July 18, 2009

That’s Racist!

I?ve cancelled cable. But I seriously considered plugging back into the Matrix after watching these captivating 15 minutes of MSNBC Freddy Gray linked to

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

In the first two minutes, we get to see Obama put his black voice on for the NAACP! And he was much better at it than Hillary, who couldn?t sustain the accent for more than a sentence and whose ?clearin? out the deadwood? line is cringe-inducing. But when BHO called on his brothers and sisters to ?lift up our community,? I could just feel the authenticity! And then when he started rhyming at the end ? well, Can I get a witness from the congregation up in here?!

Then, at 4:30, Rachel and Pat Buchanan get into a throw-down debate about affirmative action and our ?affirmative action baby? soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice. Maddow?s main argument seems to be that institutional racism was to blame for the prevalence of white guys, and appalling dearth of Jewish Eskimos, on the Court for hundreds of years up until Sonia?s ?historic? nomination.

I was also directed to this post by Ezra Klein, an ?Establishment Smear Princess? if there ever was one, who goes after Pat for being a Neanderthal:

This is man [sic] who got his start helping Nixon divide and demoralize this country. Who helped destroy the Republican Party in 1992 by running one of the most noxious presidential campaigns in recent memory.

Whoa! It looks like someone just read Nixonland and is gonna go all historical on us!


The only problem is that Tricky Dick invented affirmative action (over the protests of Pat, I?m sure), as Kevin Yuill explains in his excellent book on the subject. Indeed, it was race-preferences in hiring, much more than Nixon?s combative campaigning style, that was designed to ?divide and demoralize this country.?

James Heartfield explains this well in an article for Spiked

Far from being an alternative to racism, affirmative action institutionalises racial discrimination, a kind of divide-and-rule policy that lets federal agencies control the racial mix in the workplace.

As Yuill explains, progressive and radical thought about race baulked at positive discrimination in the boom years after the Second World War. It was the eminent Swedish sociologist Karl Gunnar Myrdal who popularised the idea that the American Creed implied everyone deserved a chance to better themselves in his monumental study, An American Dilemma. Even the Black Panthers took the view that the solution to job discrimination was full employment.

Only at the point that the forward momentum of the American economy stalled did the idea of positive discrimination come to the fore. Yuill shows that the ideas of redistributing the rewards (and by implication, redistributing the misery) were part and parcel of a generalised sense of despair at economic progress, as exemplified in the growth of apocalyptic green screeds like the Club of Rome?s The Limits to Growth (1972), and before that Rachel Carson?s Silent Spring (1962). The belief that resources were running out suggested that a smaller cake had to be shared out more evenly.

The idea was even floated to divide up the pie between ethnicities, establishing set-asides for Irish, Poles, Italians et al.

Someone once told me that Nixon?s real reason for instituting race preferences was to piss off blue collar workers and union types so much that they?d break away from their coalition with blacks in the Democrat Party and join the Republicans. Such plans within plans strike me as a bit too Nixonian even for Nixon.

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