not ok, even if it isn’t the same thing as racism. It’s baseless, it’s scapegoating, and it’s destructive in it’s ramifications. And the people who harbor it shouldn’t be excused or patronized, they should be mocked, ridiculed, and shamed into civilization the same way decent people responded to Bull Connor.