Quote of the week

All we are saying, or at least what Robert Stacy McCain is saying, is give atavistic xenophobia a chance:

Except for straight, white, Protestant males, the only path to authentic identity under the multicultural regime is to separate yourself from the mainstream and strike a pose of alienated grievance. You’re only an authentic woman if you’re a militant feminist, and you’re only an authentic Latino if you’re marching with MALDEF.

Because such a posture only makes sense in the context of oppression and victimhood, everybody walks around with their insensitivity-detectors set to “stun,” prepared to blast anyone suspected of less-than-perfect tolerance. If it weren’t for racism, sexism and homophobia, the identity-politics lobbies wouldn’t have a fundraising raison d’etre, so they have a vested interest in magnifying every grievance.

“Tolerance,” incidentally, used to mean the ability to stand pain (from the Latin tolerare, to endure), or the range of acceptable deviation in a piece being machined. Its least-useful connotation, though, is not in this particular realm, but where it’s buckled behind the quantity “zero,” invariably found attached to an institution that honors buzzwords over brains.

This is, incidentally, not to deny the existence of actual grievances; were every last one of them immediately resolved, however, a lot of people would be out of work.

This mau-mau attitude actually causes more problems than it solves. The activist types who acquire money and influence by exaggerating evidence of “oppression” don’t really give a damn about the people they claim to represent. CAIR isn’t about the average Muslim any more than the National Council of Churches is about the average Methodist or the AFL-CIO is about the average blue-collar worker. The identity-politics professionals are merely exploiting the collective groups they claim to represent.

Not to mention the fact that anyone who tried to speak for the Syrian-Lebanese/Mexican/Scots-Irish likes of me would have to be wearing more hats than Bartholomew Cubbins.

And speaking of hats, a tip of the nearest one to Tom Wolfe, for putting “mau-mau” into the vernacular.

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6 comments

  1. Cary »

    13 November 2009 · 12:18 pm

    Now there was a book.

  2. Jeff Shaw »

    13 November 2009 · 1:34 pm

    This has been a pet peeve of mine for years. I actually got called a bigot on a chat forum for saying such things.

    I have to admit, I can only subscribe to the metallurgical or medical definition of tolerance. Otherwise I don’t know what that word means.

    I’m all for creative writing and other forms of word art, but words have to mean something. Please make them mean something. Besides if you want me to accept / embrace a culture, tolerance means I have to “endure” it or put up with it – not embrace or accept it.

    For my money, I’d rather embrace someone’s culture. They’ve (whoever THEY are), picked the wrong word.

  3. Andrea Harris »

    13 November 2009 · 1:59 pm

    When Westerners talk about “culture” they usually are thinking about cute trendy eateries serving interesting (but not too interesting — hold the deep fried scorpions and cobra blood wine please!) food, and “world music” cds to add to their collection. They aren’t usually considering stuff like cultural norms that are very different from the ones we know (such as the idea that women should stay indoors or only go out escorted by a male relative, or that gays are an abomination who should be slaughtered with impunity). Be careful what you are “embracing.”

  4. Jeff Shaw »

    13 November 2009 · 3:35 pm

    Be careful what you are “embracing.”

    Andrea, I think I agree with you. There are certainly norms that aren’t embracable or acceptable under any circumstances.

  5. McGehee »

    13 November 2009 · 9:51 pm

    I forget who the participants were, but there was a famous exchange among British politicians that went something like this:

    “I don’t know whether you will die of the pox or on the gallows.”

    “That depends on whether I embrace your mistress or your principles.”

  6. CGHill »

    13 November 2009 · 9:54 pm

    Gladstone and Disraeli, in that order.

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