"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Apotheosis of the Liberal Mind ca. 2010

Richard Cohen, columnist for the Washington Post, has a column up that seems to me to be the apotheosis of the liberal mind circa 2010.   His thesis is that Sarah Palin, by criticizing Michelle Obama in her new book for having famously said that her husband's election as President was the first time she had been proud of America, shows herself to be "ignorant" of American history.   In one column Cohen unites, first, America-hating:
It was the government that oppressed blacks, enforcing the laws that imprisoned them and hanged them for crimes grave and trivial, whipped them if they bolted for freedom and, in the Civil War, massacred them if they were captured fighting for the North.
America in Cohen's world -- the world of the Eastern Establishment liberal media elite -- is irredeemably racist, and it's central event is slavery even today.   That Americans fought and died to end slavery is written out of American history -- "the North" appears here as a essentially a separate country, whose moral acts aren't attributed to America. 

Second, Cohen offers up unudulerated hatred for Sarah Palin:

Sarah Palin teases that she might run for president. But she is unqualified - not just in the (let me count the) usual ways, but because she does not know the country. She could not be the president of black America nor of Hispanic America. She knows more about grizzlies than she does about African Americans - and she clearly has more interest in the former than the latter.
Palin here is not just ignorant, she's not just racist -- of course, the liberal mind views anyone who criticizes the Obamas as racist -- but fundamentally immoral, a person who cares more about "grizzlies" than she does about her fellow human beings and fellow Americans who happen to be black or Hispanic.

Third, Cohen demonstrates a willingness to spin wildly on behalf of the Obamas in a way that must be transparent to any independent voter:
Michelle Obama quickly explained herself. She was proud of the turnout in the primaries - so many young people, etc. Evan Thomas, writing perceptively in Newsweek, thought - as I did - that she was saying something else. He dug into her senior thesis at Princeton - "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community" - to find a young woman who felt, or was made to feel, "more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before." This was not a statement of racism. This was a statement of fact.
In Cohen's world, when Michelle Obama said that her husband's election was "the first time in my adult life" that she could be proud of her country, that wasn't an expression of an anti-American sentiment, notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Obama had spent the prior twenty years sitting in the Chicago church of Jeremiah Wright hearing precisely that kind of anti-American thought spewed on a weekly basis.   No, in Cohen's world, we have to buy Michelle Obama's spin that she was just proud of the young people who had turned out to support Barack in the primaries.   And, if we have to dig deeper, we have to credit her conclusion as a black woman who was made "more aware of her 'blackness'" while she was at Princeton.

At Princeton.   Remember:  Michelle Obama went to Princeton, one of the finest undergraduate universities in the world.   She went to Harvard Law School, one of the finest law schools (at least by reputation, if not by the quality of the education) in the nation.   She and her husband were offered jobs by major law firms.   She ultimately obtained a high-paying job as an attorney in the health care field.   Her brother is a highly paid college basketball coach.   Doesn't all that suggest that Michelle Obama's own life exemplifies much that we as Americans should be proud of?   Yet, for the the liberal mind as exemplified in Cohen, the arc of Michelle Obama's life leads to this:
It's appalling that Palin and too many others fail to understand that fact - indeed so many facts of American history. They don't offer the slightest hint that they can appreciate the history of the Obama family and that in Michelle's case, her ancestors were slaves - Jim Robinson of South Carolina, her paternal great-great grandfather, being one. Even after they were freed they were consigned to peonage, second-class citizens, forbidden to vote in much of the South, dissuaded from doing so in some of the North, relegated to separate schools, restaurants, churches, hotels, waiting rooms of train stations, the back of the bus, the other side of the tracks, the mortuary, the cemetery and, if whites could manage it, heaven itself.
Michelle Obama grew up in Chicago, not the South.   In Chicago, where her father was a city employee and Democratic precinct captain.   Do you think he was forbidden to vote in Chicago?   Do you think he was dissuaded from voting?   Do you think Michelle Obama was relegated to separate schools?  Remember: at Princeton.   I mean, really, come on!

Which leads to the final aspect of the liberal mind.  On top of America-hating, Palin-loathing, Obama-loving, the liberal mind adds one final fundamental quality:  it's illogical.   America ca. 2010 does not equal the ante-bellum Confederate South, nor does it equal the Jim Crow South of the 1950s.  The part does not define the whole.  The men who died in the Civil War for the North; the people who came to hear Marian Anderson sing at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939; Branch Rickey, the man who integrated baseball by signing Jackie Robinson in 1947; the Supreme Court Justices who voted 9-0 in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954; the people who marched for Civil Rights in the early 1960s; all of those people were Americans too. 

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