Occasionally you’ll read something so powerful and timely it helps you understand things you only partially grasped before…
I previously mentioned an essay by a retired Boston University professor,Angelo Codevilla. In the Fall 2016 issue of the Claremont Review of Books, he had an article called, “The Rise of Political Correctness.”
Until I went to the 18th Annual National White Privilege Conference (April 27 -30 at the Downtown Marriott) I had no idea how pervasive this ideology was.
The Conference billed itself as the usual left-wing celebration of multiculturalism.
An April 26 Kansas City Star editorial endorsing the conference made it seem that we could all benefit from it but the unfortunate fact was that those who most needed to attend were the least likely to be there.
This was a naïve view of what the conference was about.
It was not about persuasion. It was about coercion.
It was not about diversity as much as it was about the evils caused by the white race, capitalism and Christianity – in other words Western Civilization!
In a follow up opinion piece, Star writer Joe Robinson, claimed its purpose was not to “attack, demean, or degrade” any of the foregoing but simply to view them from a balanced perspective historically.
The Star’s coverage of the conference in the days leading up to the actual event stressed that while it would be “difficult,” the resulting “conversation on race” was long overdue and everyone who attended would learn from it and come away with new understanding, especially whites.
This was absurd on its face.
Because far from being “long overdue,” we ‘ve had nothing less than an ongoing conversation on race for the past 50 years in this country. (This week is the 50th anniversary of the release of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”) What else would liberals rather talk about than white racism?
Secondly, the W.P. Conference itself was anything but a ‘conversation’, which implies an exchange of views. It was a monologue, where only one viewpoint was heard. America-or should I say ‘Amerika’, like the placards at protest rallies in the ‘70’s?-is a sick, racist, repressive society, its institutions designed and maintained to oppress people of color, women, the L.G.B.T communities, and working people generally (not to mention the poor and physically handicapped.) According to this ideology, everyday life in this country is so steeped in white privilege (especially white, male privilege), that most of us who benefit from it, i.e. people like me; middle-aged, straight, white men, do not even notice it. To use an overworked metaphor that is ceaselessly invoked by White Privilege theory adherents, it’s like fish not being able to see the water they’re swimming in. Or as a White Privilege sycophant writing for the Star put it:
“There’s an old joke about a scuba diver who passes two fish. ‘The water is fine today,’he says politely before swimming on. The fish exchange a confused glance and one asks the other, ‘What’s water?'”
There is no such “joke,” let alone an “old” (i.e. familiar) one. The anecdote was manufactured to serve as a set-up for a labored metaphor. The more frightening, as opposed to annoying, aspect of this is the message it sends. Just because you don’t see any evidence of systemic racism, don’t think it isn’t there. Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?
All the speakers at the conference were selected to reiterate this same message, over and over again. Thus I find it hard to believe that anyone looked like they were made uncomfortable in any way by this message or found listening to this one sided harangue difficult. What, after all, is “difficult” about listening to points of view you are in full agreement with?
Who is “uncomfortable” complaining how unfairly they’ve been treated or venting their personal grievances towards those who oppress them? Nobody, unless human nature has changed while I wasn’t looking.
The reason I say that is because of Friday afternoon the attendees at the W.P. Conference looked to be roughly 50% African American, 10% Hispanic, 10% Middle Eastern, 10 % Asian and 20% Caucasian. Virtually all were young, i.e. in their 20’s and 30’s. Many seemed to be gay or lesbian as evidenced by the t-shirts and buttons they were wearing. There were very few white, middle-aged males like yours truly and the handful who did attend were sporting the grey pony tail and Birkenstocks look of left-wing academics. In short, of the two thousand plus people in attendance, all but one had been self-selected to be totally accepting of the conference’s message. If no one was there to learn anything or to hear anything that they hadn’t head many times before, what were they there for? Remember this was a national conference, so airfare, meals and lodging, plus the registration fee could easily come to fifteen hundred dollars if you came from, say, Chicago, or more if you came from the east or west coasts.
At one level, at least, it was about psychic income. I think Professor Codevilla said it best in his essay on political correctness:
“The imposition of P.C. has no logical end because feeling better about one’s self by confessing other peoples’ sins, humiliating them, is an addictive pleasure, the appetite for which grows with each satisfaction.”
How specifically did the conference involve confessing “other peoples’” sins? Here are a few of the handouts, available at booths at the conference:
“I am my White Ancestors: Claiming the Legacy of Oppression.” A multi-disciplinary installation of thirteen life-size photographic self-portraits and audio narratives that explore European-American heritage, the artist’s family, and their role in the history of race, class, colonization, and genocide.
“In Whose Honor?” A graphic and eloquent examination of racism in sports and so called ‘higher education.’ An award winning documentary that takes a critical look at the use of American Indians as mascots and nicknames in sports.
“Road to Racial Justice” A free educational board game, for class rooms, staff trainings, community groups, and family game nights. Racism and white privilege are addressed through critical thinking, social analysis, and team-based discussion.
“Intersectionality and Student Outcomes.” Sharpening the struggle against racism, sexism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, nationalism, and linguistic, religious, and geographical discrimination in teaching and learning. (I assume ‘heterosexism’ means engaging in hetero-normative behavior but I just wanted to make sure!)
“Living In The Shadow of the Cross.” Understanding and resisting the power and privilege of Christian Hegemony. The book “exposes how Christian Hegemony punishes the poor, destroys the environment and contributes to our seemingly endless war on terror.” This landmark work emphasizes the power of people to build strong movements for resistance.
Which brings me to my next point! Professor Codevilla says, “The point of P.C. is not and never has been about any of the items it imposes but about the imposition itself.” Recall ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’? Celebrated at the time as a way for gay people to serve their country without anyone having any basis to complain it disrupts the military, it soon became the epitome of homophobia and an excuse to keep ROTC and military recruiters off college campuses. Within three days of the Obergefell decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, legalizing gay marriages, NPR and other left-wing outlets began lobbying hard for the expansion of the rights of the transgendered. At the same time, the Left’s reaction to the ruling was to a large extent gloating and taunting towards those with traditional views on marriage. It’s not the specific items on the P.C. agenda (gay marriage, transgendered bathrooms) but the imposition itself that is the source of satisfaction, in addition to the addictive pleasure of confessing other people’s sins for them.
The other Orwellian element at work in the White Privilege movement is the intimidation and coercion of those who might dissent from political correctness. While I never actually entered the W.P.C. events at the Marriot, I was angrily accosted twice by event organizers for the offense of walking through corridors outside the ballroom and meeting rooms where those events were taking place. Both times the event staff demanded to know what my name was and what I was doing there. The first person who did was none other than Eddie Moore, Jr., a street hustler turned academic, who started this scam masquerading as scholarship eighteen years ago. (Think of him as a farm team Cornel West.) Then he was an assistant dean at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. He’s now full time as head of the W.P.C. sponsor, the Privilege Institute. The second was a woman named Jackie who brusquely accosted me AS I WAS LEAVING THE HOTEL.
I explained that I was willing to sign up as a registered participant and purchase the all-important badge but had balked when told I had to pay the full weekend fee of $400, and not just the $175.00 one day pass as advertised. I also don’t see why simply passing through the Marriott lobby required my registering if I didn’t take part in any conference events.
I think I was stopped because of my age, ethnicity, and dress. I appear to be what I am, i.e. a sixty-four year old lawyer of Northern European descent. For a group that is supposed to cherish “inclusion” and to abhor racial profiling and ageism, they were not very welcoming. This suspicion towards outsiders and non-believers is actually very consistent with the conference’s long standing policy of not allowing press interviews with W.P.C. participants or the tape recording of conference proceedings. That noone is allowed in to make any record of what actually goes on is supposedly because conference organizers wanted participants to feel free to express their feelings fully and candidly about their encounters with white privilege. That could have been achieved by forbidding press in the seminar and discussion groups. However, there would be no reason to ban people from recording public remarks by event speakers. This is especially true if the aim was to get the Conference’s message out to a broader audience.
The real motive, of course, is to prevent anyone but the enlightened from hearing the actual views of the White Privilege movement. Again, Professor Codevilla offers insight into the P.C. mind set: “They reason that American’s socio-political order is founded on racism, patriarchy, genocidal imperialism, as well as economic exploitation.” This bleak and unremittingly hostile portrayal of our country’s heritage is one that the conference’s organizers and sponsors know will not win them many converts. That is why the way must first be prepared by indoctrinating the young in schools and universities. That is why the overwhelming majority of those in attendance were students and educators (i.e. teachers and administrators).
This is what more than one observer has called the “Long March through the Institutions”,a Maoist long term plan to coopt society’s cultural elite and opinion makers. What is their strategic goal once this step is taken?
Again , Codevilla summarizes it best: “the joint pursuit of racial justice, gender justice, economic justice, and anti-imperialism.” Here is where the whole project breaks down, however.
The conference organizer, Mr. Brooks, insisted (in an interview in the Star) that it wasn’t meant to be a “feel good, Kumbaya moment.” This was, he said, about ACTION! What “action”? For a program with some fifty different “workshops”, “caucuses”, and “institutes,” there were no specific policy recommendations, except for a generalized call for the redistribution of money and power from white people to black. How this was to be accomplished was never spelled out. The closest thing to a solution was speaker Michael Eric Dyson’s call for white people to set up I.R.A.s (that would be “Individual Reparations Accounts”). So there is no need for you to wait for government to act-start sending him money now!
Perhaps, despite the grandiose rhetoric of the conference organizers or sponsors, they actually have a much more limited tactical aim.
Initially, there was a projected number of attendees at this year’s conference of 1,000, which was upped to 2000, and finally 2,500. If the last number was correct the registration fees alone could have brought close to a million dollars. As the trade show for the Black Grievance Industry, there were also a number of exhibitors willing to pay good money to market their products. The twenty-fine plus exhibitors booths were selling everything from books and tapes, to study abroad programs, to sweaters, t-shirts, and “hoodies” (The Trayvon Martin line of ‘active’ wear?) Most of the items bore slogans celebrating blackness (women’s clothes with ‘Hot, Sweet, Chocolate’ slogans) and denigrating whiteness (sporting the message ‘Raising Better White People’). For a group dedicated to a fierce critique of capitalism, they didn’t pass up many marketing opportunities. Not that they needed the extra money! After all, you the taxpayers were already picking up the tab through sponsorship by public schools and colleges, as well as tax exempt organizations.
As nauseating as the whole spectacle was, I left heartened by a realization that came to me as I was brusquely escorted off the premises. Just three months earlier the ideological and demographic antithesis of the W.P.C. took place a hundred yards away. I’m speaking, of course, of the Kansas City Boat & Travel Show. A happy event, dedicated to fishing and boating, I attended it as a child and later took my own children. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see that “Twiggy” the water-skiing squirrel was still a feature of the show.
I can say with near certainty that I am the only person in recorded human history to have attended the White Privilege Conference AND the Kansas City Boat & Travel show. I note the national WPC had 2,000 plus people in attendance; the local Boat show had 20,000 plus people in attendance. I know now what Rudyard Kipling meant when he said, “The third class carriages will be the saviors of us all!”