Sunday, January 9, 2011


In his review of David Remnick's recent book on Barack Obama, Christopher Caldwell writes,
The struggle for racial equality appears in these pages as a moral lodestar, the only real litmus test of contemporary political morality. Mastering the history and rhetoric of civil rights, reading the rest of American history through it, rendering one's personality acceptable to those who speak in its name—to Remnick, all of this is so self-evidently admirable as to need no explanation.
I can believe it. I had the thought recently (sweeping generalizations ahead) that to American liberals, the ultimate measure of an American's morality is his attitude toward black Americans. That's not a bad criterion to apply, though it shouldn’t be the only important one. What's pernicious is that to liberals, support for blacks is synonymous with support for Democrats. They believe that Democrats are the party that defends blacks, and therefore to vote Republican is to oppose blacks (and prove oneself immoral). The specifics of the Democrats' platform, their actual policies and those policies' effect on blacks (much less on anyone else), are irrelevant. (Try explaining to a liberal that he should oppose any further rise in the minimum wage because there'd be fewer jobs for young blacks. Seriously, try it sometime.) It's a destructive string of false logic that nonetheless benefits two groups: liberals, who by the simple pulling of a lever every two years can establish their irrefutable virtue; and Democratic politicians, who are happy to scoop up the resultant ballots.

(Link via Jonathan Last.)