Mitt Romney: The Whitest Man in the Room?
Some time back, I suggested that Romney is so squeaky-clean that, in their campaign, the Obamanistas would be reduced to snark-attacks focusing on the three things upon which they feel they can hurt him -- viz., that he is a rich, white Mormon.
That is precisely how the campaign has played out. The Obama allies in the mainstream media (MSM) -- which is to say, the entire MSM -- have written dozens of hit pieces on Mormonism -- pieces that never appeared, needless to say, during the time that rich, white Mormon Harry Reid (D-NV) has ruled the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has focused on blasting Romney for his wealth and his work at Bain Capital -- work that gave us companies like Staples, Domino's Pizza, and so on. Of course, none of the Democratic spokesmen (or the MSM) ever complained when John Kerry (D-MA) ran for president, even though Kerry was much richer and only married into the money (twice) rather than earned it.
Romney's whiteness has been hit by various super-PACs, including the organization the Obama campaign set up called "African Americans for Obama." But Obama's allies in the academic world are really stepping up to the plate. One of the loopiest attempts to attack Romney's race is from one Stephanie Li, an English professor.
Her vicious little hit piece on Romney has a truly stunning thesis. It is that Romney isn't merely white -- simple observation reveals that, surely, even to the uneducated. No, it takes some kind of scholar such as Ms. Li to discern that he is "the whitest man to run for president"! Now, the fellow obviously is not an albino, so Li is compelled to explain to us what she means.
Li invokes what she regards as a well-established -- what? scientific? -- theory called "Critical Race Theory." She avers that "scholars" in this "field" have "demonstrated" that "whiteness" is a "social identity built upon unearned entitlements." Demonstrated! Like physicists have demonstrated quantum theory!
Li quotes another race theorist, one Peggy McIntosh, who claims that "whiteness" is "an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks." Li does not indicate the evidence McIntosh offers for this bizarre claim.
Amazing, isn't it? If you are white, you automatically have all these tools at your disposal that apparently guarantee your success -- tools that no other races have, of course. The tools are there -- but invisible! (Maybe the reason the vast majority of whites don't know about all these tools, and remain poor or middle-class, is that the tools -- like little fairies! -- are invisible). Now we know where Obama came up with his mantra, "You didn't build that!"
This is nonsense -- the sort of nonsense that, as Orwell observed, is so silly that only intellectuals can believe it.
Start with the obvious fact that while Romney was sent to the best prep schools, so was Obama. And while Romney was given enough money to get through undergrad college, so was Obama.
But unlike Obama, Romney worked ferociously hard at BYU and finished with among the highest possible grades. Obama was by his own admission a mediocre student -- just how mediocre we'll apparently never know, because he refuses to release his transcripts or test scores. On the merits of his stellar grades and scores, Romney made it into Harvard, where he again finished near the top of his class with both J.D. and MBA degrees. The only one who received any privilege was Obama, who almost certainly got into Harvard by affirmative action.
The idea that Romney's success after college was due to white privilege is asinine on its face. Seventy-two percent of Americans or so are white, and all Americans have access to the same infrastructure, and most of us have had some good teachers and access to reasonable schools, but few of us have earned a quarter of a billion bucks legitimately and productively and have given to charity $50 million while doing it.
More generally, we might ask Ms. Li two questions. First, if whites are so "privileged," why have white women been the main beneficiaries of affirmative action? I mean, white women are just as white as white men, no? Or is this another case of some whites being conveniently whiter than other whites? Or has Ms. Li vociferously opposed affirmative action for white women?
Second, are whites really the most privileged people? The 2009 median household earnings by race tell us that the answer is no: that year, blacks averaged $38,400, Hispanics $39,700, whites $62,500, and Asians $75,000. Perhaps Ms. Li can explain why Asians aren't given the same treatment as whites under "Critical Race Theory" -- what? Are they even whiter than whites?
Somehow, I doubt that a coherent explanation for this can be given from that screwy theory.
Philosopher Gary Jason is a senior editor of Liberty and the author of Dangerous Thoughts (available through Amazon).