Political Correctness consuming itself

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”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fw

    naw. this gets it all wrong.

    The clintons are using the karl rove playbook. win at all costs!

    they WANT the contest to turn racial. Obama so far has been the post racial candidate. a man who is running who just happens to be black. He could beat Senator Clinton this way! Look at Iowa.

    the clintons want to push him into the jesse jackson/al sharpton ghetto of “identity politics”.

    You won´t see sharpton and jackson support obama because an obama presidency would obviate the need for these panderers, and drain them of prestige and power and the absurd assertion that they speak for black folk by virtue of their skin color.

    if Bill-ary loses in s carolina it will be because “he got the black vote.”

    They want Obama to come out and defend himself in a way that makes him the black candidate and are baiting accordingly. Bill gets to say alot of stuff that Hillary can´t as the designated pit-bull. doesn´t seem to care if costs lost dignity as an ex-president.

    At least in california, Latinos and blacks have alot of tension…. all the more reason to foment this stuff…. clinton will need the latino vote.

  • fw

    naw. this gets it all wrong.

    The clintons are using the karl rove playbook. win at all costs!

    they WANT the contest to turn racial. Obama so far has been the post racial candidate. a man who is running who just happens to be black. He could beat Senator Clinton this way! Look at Iowa.

    the clintons want to push him into the jesse jackson/al sharpton ghetto of “identity politics”.

    You won´t see sharpton and jackson support obama because an obama presidency would obviate the need for these panderers, and drain them of prestige and power and the absurd assertion that they speak for black folk by virtue of their skin color.

    if Bill-ary loses in s carolina it will be because “he got the black vote.”

    They want Obama to come out and defend himself in a way that makes him the black candidate and are baiting accordingly. Bill gets to say alot of stuff that Hillary can´t as the designated pit-bull. doesn´t seem to care if costs lost dignity as an ex-president.

    At least in california, Latinos and blacks have alot of tension…. all the more reason to foment this stuff…. clinton will need the latino vote.

  • fw

    This is EXACTLY where Obama is trying to be different. speaking no evil of others and avoiding spin. watch him to see this….

  • fw

    This is EXACTLY where Obama is trying to be different. speaking no evil of others and avoiding spin. watch him to see this….

  • organshoes

    That’s hardly a Karl Rove plan. It’s pure Clinton (oxymoron alert!), from head to toe. These are The War Room people. Slogans, opportunities, and sound bytes.
    And when in his political life (or private life, for that matter) has Bill Clinton ever shied away from anything undignified? This is no new tactic. The most dignified thing he ever did was to maintain his young daughter’s privacy.
    And, while Obama maintains an air of dignity himself, it may only serve to make him a dignified loser in the end. This dignity comes at the expense of substance. He’s the king of the vacuous statement, from what I can tell. Remaining vacuous, he remains weak. Everyone might like, respect, trust, even love him, but they have to believe in more than his favorable aura to vote him in as president.
    And does anyone really think they’re getting a complete picture of any candidate? One that’s not filtered by what the press presumes we need to know? I still long for a test pattern for at least 5 hours on my television, during which time pundits and anchors and reporters gather information to report when broadcast resumes, or just remain silent. They are way too invested in unknowns, and too little interested in facts.

  • organshoes

    That’s hardly a Karl Rove plan. It’s pure Clinton (oxymoron alert!), from head to toe. These are The War Room people. Slogans, opportunities, and sound bytes.
    And when in his political life (or private life, for that matter) has Bill Clinton ever shied away from anything undignified? This is no new tactic. The most dignified thing he ever did was to maintain his young daughter’s privacy.
    And, while Obama maintains an air of dignity himself, it may only serve to make him a dignified loser in the end. This dignity comes at the expense of substance. He’s the king of the vacuous statement, from what I can tell. Remaining vacuous, he remains weak. Everyone might like, respect, trust, even love him, but they have to believe in more than his favorable aura to vote him in as president.
    And does anyone really think they’re getting a complete picture of any candidate? One that’s not filtered by what the press presumes we need to know? I still long for a test pattern for at least 5 hours on my television, during which time pundits and anchors and reporters gather information to report when broadcast resumes, or just remain silent. They are way too invested in unknowns, and too little interested in facts.

  • Joe

    Hillary’s campaign is doing exactly what the Ragin’ Cajin aka James Carvell has always advocated. The only thing new about it is that she is doing it in a primary.

  • Joe

    Hillary’s campaign is doing exactly what the Ragin’ Cajin aka James Carvell has always advocated. The only thing new about it is that she is doing it in a primary.

  • CRB

    So when and where is the wake?! Is it time to celebrate?

  • CRB

    So when and where is the wake?! Is it time to celebrate?


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