There's been a lot lately about the correlation of forces that is bringing downscale white folks to Donald Trump if they can or to crystal meth if they must.  My conclusion remains, "we squandered the peace dividend on experiments against reality."  Or, more colorfully, stop enabling dysfunction, you'll get less of it.  In The Atlantic, Molly Ball tours with the Trump campaign, and poses a social-science hypothesis featuring "racial resentment based on historic white entitlement and a backlash to the upsurge in leftist identity politics that has marked American politics in the age of Obama."  In plainer language, it's the downside of the Oppression Olympics.  Reduced to a question, it's questioning the privilege of the protected classes.

Why are they allowed to do things that we’re not allowed to do?

Sometimes, you have to do the ethnography, and report back.
Trump’s supporters have told me that minorities commit crimes with impunity, that illegal immigrants get benefits at higher rates than Americans, that gays and Muslims are afforded special status by the government. They lament that Confederate symbols, and the people whose heritage they represent, are sidelined while diversity is celebrated. They don’t understand why Democrats can campaign on overt appeals to the interests of blacks and women and Latinos, but Republicans are deemed offensive if they offer to represent the interests of whites and men.
You can fact check the perceptions, but that comes close to rationalizing the failures of protected-status minorities by performing logical arabesques to conceal things that appear perfectly clear.  Here's James Howard Kunstler, no fan of Donald Trump, with a salty interpretation of the logical arabesques.  It begins by noting where the enablers of dysfunction hang out.
The Left has lost its mind in a climax of zealotry over the new religion of social justice, with its sacred “victims” (blacks, LBGTQs, etc), its sacred tenets (“diversity,” “inclusion”), and its endless charges of blasphemy (renamed “micro-aggressions”) against heretics (“racists,” “homophobes”) who object to absolutist thought policing. This was nicely described by Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University in a recent podcast with author Sam Harris. (Skip to 1 hour 30 minutes in the long discussion.)

The religion got started on the campuses, where social science careerists ginned up an elaborate doctrine to justify the self-importance of their new departments in so-called race, gender, and privilege studies — the main point of which was to create new categories of sacred victims suffering spiritual torments (“traumas”) that could never be healed. These crypto-religious “studies” led to a multiplication of demons that had to be exorcized by an equal multiplication of diversity deans and committees aimed at punishing blasphemies — such as arguing against affirmative action (“racist”), or wearing a Mexican sombrero at a tequila party (“cultural appropriation” + “racist”), which happened recently at posh Bowdoin College.

The hysteria incited by the academic diversity corps spread readily and easily into Democratic Party politics, where badly-needed minority votes could be harvested to shore up the dwindling votes of traditional supporters such as labor unions, and make up for (you might say cover up) the Party’s complete surrender to both Wall Street and the war industry.
That's about as pithy a summary description of the way the Democrats have to have an aggrieved base that never gets out of poverty, because people who discover the connection between behaving like a respectable member of the middle class and voting like a respectable member of the middle class follows directly.  And the surrender to rent-seekers follows directly.  The more involved the national government is in mundane matters, the more rents will be generated and dissipated.

But it is the cultural collapse that gets some of the Trump voters asking,

Why are they allowed to do things that we’re not allowed to do?

Ultimately, Mr Kunstler notes, the pernicious celebration of transgressivity leaves the social justice warriors with nothing.
Possibly the worst blasphemy — which I will now state — is the idea that the new religion of social justice exists to disguise the vast disappointment over the failure of the civil rights movement to uplift — that is, raise out of poverty, illiteracy, and crime — a substantial part of the black population. In fact, much of the official policy of the civil rights era only made matters worse, especially the well-known failures of the welfare system with all its disincentives to economic striving. So, the well-intentioned people of the Left — a dying breed — are left in dismay and embarrassment, fighting demons, while black America chooses more and more remain an oppositional culture, apart, antagonistic, and increasingly bent on vengeance.

Enter Trump, perhaps the worst figure possible to call bullshit on this vast matrix of dishonesty, with his ugly cohort of “poorly-educated” white yahoo supporters. Why? Because the well-educated non-yahoos of both parties are too cowardly and too corrupt — too busy making money off the war racketeers and the medical racketeers, and the Wall Street racketeers, and the campus racketeers — to take on some of the central lies of our times, which Trump manages to do in the crudest possible ways.
A year ago, I envisioned a way forward for normal Americans to reclaim the institutions. "Perhaps, though, if the Perpetually Aggrieved wage perpetual Oppression Olympics on each other (how dare that whitemale Christian Hedges comment on capitalism's treatment of women of color?) normal people will obtain breathing space to reclaim the academy, and other institutions."  I wrote that before Mr Trump announced his quest for the nomination, and before the common culture fractured further.  And now comes the effort by the supposed non-yahoos of the Republican Party conniving to nominate a presidential candidate not currently running, all for Our. Own. Good.  Perhaps there will be that breathing space, but there will be fewer sclerotic institutions in the way.

No comments: