Wednesday, January 18, 2012


According to The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, Newt Gingrich is one of the great heroes in recent American racial history:

Next to the election of a black president, we'd say that Gingrich's standing O was the most compelling dramatization of racial progress so far this century.

This reads like something Taranto wrote to win a bet ("A hundred bucks says I can make a semi-convincing case that Newt Gingrich should be as much of a hero to African Americans as Barack Obama"), but no, he's serious.

It takes him a long time to work through this bit of sophistry, however. The road goes through Sunday's New York Times, specifically that preposterous op-ed in which Lee Siegel claimed that Mitt Romney is "the whitest white man to run for president in recent memory." Taranto:

Siegel conflates Romney's ideological criticism of Obama with "whiteness":
While Mr. Romney may, in some people's eyes, be a non-Christian, he is better than any of his opponents at synching his worldview with that of the evangelicals. He likes to present, with theological urgency, a stark choice between, in his words, President Obama's "entitlement society" and the true American freedom of an "opportunity society." ...

In this way, whether he means to or not, Mr. Romney connects with a central evangelic fantasy: that the Barack Obama years, far from being the way forward, are in fact a historical aberration, a tear in the white space-time continuum.

Armed with this, Taranto is off to (as it were) the races:

Siegel's implicit notion that only whites are capable of benefiting from economic freedom under a regime of legal equality amounts to an insidious theory of racial supremacy.

That is the idea that Newt Gingrich repudiated in answer to Juan Williams's (not particularly objectionable) question. That is what brought the crowd to their feet.

How do I even begin to unpack this?

We've had horrible racism in America, as well as a class war.

We used to have economic mobility (for whites) in this country. We used to have an expanding pie for the (white) non-rich. We started offering more legal opportunity to non-whites at just about the time the pie of the non-rich stopped expanding. So yeah, James, certain people are more capable of benefiting "under a regime of legal equality" than others, because they have a massive head start, economic opportunity isn't expanding, and schools and job prospects are getting worse in non-rich neighborhoods (which are frequently but not exclusively non-white).

Taranto thinks that if you don't believe everyone in America has equal opportunity right now -- or would have it if we could just rid the government and the country of all these damn socialists -- you're the racist. We passed a bunch of civil rights laws, and now all we need is economic libertarianism and there'll be no racism in America.

And that, he says, is what those racially enlightened South Carolina Republicans were cheering, Go bless their formerly racist but now 100% non-prejudiced hearts:

The people who stood and cheered as the former speaker forcefully defended the freedom of "every American of every background" were mostly white members of today's Republican Party in the state that started the Civil War and later produced "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman and Strom Thurmond. That it was Martin Luther King Day was lagniappe.

Translation: the only non-racist way to help non-whites who lack economic opportunity is not to try to help them at all. The only racists in America are those who want to do something about racism. The invisible hand is the real Martin Luther King.


grishaxxx said...

And while we are confident as to why Taranto has a job, why is there any excuse, still, for Siegel having one? I think he left Contrary far behind years ago (as if it were an old-country potato-blog....), but his boat hasn't reached port yet.

c u n d gulag said...

Newt is showing them how he will be the best possible candidate for black Americans.

Under him, they will rise to new heights!

At the end of a rope...

Betty Cracker said...

Taranto's argument is just staggeringly stupid on so many levels. He would be a better fit at the Mooney Times.

Kathy said...

I don't know what world Taranto lives in, but he's clueless about white Southern right-wingers. My boss, a respected community organizer with decades of experience, was on the Colbert Report Monday night discussing Alabama's horrible immigration law. When the local paper ran a story last week, one of the first commenters referred to him twice as "colored boy" and called him a pastor on the take for money and whores. He's not a pastor, he's not rich, and he's been happily married for about 40 years, but why let facts get in the way of a good racist rant? The SC audience and people like the commenter are not interested in equality of opportunity for black folks - or anyone else who doesn't look and think like they do. As far as they're concerned, any time a black person gets ahead, it takes something away from them.

: smintheus :: said...

Now Newt wants to allow that Invisible Hand to do unspeakable acts to 9 year old children as well.