…the celebration of Obama’s blackness by the cultural elite, whether it is done explicitly or implicitly, shows the extent to which race has become an issue of etiquette; how, in a different way to the past, race is still bound up with questions of morality and decency; and most importantly, how having supposedly sophisticated views on race is now, ironically, worn as a badge of superiority over the ‘lower classes’ whose views are markedly less sophisticated.
(…) racism becomes less about the top-down denial of ‘legal rights’ to blacks and more about the ‘moral failure’ on the part of individuals to behave and speak in the correct fashion; this has given rise to what they refer to as an all-powerful ‘Sensitivity Imperative’, the self-policing of one’s speech and behaviour, which can seriously harm interpersonal relations and public debate.
Indeed, in her book Race Experts: How Racial Etiquette, Sensitivity Training, and New Age Therapy Hijacked the Civil Rights Revolution Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn explores the external policing, too – in workplaces, on campus, in public life – of individuals’ attitudes to ‘other races’. Thus, the issue of race has become one of etiquette, of behaving in the acceptable way, of distancing oneself from the ‘moral failure’ of backward attitudes by making a contrived display of elite sophistication in all matters racial. As Smith and O’Connell put it, in recent years we have seen the rise of a ‘race etiquette’ where ‘racially attuned whites’ have developed keen ‘intellectual, moral and linguistic skills for sending appropriate signals of sensitivity’. (…)
In his 1994 book Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History, David R Roediger told the story of a white union leader who in 1907 was accused of ‘conspiring with niggers’ to carry out an illegal strike. The union man said in his defence: ‘You made me work with niggers, eat with niggers, sleep with niggers, drink out of the same water bucket with niggers, and finally got me to the point where if one of them blubbers something about more pay, I say: “Come on nigger, let’s go after the white bastards”.’
It’s not PC; there is no speech etiquette; it would certainly never be published in the Guardian, and would probably be labelled as hate speech today.
But I far prefer that white union man’s solidarity with ‘niggers’ over today’s ostentatious backing of a black man as a way of demonstrating one’s moral superiority over the lower orders.
Which is of course what I’ve been saying here for months on end:
That the Bernie Farbers and Richard Warmans of the world are establishment elitists enforcing their ideas about proper language and behaviour on individuals who are overwhelmingly lower in class.
As someone born and raised in a working class “steel town,” I shrug at the language used at the websites Bernie and Co. delight in shutting down and fining. The “offending” language reveals men and women I recognize from the kitchen tables and front porches of my childhood, matter of factly declaiming on the real or imagined characteristics of the latest wave of immigrants.
Their observations were sometimes foolish, but many were based merely on their personal lived experience. It is simply a fact that my cab driver father was never once called to a Japanese or Hindu home on the last day of the month for a “mardi gras” run — the “keep the meter running” treks when he ferried a welfare bum from bank to liquor store to grocery store to stock up on Cheezies.
However, as we all know, lived experience is not considered valid by our “betters.” Theory is what matters. If real life doesn’t live up to one’s pet theory, then real life must be changed, whether the rest of us think it needs changing or not. This is done in the name of narcissistic, self-serving moral posturing; not a single “victim” is lifted any higher by the establishment’s masturbatory censorship campaign.
And adding insult to injury, the establishment elites use our extorted tax dollars to finance our own mental and verbal castration.