A favorite topos of conservative talk radio is a taunt to the media consisting of some such hypothetical reversal of the political poles to the effect of “Can you imagine what the reaction would be if x did y?”—where x is a conservative politician and y is some outrageous act by a non-conservative that has been greeted by a shrug of the media’s shoulders or a complete lack of notice. Regular readers will know that I am no defender of the media, but in this case it’s time for my fellow critics of their ever-multiplying iniquities to get wise. The fact is that for some time now the media have not been playing by the same rules that apply to the rest of us. Having launched their partisan campaign against Mr. Trump and his “deplorable” supporters in the name of morality, the rules of which by definition must apply to all equally, they have since veered into pre-moral behavior that harkens back to our tribal past. It’s time we noticed.
Consider, for example, this passage from a Wall Street Journal editorial about the Covington Catholic Boys—whose story, as it is now known to all Americans not living in caves in the Ozarks, I will not bother to rehearse. “It is telling,” writes the editorialist, “that some of the most disgusting tweets were the work of the blue-check elites who pride themselves on their tolerance.” The writer appears not to have noticed that “the blue-check elites,” in reality, no longer pride themselves on their tolerance. The only thing they pride themselves on these days is their own moral superiority to the “deplorable” masses who voted for President Trump and, therefore, the passion with which they hate the latter and all his works. The universal standard demanded by Kant no longer applies on the left, who prefer the pre-Enlightenment standard associated with the old honor culture: a standard which applies only within an elite and not to those outside it. And the Left, in case you haven’t noticed, are the new elite.
We probably have Critical Race Theory to thank for this—that by which Mr. Trump and all associated with him (up to and including, in an increasing number of cases, the entire white race) are supposed to be guilty of White Supremacist beliefs, also known as “Whiteness.” This latter term is identified by various left-wing racial theorists (nowadays, racial theorists are almost all left-wing) as a system of oppression by whites of “Persons of Color.” Anyone not himself a Person of Color (POC) who is born into this evil system is a part of it, whether he wants to be or not, and is by definition an oppressor of the POCs merely by virtue of his “white privilege.” Those who stand against white privilege, therefore, are allowed (like Sarah Jeong of the New York Times) the compensatory privilege of hating white people with impunity and without being racists.
I’m afraid that the Covington boys can no longer claim the benefit of tolerance by the media and cultural elite in this country.
There’s no point in objecting to this remarkable idea as racist itself, since the definition of racism was changed when the ever-thinning ranks of racial liberals weren’t looking. It’s no longer invidious discrimination based on race but invidious non-discrimination based on race; it’s no longer belief in the moral superiority of your own race but non-belief in the superiority of other races to the white one. According to William Voegli, writing in the Fall issue of The Claremont Review, this “Racism, revised” can be traced back to the declaration by the academic psychologist Patricia Bidol-Padva in 1970 that
racism equals prejudice plus power. This alternative definition, a sharp departure from the older understanding still employed by most Americans, has gained wide acceptance within social science academic disciplines, especially in the more recently created “victimhood studies” departments. For social justice leftists indoctrinated in this viewpoint, it is now self-evident that racism has nothing to do with a person’s attitudes about racial groups, and everything to do with where one stands on questions of redistributive justice among such groups. The words of one blogger reflect the resultant bullying certitude: “Your first step is to accept that ‘a hatred or intolerance of another race’ is not the definition of racism. The dictionary is wrong. Get over it.”
I’m afraid that the Covington boys can no longer claim the benefit of tolerance by the media and cultural elite in this country—not of their whiteness, let alone their religion or their political views. The arbitrary and discriminatory rules that are applied to them by the elites do not apply to the elites themselves, and they (and we) had better get used to being permanently in the wrong, merely because we don’t belong to the class of those elites who claim for themselves the privilege of redefining right and wrong.