September 2, 2005
Race, Class, and Baloney in the Big EasyBy Rick Moran
It certainly didn't take long for the race baiters, class warriors, and economic determinists to heave themselves up from the flood waters that have inundated New Orleans to inform us all of the real tragedy being played out in that tortured city. Most of us think it bad enough that tens of thousands of human beings are suffering untold hardships and indignities as a result of being stranded in the nightmare of barbarism and perditious mayhem to which a once beautiful city has descended.
But for the professional victimhood groups, opportunity has come knocking. Why let an unimaginable tragedy like Katrina spoil a chance to link the tried and true canards of race and class with both the evocation of white guilt and a little Bush bashing for good measure?
This quotation from the Reverend Jesse Jackson manages the trifecta — race, class, and Bush bashing — quite nicely:
If he's not saying that himself, why say it in the first place except to plant the seeds of distrust and racism in the minds of his constituency?
Representative Charles Rangel tried to add a little humor to his critique. He also gets an 'A+' for combining race, class, and anti—war digs at the President in the space of one sentence:
Rangel and Jackson are by no means alone in piggybacking criticism of rich white people on their overheated critique of the Bush Administration. The tragedy in New Orleans is unlike any other disaster in American history, in that not only have we witnessed the almost complete and utter destruction of a major industrialized city but also political attacks on the party in power carried out with a ferocity perhaps unprecedented in its speed and bitterness following a major cataclysm.
This tactic is largely being given a free pass by the press and the American people because by invoking the race and class cards in a situation where the race and class of the people suffering the worst of the disaster is obvious, it becomes easier to posit the notion of an 'essential truth' being divined from the tragedy. In short, since poor black people are suffering, ergo they must be 'targeted' by white people because of their color and, given the economic determinists worldview, by the very fact that they are poor as well.
It does no good to point out that the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, is black himself. Not does it help to dispel this impression by saying that the city has a black Police Superintendent Edwin Compass III. And I imagine numerous questions will be put to both the Mayor and Police Superintendent at an appropriate time about their initial responses to the hurricane and its aftermath.
But the real questions are does it make any difference that those who are experiencing the worst of the devastation are poor and black and is their ordeal the result of the indifference and outright racisim of white people and, by extension, conservative white people in the Bush Administration?
To even ask the questions presupposes a monstrous evil at large in America. Do white people not care if black people live or die? Anyone who suggests that the overwhelming majority of white people — conservative or not — would have such a pernicious attitude toward human life is being disengenuous. They are not being serious. Similarly, to say that the overwhelming majority of Americans could give a fig that poor people are fighting for their lives as I write this is demonstrably false, based on the fact that more than $100 million has been raised in a little more than 72 hours for the relief of these same poor black people in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.
Then why this over the top rhetoric? Why the wild claims by African American leaders and the anti—poverty industry that the race and class of the victims of Katrina has a direct bearing on the level of suffering being experienced by those who, through no fault of their own, were forced to stay behind in the doomed city?
Race, and to a lesser extent class, has been called the elephant in the living room in American politics and for good reason; the only people who can speak about it and not get skewered in a political sense are the self—appointed black leaders who, for better or for worse, have become the inheritors of Martin Luther King's legacy. Over the years, the Jesse Jacksons and Charlie Rangels have developed an entirely new vocabulary replete with apocalyptic rhetoric and dark, conspiratorial imagery that feeds the frustration and anger that many blacks experience by living and working in America. What makes their critiques resonate with the black community is that there is usually just enough truth about the real and palpable racism that blacks see and experience in their everyday lives to make the more outrageous claims regarding white mischeif seem plausible.
The attacks by the anit—poverty crusaders take a similar tack when it comes to blaming 'society' for the meager circumstances of the poor. These economic determinsts have learned to temper their language since the 1960's so that they don't quite sound like the Marxists they really are:
It's also dangerous to make assumptions based on broad generalities. Of course the storm didn't deliberately target the poor. Therefore, the gentleman Marxist must be saying that relief efforts are inadequate, not because of the overwhelming nature of the catastrophe, but because of indifference by 'the ruling class.' Again, what a horrible wickedness that must be abroad in America if government actually bases relief decisions on someone's socio—economic status.
The bottom line of all of this nonsense is Bush bashing. For the past 72 hours, liberal websites have been filled with with the most vile, partisan attacks on the President to date, many of them making the same claims as Mssrs. Jackson and Rangel. The left has sensed an opening and his firing broadsides at the Administration before the bodies floating in the flood waters have been buried. At a time when it is vitally important that Americans pull together to face up to this unprecedented disaster, the left has chosen open partisan warfare.
Bringing race and class into the national conversation about the aftermath of the hurricane is a sham. It's real purpose is to open another avenue of attack on the President using the tried and true grounds of racism to advance a political agenda. All done at the expense of the very people the professional racialists claim to be speaking for.
Rick Moran is the proprietor of the blog Right Wing Nuthouse