At National Review, Alvin S. Felzenberg calls Scott Brown's victory a "Vindication of the Cambridge Cop," referencing the incident last year in which Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested by Cambridge Police Officer James Crowley for "breaking into" his own home:
Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts is more than just a defeat for President Obama and the priorities his administration has established during his first year in office. It is an outright rejection of the "identity" politics he and his party have championed for more than a generation.
A friend of mine put it best when he asked me when the Democratic party ceased voicing the concerns of ordinary Americans, working-class Americans, ethnic voters, and people trying not just to make ends meet, but to actually get ahead? I told him 1972. That was the year the Democrats nominated George McGovern. They treated themselves to one heck of a convention at which group after group championed its "rights" and voiced its "grievances."
So Felzberg, says, Brown's victory was a win for the white working class and a loss for "identity politics," which continues the proud conservative tradition of pretending white identity politics don't exist while invoking them in as explicit terms as possible. Note how, merely a few years after the end of Jim Crow, Felzberg finds the idea that black people would have to fight for their rights or that they might have "grievances" after spending most of the century as second-class citizens preposterous. This guy is a historian.
This is how Felzberg sees the story between Gates and Crowley playing out:
A white Cambridge police officer, having been praised for his work to promote diversity and tolerance, residing in a modest home, becomes a nationally known figure, courtesy of the president of the United States. Meanwhile, the African-American professor, reported to own more than one European-made luxury car, as well as a summer home in Martha's Vineyard, talks of pending book deals and PBS documentaries about the case. The endless "dialogue" ended in a celebrated "beer summit," with the officer carefully "muzzled" by his union handlers.
I'm really not sure how to respond to this because I think it speaks for itself. Felzberg thinks there's something outrageous about Gates, an "African-American professor," owning "more than one European-made luxury car," while a white guy like Crowley has to work for a living.
For Felzberg, Obama's presidency is an ongoing symbol of the inversion of the correct social order, where white people have political power and black people know their place. This is the ugly subtext of Peggy Noonan and Mike Barnicle swooning that Brown "looks like an American," as though "American" meant "white." Obama's presidency is something to be "corrected."
The undercurrent of white triumphalism simmering just below the surface on some segments of the right has to be -- along with potential Democratic capitulation on the health care bill -- among the most irritating parts of the Massachusetts aftermath.
-- A. Serwer
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