Real Inclusion Means Everyone Feels Included
Up in Canada, some lefties are holding an "It's Okay to Be (against) White(ness)" event, and they seemed shocked that anyone should find this problematic. Lindsay Yates, an event organizer, had this to say:
This event is about recognizing privilege that is granted based on racial identity and helping students who do have access to white privilege think more about how to be allies to racialized communities[.] ... The event is focused on diversity, inclusion and conversations about how we can all work together to help achieve racial justice.
Yes, but just you try going to the event and suggesting that lefties like Lindsay Yates are going about helping to "achieve racial justice" all wrong. Speaking for myself, I'd say I don't get to have access to "white privilege" because that's available only to white liberals: conservatives need not apply. Conversations? In a year when all across the world, lefties are de-platforming anyone who disagrees with them?
Hey, lefties! Sometimes you should listen to people who disagree with you. You might learn something!
Still, I get the point about white privilege and the dirge of multiculturalism. It really is too bad that northwestern European white guys got to invent science and capitalism and democracy and central banking and global commerce and got to take all the credit while most of the rest of us were serfs on some lord's estate. But I suggest that a better approach involves not conferences about whiteness and fantasies of "racial justice," but whimsical cultural appropriations like Robert Colescott's "George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware." Yes, even I can enjoy a painting of black guys in revolutionary uniforms rollicking about in a boat on the storm-tossed waters of the mighty Delaware River in 1776, just as it is good fun to interpret Hamilton as rap. It's a lot more fun than the dull recitations of postmodernist pedantry.
But really, has anything changed? Many of Shakespeare's comedies were set in Italy. What was that about, Will? Weren't there enough rich, careless Brit youngsters for you to satirize back in the day? I can't believe that the only shrews that needed taming lived in far off Padua.
I was dining with an older Jewish couple recently. She had been reading Parallel Lives, about five British Victorian marriages. I thought about the limited cultural residue of Jewish life in eastern Europe, which in the popular narrative does not extend too much beyond Fiddler on the Roof, Barbara Streisand's Yentl, and the harrowing narratives of the Holocaust. Meanwhile, I, as a transplanted Brit, can happily own the entire Anglo-Saxon cultural narrative, everything from Shakespeare to Dickens to Disraeli, and happily weave it in with my man Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, John D. Rockefeller, and the Wright Brothers while humming "What a Wonderful World" to myself.
Life is hard. If you came to America directly from a tribal or agricultural world, you don't have a big civilized cultural narrative to help make you feel important. And no amount of liberal shenanigans about all cultures being equal is going to change that. You are going to have to appropriate the Western cultural canon, so why not get on with it?
But there is a problem. The American national narrative, all the stuff about the Free and the Brave, Manifest Destiny, Go West Young Man, Morning in America, Make America Great Again, has no place for liberals. You can't create a post-national politics all about the creative compassion of progressives and their glorious vision of diversity, inclusion, and racial justice until you have divided the nation-state into a dozen petty identities ruled by the conceit of a wise global elite.
Then there is another problem. The world that liberals want to build has starring roles only for liberals: a wise Latina here, a community organizer there, the world of well educated creatives and organizers of progressive "conversations." What has that to do with ordinary people, from the immigrants working hard to find a foothold in the modern economy to the ordinary deplorables navigating the permanent revolution of the workplace, people just looking for a way to get a decent job, buy a home, raise a family, and save something for retirement?
The point of a great cultural narrative is to give everyone a role, to make it broad enough that everyone can find meaning in it. That is the genius of Make America Great Again. It is a vision of America open for everyone who calls himself American.
The liberals from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. know nothing but their own miserable arc of history. There is even this guy profiled in the New York Times who has cut himself off from all media since the dreadful day of November 9, 2016. He puts on noise-canceling headphones to make sure he doesn't hear the news.
And these are the people who believe in inclusion and diversity?