Us and Them: The Liberal Concept of Belonging

Most Leftists enjoy thinking of themselves as colorblind philanthropists, hell-bent on erasing bigotry from the public mind, bringing every racial category into economic harmony, and uniting every culture in a sort of tolerant, egalitarian utopia.  But is this self-assessment true?

In order to be truly multicultural, one has to have a tolerant approach to all other cultures, since -- coming from a postmodern, atheistic perspective -- there can be no right or wrong culture, and we all have to live peacefully with one another. But while most Leftists are increasingly tolerant of foreign cultures, their tendency toward domestic bigotry yields the assumption that multiculturalism is not truly multicultural, but is laden with racially based tendencies.

For instance, the concept of tolerance first necessitates an "us" and a "them." Without this concept of "us and them," there exists no standard of behavior for tolerance and generosity, since we would be incapable of defining who requires a more understanding and benevolent approach. After all, when you are aware that someone has a different culture from yours, you should theoretically approach him as though there will be some misunderstandings and as though you have an increased need to be patient and accepting.

However, when the Left interacts with other nativist cultures, meaning with white American conservatives, you can expect many prohibited, inter-cultural, discriminatory behaviors to become socially acceptable, simply because the American Left doesn't recognize white American conservatives to be "them." If Leftists did, then surely they would have a more respectful approach regarding our expectations for gender roles, sexual interaction, theology, government's purpose, and abortion (or at least a respect similar to their protection of French Muslims' right to wear the burkha). But neither this protection nor this respect are anywhere to be found.

The question is, why?

Simply put, when someone views a person or people as being one of "us," he tends to hold that person or people to his same standards, applying morality and the ensuing punishments to that person as though that person shared the same values, thus denying the "us" person an excuse for deviations from the moral norm. Also, when a group view another group as "us," they tend to feel as though the second group represent them in some way, and so they seek to protect their own self-image by regulating the behavior of those whom they consider in their group. (This kind of thinking explains why Leftists enjoy repeatedly apologizing for and trying to undo the historical actions of other people whose only personal resemblance to Leftists is skin color.)  The problem involved with domestic liberalism is that white American conservatives do not share the same values, the same culture, or the same purpose with Leftists, leading us to wonder whether this assumption of "us" is valid at all, and why it even exists.

The answer, of course, is that this categorization of "we" can be due only to the combination of racial category and nationality, as there exists no other category by which to liken our two groups. National identity cannot be the sole reason, since many foreign cultures take part in American citizenship and enjoy more benefits of tolerance than white conservative Christians. And culture cannot be the uniting factor, since the Left and Right cultures are nearly diametrically opposed on every major issue.

But most white conservative Americans are consistently derided for not accepting the values of the secular Left, as though we are not worthy of autonomy from their cultural impositions. It is as though blacks, Hispanics, and Arabs all deserve their special cultural acceptance, because they are "them," but whites must be held perfectly to Leftism, because whites are "us," and the Left cannot accept that whites have diversity within their own ranks. When whites do or believe something which Leftist whites feel is culturally offensive, Leftists feel as though their own image is being tarnished, and so they react viciously.

Also, we know this attitude of belonging exists because philanthropy follows the same patterns. Because Leftists view whites as "us," they consider whites socially and capitally advantaged, regardless of whether most whites actually are. While Leftists will very quickly adopt programs to increase the college attendance rates of minority students, the New York Times reports that working-class white Christian students from rural, economically poorer areas (i.e., from different cultures) were far more likely to have their college applications rejected -- not due to grades, but simply due to ROTC or 4-H membership, which indicate a "Red state" cultural belonging. And while Leftists jump at the chance to institute programs which provide material assistance for minority home-ownership, proposing the same kind of program specifically for whites would cause a major uproar.

So while this sort of behavior has the superficial appearance of multicultural benevolence -- a falsely kind dispersal of resources to "them" instead of selfishly keeping for "us" -- this kind of ideological discrimination displays a more deeply rooted racial categorizing, as though whites and blacks must have different cultures and thus deserve different expectations and benefits. As though whites, despite what Leftists may claim, are "we," and that giving to "us" instead of "them" would be a morally inferior misdirection of philanthropic effort. As though blacks -- despite bookloads of feel-good rhetoric -- can never really be "we."

Sadly, this same trend of perceptional belonging continues in the realm of ridicule, with the overwhelming acceptance of cultural slurs such as "hillbilly" and "redneck," while affording generous protection against terms such as "camel jockey" and the mother of all racial slurs, the unmentionable n-word. In a more sensible Leftist era, perhaps a people with different manners of dress, speech, behavior, and music would be considered another culture, worthy of acknowledgment and respected due to their contributions to diversity. But Leftists today view these so-called red-state rednecks as "us"...but simply a backward, "uncultured" version of us.

And this is precisely why Leftists find the existence of minority conservatives so offensive: because their concept of "us and them" is turned on its face, and they are forced to confront the fact that a Christian conservative is visibly worthy of their tolerance. Of course, conservatives know that a racial category doesn't necessarily demand cohesion with a particular culture, although behavioral trends may link cultures/behaviors and races together, but what this liberal attitude displays is that Leftists -- far beyond the group they so heartlessly criticize -- are mired beyond hope in a swamp of racial stereotyping and the subsequent guilt which pursues it.

So in light of this conclusion, the Left has one of two options if they are indeed interested in walking their talk. Option one, they can either abandon their claims to multiculturalism and accept the idea that two cultures are never morally equal. Option two, they can start giving white, Christian conservatives the same kind of tolerance they enjoy giving to Muslims. Can't have both. Can't have neither.

Jeremy Egerer is a recent convert to Christian conservatism from radical liberalism and is the editor of the Seattle website www.americanclarity.com.
Most Leftists enjoy thinking of themselves as colorblind philanthropists, hell-bent on erasing bigotry from the public mind, bringing every racial category into economic harmony, and uniting every culture in a sort of tolerant, egalitarian utopia.  But is this self-assessment true?

In order to be truly multicultural, one has to have a tolerant approach to all other cultures, since -- coming from a postmodern, atheistic perspective -- there can be no right or wrong culture, and we all have to live peacefully with one another. But while most Leftists are increasingly tolerant of foreign cultures, their tendency toward domestic bigotry yields the assumption that multiculturalism is not truly multicultural, but is laden with racially based tendencies.

For instance, the concept of tolerance first necessitates an "us" and a "them." Without this concept of "us and them," there exists no standard of behavior for tolerance and generosity, since we would be incapable of defining who requires a more understanding and benevolent approach. After all, when you are aware that someone has a different culture from yours, you should theoretically approach him as though there will be some misunderstandings and as though you have an increased need to be patient and accepting.

However, when the Left interacts with other nativist cultures, meaning with white American conservatives, you can expect many prohibited, inter-cultural, discriminatory behaviors to become socially acceptable, simply because the American Left doesn't recognize white American conservatives to be "them." If Leftists did, then surely they would have a more respectful approach regarding our expectations for gender roles, sexual interaction, theology, government's purpose, and abortion (or at least a respect similar to their protection of French Muslims' right to wear the burkha). But neither this protection nor this respect are anywhere to be found.

The question is, why?

Simply put, when someone views a person or people as being one of "us," he tends to hold that person or people to his same standards, applying morality and the ensuing punishments to that person as though that person shared the same values, thus denying the "us" person an excuse for deviations from the moral norm. Also, when a group view another group as "us," they tend to feel as though the second group represent them in some way, and so they seek to protect their own self-image by regulating the behavior of those whom they consider in their group. (This kind of thinking explains why Leftists enjoy repeatedly apologizing for and trying to undo the historical actions of other people whose only personal resemblance to Leftists is skin color.)  The problem involved with domestic liberalism is that white American conservatives do not share the same values, the same culture, or the same purpose with Leftists, leading us to wonder whether this assumption of "us" is valid at all, and why it even exists.

The answer, of course, is that this categorization of "we" can be due only to the combination of racial category and nationality, as there exists no other category by which to liken our two groups. National identity cannot be the sole reason, since many foreign cultures take part in American citizenship and enjoy more benefits of tolerance than white conservative Christians. And culture cannot be the uniting factor, since the Left and Right cultures are nearly diametrically opposed on every major issue.

But most white conservative Americans are consistently derided for not accepting the values of the secular Left, as though we are not worthy of autonomy from their cultural impositions. It is as though blacks, Hispanics, and Arabs all deserve their special cultural acceptance, because they are "them," but whites must be held perfectly to Leftism, because whites are "us," and the Left cannot accept that whites have diversity within their own ranks. When whites do or believe something which Leftist whites feel is culturally offensive, Leftists feel as though their own image is being tarnished, and so they react viciously.

Also, we know this attitude of belonging exists because philanthropy follows the same patterns. Because Leftists view whites as "us," they consider whites socially and capitally advantaged, regardless of whether most whites actually are. While Leftists will very quickly adopt programs to increase the college attendance rates of minority students, the New York Times reports that working-class white Christian students from rural, economically poorer areas (i.e., from different cultures) were far more likely to have their college applications rejected -- not due to grades, but simply due to ROTC or 4-H membership, which indicate a "Red state" cultural belonging. And while Leftists jump at the chance to institute programs which provide material assistance for minority home-ownership, proposing the same kind of program specifically for whites would cause a major uproar.

So while this sort of behavior has the superficial appearance of multicultural benevolence -- a falsely kind dispersal of resources to "them" instead of selfishly keeping for "us" -- this kind of ideological discrimination displays a more deeply rooted racial categorizing, as though whites and blacks must have different cultures and thus deserve different expectations and benefits. As though whites, despite what Leftists may claim, are "we," and that giving to "us" instead of "them" would be a morally inferior misdirection of philanthropic effort. As though blacks -- despite bookloads of feel-good rhetoric -- can never really be "we."

Sadly, this same trend of perceptional belonging continues in the realm of ridicule, with the overwhelming acceptance of cultural slurs such as "hillbilly" and "redneck," while affording generous protection against terms such as "camel jockey" and the mother of all racial slurs, the unmentionable n-word. In a more sensible Leftist era, perhaps a people with different manners of dress, speech, behavior, and music would be considered another culture, worthy of acknowledgment and respected due to their contributions to diversity. But Leftists today view these so-called red-state rednecks as "us"...but simply a backward, "uncultured" version of us.

And this is precisely why Leftists find the existence of minority conservatives so offensive: because their concept of "us and them" is turned on its face, and they are forced to confront the fact that a Christian conservative is visibly worthy of their tolerance. Of course, conservatives know that a racial category doesn't necessarily demand cohesion with a particular culture, although behavioral trends may link cultures/behaviors and races together, but what this liberal attitude displays is that Leftists -- far beyond the group they so heartlessly criticize -- are mired beyond hope in a swamp of racial stereotyping and the subsequent guilt which pursues it.

So in light of this conclusion, the Left has one of two options if they are indeed interested in walking their talk. Option one, they can either abandon their claims to multiculturalism and accept the idea that two cultures are never morally equal. Option two, they can start giving white, Christian conservatives the same kind of tolerance they enjoy giving to Muslims. Can't have both. Can't have neither.

Jeremy Egerer is a recent convert to Christian conservatism from radical liberalism and is the editor of the Seattle website www.americanclarity.com.

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