Wednesday, February 16, 2022


Matt Bai, a fiercely independent thinker who somehow always lands in exactly the same place after contemplating any issue, has now pondered what he regards as the two major parties' views of Americanism. You will be astonished to learn that he is very dissatisfied with what he hears from -- sing it with me now, kids -- BOTH SIDES! (Although he hates it when people say that, as I'll explain below.)

Bai writes:
... I have not felt as utterly repulsed from the mainstream of both parties as I do right now. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

... I’m confronted with two extreme interpretations of what it means to be American, and I emphatically reject them both.
To Bai's credit, he recognizes that Republicans are dangerous.
It’s not just that Donald Trump and his imitators would blow up the integrity of our elections, or that they have expressly countenanced a violent insurrection against the federal government, or that they basically admit to having no governing agenda beyond the reclamation of some mythical White heritage.

It’s also that the Trumpist GOP advances the notion, in all kinds of ways, that citizenship alone doesn’t mean you belong here — that your race or ethnicity, the language that you speak, or the identity you choose can somehow make you less American than your neighbor.
But those Democrats, man ... they may not be an existential threat to not democracy, but they're kinda awful, too, y'know?
But that doesn’t mean a lot of us who consider ourselves liberal feel kinship with today’s Democratic Party — or that we’d even be welcome if we did.

Rather than focus on traditional American ideals of citizenship over race or origin, the left is in thrall to its own misguided cultural revolution (yes, I use the term deliberately), embracing a vision of the United States that lays waste to the 20th-century liberalism of its greatest icons.
So ... all Democrats are engaging in a "cultural revolution" of "the left"? No, just the ones that get up Matt Bai's nose. But they're the only ones who matter, apparently.
In their zeal to beat back Trumpism, the loudest Democratic groups have transformed into its Bizarro World imitators. Tossing aside ideals of equal opportunity and free expression, the new leftists obsess on identity as much as their adversaries do — but instead of trying to restore some obsolete notion of a White-dominated society, they seek vengeance under the guise of virtue.
Who are these Democrats? Are they House members? Senators? Mayors? Governors? Party officials?

No. The only person Bai identifies by name is a writer who's never run for office or worked as a party official at all.
One of the bibles of this movement is a book called “How to Be an Antiracist,” in which Ibram X. Kendi declares: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
How to Be an Antiracist is not a Democratic Party document. It is not embraced by the entirety of the party leadership. It probably isn't embraced by the majority of the party leadership, many of whom may never have even heard of it, much less read it.

And now we come to the mind-reading portion of our program, in which Matt Bai tells us that he understand what Ibram X. Kendi believes more than Kendi does.
This is not — as the celebrated author claims — an expression of support for Lyndon B. Johnson-style affirmative action, which still makes sense to me. It is a case for the kind of social upheaval that occurred when foreign empires relinquished their colonies.
So when Kendi invokes LBJ, he isn't telling the truth about his own thoughts, because Kendi can't be expected to know what Kendi believes. Matt Bai can, however. Matt Bai is the world's greatest reader of minds.

Here's what Kendi writes in his book:
"The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination."

Since the 1960s, racist power has commandeered the term “racial discrimination,” transforming the act of discriminating on the basis of race into an inherently racist act. But if racial discrimination is defined as treating, considering, or making a distinction in favor or against an individual based on that person’s race, then racial discrimination is not inherently racist. The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. Someone reproducing inequity through permanently assisting an overrepresented racial group into wealth and power is entirely different than someone challenging that inequity by temporarily assisting an underrepresented racial group into relative wealth and power until equity is reached.

The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination. As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in 1965, “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.” As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in 1978, “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.”
But this isn't good enough for Matt Bai, who knows what's in Ibram X. Kendi's heart better than Kendi does -- and who also knows that Kendi is the chief spokesman for Democrats on both race and Americanism even though Kendi has never had any job in the party or run for any office under its aegis.

Now, don't you dare call what Bai says about the two parties bothsides-ism. Bai doesn't like that. He writes:
This is about the point where some (most likely some in my own business) will scream: “Both sidesism!” That’s the now-cliche argument that any criticism of Democrats whatsoever must be some kind of journalistic reflex to equate the parties, when clearly one is worse than the other.
No fair saying that! (Even if it is true not just about this essay, but about everything Bai has ever written.)

Bai admits that Republicans are worse. But it's clear that he feels Democrats are really, really bad, even if he can't name a single Democratic politician or official whose words or deeds justify his disgust.

No comments: