But the summer’s events show that the defense of unthreatened freedoms counts for less than an apparently widespread white wish to make more out of their difficulties than other people. This is no longer a culture war, a revolt of stoics against the “culture of complaint,” but something deeper and older that precedes the identity politics movements it aims to subvert. Forty-two years after the Civil Rights Act, white people who still think of themselves predominantly as “white people” want to air their grievances with the aid of a social movement. One half of what passes for American two-party discourse calls now for another rebirth of a nation: the Caucasian States of America, a postmodern ethno-nationalist republic.…But it’s futile to insist on nuances of history and law when we’re speaking the language of “offense.” The mythical heartland Sarah Palin speaks from, or for, is full of these voiceless, downtrodden plain folk who are constantly being offended, for whom there is no end to the offenses, real or imagined, perpetrated against them: the Mexican immigrant speaking his native tongue, the Muslim at his prayers, the black man drinking from a public water fountain (oh wait, that one’s not offensive anymore . . .). One of the more charming stories in Budiansky’s history of Reconstruction concerns a Southern gentleman who wanted a freed slave whipped because he had the temerity to wish him “good morning” without being spoken to first. These offended people see with such dreadful clarity things that don’t exist, and so remake reality to suit their grievances.…While not even Sarah Palin would suggest that we bring back slavery, the ferocity of the right-wing opposition to the disappointingly moderate technocratic policies of this Democratic administration cannot be explained in merely strategic legislative or electoral terms. It’s about more than winning elections for people like Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who, as part of a plan to intimidate undocumented immigrants, recently called for the repeal of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to former slaves; it’s about rewriting American history as the travails of a trod-upon Caucasian nation.
Right on cue, here comes Victor Davis Handjob with an extended pout on the topic of persecution, i.e., having to suffer the indignity of being challenged on one’s opinions, advising people on “what to keep quiet about.” Given that I would happily part with a kidney, a lung, and a testicle if only the people I personally know who share his opinions could grant me a few moments of blessed silence each day, rather than thundering indignantly and incessantly like Archie Bunker somehow magically transported atop Mount Sinai, I have to suspect that Vic is employing sarcasm here. Yes, I’m afraid so. I fear he doesn’t actually want his fellows to remain silent at all, but rather to redouble their efforts to pummel their opponents into submission with righteously angry sound waves, invigorated by the tonic of Pseudo-Martyr® energy drinks.
Seriously, though, I’ve never known people who have it so good, yet are so firmly convinced that the entire world is crumbling around them. I would actually welcome the impending Republican midterm victories if I didn’t already know from my experience of the first eight years of this decade that being in control doesn’t make them any less prone to whining about their victimhood; it just makes them have to stretch harder to invent examples, with the additional effort apparently serving to make them even more cantankerous.