Thursday, October 27, 2011
The White Aborigines of the Post-Racial Left
If you thought that political correctness was insane in the United States, take a long plane trip over to Melbourne, Australia, where Andrew Bolt, a columnist at the Herald Sun, has been sanctioned by a judge of the Federal Court of Australia for "insulting, humiliating and offending" that group known
as "fair-skinned Aboriginal people".
Who might you wonder are these "fair-skinned Aboriginal people"? They are said to come from the Hiberian isle, the plains of Alba, the cities of Albion, the Teutonic forests and even the Hebraic tribes. They boast many fascinating arts and crafts, such as writing dissertations on the structural thematics of metaphor in aboriginal music and receiving aboriginal scholarships to compensate for all the suffering inflicted upon them by the European settlers. The Federal Court decision creates a new protected class of people, "fair-skinned aboriginals", which is to say white people pretending to be black people are now protected by anti-discrimination laws from pesky newspaper columnists pointing out that they happen to have blond hair, German last names and no amount of kitschy native clothing and beads will change that.
As the decision put it: "The members of the group referred to are fair skinned Aboriginal persons who, by a combination of descent, self-identification and communal recognition are, and are recognised as, Aboriginal persons." Which is a complex way of saying, "aim for the stars, push all the limits and if you want to be an Aborigine, there's nothing stopping you so long as you can claim a great-grandsire or dam who might have been aboriginal or just really tan."
None of this foolishness would matter much in a society where people are judged by the content of their character, not by how many papers they can write on the cultural appropriation of the didgeridoo, but it matters quite a bit when society and government are set up to pay off a debt of guilty to a bunch of people because they were the first bunch of settlers, and they were the second bunch of settlers, and then members from the second bunch of settlers show up demanding to be cut in because even though they need to slather themselves in suntan lotion at the beach, they have decided to identify themselves as aborigines.
It's an even bigger problem when anti-discrimination laws are wielded by the melanin challenged tribe to suppress free speech and silence anyone who points this out.
The entire discussion is a dangerous one because it shows the incentivization of victimhood. If members of the "privileged majority" choose to pass themselves off as members of the "oppressed minority", then doesn't that imply the roles have been reversed?
There were plenty of biracial people who tried to pass themselves off as white in the 19th and early 20th centuries, because there was an advantage to doing so. These days they usually go the other way and it's not an unreasonable thing to do. Why not pick the identity that offers special advantages over the one that offers guilt.
The aboriginal absurdity has its counterpart in the States where mass immigration after the Civil War brought huge numbers of immigrants of all races who are stuck in a system of guilt that they had nothing to do with. The final surreal twist in the tale was when the country elected a man whose only American ancestors were white and who had no African-American roots whatsoever in order to atone for its racial history.
Aboriginal issues play much less of a role in the United States, where few people really ask how many of the professional Indians are actually Indians, until like Ward Churchill, they become a little too annoying.
Churchill incidentally has variously claimed to be one-eighth Creek and one-sixteenth Cherokee, one-sixteenth Creek and Cherokee and three-sixteenths Cherokee. It's easy to tell you have a racial problem when you need a scientific calculator to figure out your own racial identity.
While a Rocky Mountain News investigation found no evidence of Indian ancestors and no known tribe, besides the Ivory Towarian people has agreed to claim him for their own, to which the Chancellor of Colorado University, which gave him tenure as a "special opportunity position", said that "it has always been university policy that a person's race or ethnicity is self-proving."
Anyone who insists loudly enough that they are an Indian, wears their hair in braids and protests against Columbus Day is now an Indian. Or an Aborigine. Or any damn thing they want to be.
Jews have their own aborigines, like Rachel Cowan, one of the Rabbis for Hamas and a Unitarian from Wellesley. But while you can convert to Judaism, you cannot convert to "Aboriginalism" or "Cherokeeism", that is unless you buy some beads, wear your hair slicked back and accuse as many people of racism as possible.
The idea of racial purity was a dead letter in Western society until the left brought it back to life by granting special privileges on a racial basis. Combine that with a post-racial society where no one wants to define what race is and interracial marriage isn't unusual, and you come away with a bizarre
cocktail of "fair-skinned aborigines" who insist on privileges through self-identification with a race.
If the legacy of racial prejudice is immutable because it is racial, and must be offset with special benefits, then the "fair-skinned aborigine" receives the best of both worlds, gaining the privileges of both races. Free to be white and black when convenient, a prism whose light particles are resolved in a Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Political Correctness. They are of every race and no race at all.
Martin Luther King did not have a dream that everyone who wants to be black, can claim to be black, just like Bill Clinton, who was our first president of colorless color because he played the sax and felt the pain of black people. Then he became our former racist president once his wife was running against a man who had a better claim on being black because he was anywhere between one half and one quarter black. At this rate you need to start doing quadratic equations to figure out if we've reached the arc of social justice.
The Clinton experience should be instructive to fair-skinned aborigines everywhere. The left has a very bad habit of hijacking other people's identities and cultures for their own purpose, but those people get tired of it sooner or later. Just ask all the former fair-skinned members of the NAACP. Silencing a fellow white columnist using racial discrimination laws isn't too difficult, but silencing the actual aborigines who want blackfella, not whitefella, representation won't be nearly as easy.
Racial and ethnic identity is most meaningful when it is internal and least meaningful when it is external. Like all identities its essence is in the transmission to those who carry it forward. But modern society insists on the deconstruction of all identities as arbitrary constructs and the external assertion of those random arbitrary identities that are internally inconsistent.
Identity is no longer familiar, it is one more letter in a Scrabble bag that you can assemble into any word you like. Identifying with victim cultures is encouraged, identifying with privileged cultures is discouraged. There are no objective rules to any of it-- the assertion alone is all that is needed.
Post-racial identity says that Herman Cain is not a real black man, but Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are. If an aboriginal came forward to support Bolt's columns, then he would be considered less "aboriginal" than the "fair-skinned aborigines". If identity depends on external assertion, then politically correct activism is all that it takes to become a member of any race.
Accordingly leftists are the only true people of color, because they identify with the oppression of every race, and rightists are the only true whites, because they are all privileged rich people driving limos and flying corporate jets to pollution conferences while dropping cigars on native burial grounds.
If this sounds at all fanciful, consider that I receive several emails every week insisting that I write in contradiction to Jewish values, even though they can only articulate and practice these "values" in the terminology of the left and through the organizations of the left. But if you spend enough time wearing your hair in braids and chanting that Columbus is a mass murderer, then you are an Indian even if your genetic line looks a lot like General Custer's. And if you spend enough time insisting that the left's program represents the essence of Jewish values, then that assertion become identity.
In a postmodern world where truth is irrelevant and facts are worthless, all arguments are personal arguments.Your identity is your ticket to ride. All else is privilege. The fair-skinned aborigine steps forward, drops the black ticket in the slot, smirks smugly and takes the roller coaster all the way to the top.
Bolt's article which got him into trouble was headlined, "White is the New Black", but that's not strictly accurate. "Left is the New Black" would have been more to the point. The left has politicized racial identity by equating race with political affiliation, and now it's doing away with race entirely.
You don't need to be black to be "black". You just gotta be left.