You must read Noemie Emery’s “The Weekly Standard” article in The Wages of Sensitivity, which discusses how the Clintons are being accused of racial insensitivity whenever they criticize Obama, the kind of purposeful misinterpretation that they themselves pioneered:
For the Clintons, with their sense of private entitlement running head on into their boomer assertion of moral enlightenment, all this must come as a shock. As Matt Bai wrote on the New York Times website, “It must be a kind of nightmare for both Clintons to be running . . . against a talented black man, to be caught in an existential choice between losing their mythical status in the black community, or possibly losing to a candidate they feel certain does not deserve to win.” It’s all the worse as they are in part the authors of their own misfortune: “The Clintons embody the generation that invented identity politics and political correctness,” as Bai informs us, and so sprung the trap on themselves.
They embraced Anita Hill, and her (unproven) story of feminist grievance, and helped ride it to victory in the Year of the Woman; they promised a cabinet that “looked like America” (though not quite as much so as George W. Bush’s), hectored opponents of affirmative action, and suggested impeachment was a device thought up by southern conservatives to punish the Clintons for having black friends. Now they find themselves unable to criticize a black man for what they think are legitimate reasons, because they helped to teach people that criticism is bias in disguise, and they can’t complain that their words have been misinterpreted, because the theory of hate speech maintains that the listener can project on to words uttered by others whatever motives he wants to see in them. If he declares himself offended, the listener has the last word.
Add this to the unforeseen clash of two groups who have been told for years by liberals that they are victims of everyone, and the result is explosive. It is, David Brooks writes, “a Tom Wolfe novel” beyond even Wolfe’s imagining. “All the rhetorical devices that have been a staple of identity politics are now being exploited by the Clinton and Obama campaigns,” Brooks continues, “competing to play the victim . . . accusing each other of insensitivity . . . deliberately misinterpreting each other’s comments in order to somehow imply that the other is morally retrograde. All the habits of verbal thuggery that have long been used against critics of affirmative action . . . and critics of radical feminism . . . are now being turned inward by the Democratic front-runners. . . . Every revolution devours its offspring, and it seems that the multicultural one does, too.”
HT: Wesley Pruden in “The Washington Times”