You Didn't Build It...because I Didn't Earn It
It isn't socialism that explains Obama's dismissive "you didn't build that" remark toward people of talent and individual initiative; it's the culture of affirmative action. As I listened to Obama's silly, if not pathetic, comments, I was reminded of nothing so much as the comments and attitudes of people like him: the so-called "multicultural" affirmative-action students one encounters in colleges and universities.
These are people who, like Obama, earned little except a greased skid because of the color of their skin. They knew that by any competitive standard of merit, they were undeserving. The faculty and other students knew it. And the affirmative action students knew that everyone knew it.
Obama knows he didn't have what it took to get into Columbia, and he didn't have what it took to get into Harvard Law. Let's face an inescapable reality. If Obama had great grades, his transcripts would be in a full-page ad in the New York Times.
Obama became president of the Harvard Law Review (HLR) without ever having an article published in it, a status that separated him from every other HLR president who preceded him. In fact, while Obama was the HLR's first black president, few people know that 70 years earlier, Charles Houston had become the HLR's first black editor, contradicting the myth that black people cannot succeed without affirmative action. Obama didn't possess the skills to be on the HLR, let alone to be the review's president.
What Obama had was an ascriptive characteristic, slightly black skin, at a time when there were racial divisions -- some real, some manipulated -- that were fracturing the Harvard law student body. Obama was chosen to ameliorate political tensions, not because of his brilliance.
If you come of age in an environment where nearly everyone around you competed and worked hard to get where they are and you didn't, the way you defend against the inevitable ensuing feelings of inadequacy is to create a psychological rationale that no one, absolutely no one, got anywhere except with a leg up and a helping hand from others. Their "affirmative action" is just less conspicuous than yours, but the bottom line is that you are no different from them.
When faculty make affirmative-action hires, each of those hires knows that there were people passed over who were eminently more qualified for the position -- people who worked harder and published more in better places. In an environment that truly valued achievement over ascription, they, not you, would have been hired. Your very presence is a testimonial that the system is corrupt.
So, the inner voice says, I didn't build it; I know that, but neither did they. I assuage my guilt by making my reality their reality. I am redefining success and all that goes into it to conform to my own reality.
For Obama, the psychological dissonance was made even greater when he was granted a Nobel Peace Prize not for what he accomplished, but for what he was supposed to accomplish and obviously hasn't.
There have been calls in colleges and universities to exempt black students from all examinations -- not just standardized tests -- because such examinations are culturally biased. There has been a heated discussion over the elimination of the AP (advanced placement) and honors programs at elite public high schools because few minorities qualify for the classes. And hardly a semester goes by without someone calling for grading black students on Ebonics rather than on the criteria of standard college English, the English which, allegedly, everyone is supposed to master in college.
This mindset proposes that whites made it only because the culture itself is their affirmative action. They didn't build it; the culture enabled them to build it. No one builds anything; every creation is a product of cultural accommodation, an accommodation that minorities do not receive.
This is the racial variant of Marx's fundamental concepts of the base and superstructure, concepts from which the entire Marxist critique of civilization emanates. The economic base -- the system of production -- determines everything else. That everything else, Marxists call the superstructure. Consequently, art, history, literature, drama, even science are all determined by the economic base and designed to legitimize it.
Racial nationalists have simply supplanted economics with race. With race as the base, the superstructure -- the culture of society -- is simply the legitimizing instrument of race. According to this mindset, blacks and other minorities can't succeed because the system is designed intrinsically to cause them to fail.
With Obama, we have entered a new cultural era, one where the very foundations of individual initiative, creativity, and achievement are called into question. Obama didn't build it -- and it only appears that others did, because their skin color enabled them to achieve.
Welcome to the new post-racial society, where there is no such thing as individual achievement.
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