Freud noted that human beings like to "project" their own undesirable feelings onto others. The wisdom of that observation became clearer than ever last week as a mounting hysteria infected the elites of the English-speaking world, from Arizona to Britain to Harvard.
The rage of the privileged classes was on full display as they projected onto citizens their own vices: ignorance, resentment, and irrational anger.
For example, veteran New York Times columnist Frank Rich's May 1 op-ed included a full helping of the standard media code words used to denote that voters aren't appropriately obeying their rightful masters: "angry," "virus," "hysteria," "vicious," "bigoted," "apoplexy," "slimed," "snarling," "notorious," "incendiary," "rage" and so forth and so on.
Bizarre as it may seem, the potential Supreme Court nominee publicly condemned a private message to a few acquaintances written six months ago—even though it had only been dug up and leaked to the Black Law Students Association by a romantic rival in a petty catfight!
In other words, citizens are winning the debates, so elites would rather demonize than discuss.
Yet, as comical as the last week has been, the power of elites to shut down freedom of speech, to ostracize, to impose dumb dogmas as loyalty tests, must never be underestimated.
Arizona's SB1070 and immigration: by the end of a tumultuous week, Democratic Party leaders were in disarray as their efforts to turn the illegal immigration controversy into a racial struggle between Hispanics and whites had badly backfired.
The Democrats have long tried to goad Latino voters into viewing enforcement of the laws as a racial insult. But there has never been overwhelming evidence that the average Hispanic-American citizen really shares the Latino Democratic elites' obsession with opening the border.
For example, in 2006 Arizona voters passed—over the usual bipartisan opposition of the states' elites—Proposition 200, which required individuals to furnish proof of citizenship when applying for benefits or to vote. Latinos gave it 47 percent support. That's far more than you would expect from elite assumptions that Hispanic voters' race makes them mindlessly biased in favor of illegal immigration.
Back in the spring of 2006, pundits predicted that after the massive marches by illegal aliens that Hispanics would rush to the ballot box in November. Yet, according to the Census Bureau survey, the Hispanic share of the vote fell—from 6.0 percent in 2004 to 5.9 percent in 2006.
The simple reality, of course, is that illegal aliens aren't supposed to vote, while Hispanic-American citizens have sensibly ambivalent views about their impact on America.
More importantly, egging on a Hispanic v. white racial struggle is a losing proposition for the Democrats at the ballot box in 2010 because there are still more white voters.
The plan is to change all that. But it can't happen fast.
But these obvious truths were lost on the Democrats because they have inflicted, as they say, "epistemic closure" upon themselves by denouncing all opponents of illegal immigration as evil racists. Hence they have shot themselves in the foot in 2010.
Last Thursday, President Barack Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced contradictory plans for immigration legislation. According to an AP article on late Thursday evening, "Obama Takes Immigration Reform Off Agenda:"
"With that move, the president calculated that an immigration bill would not prove as costly to his party two years from now, when he seeks re-election, than it would today …"
Of course, when the unemployment rate in California is 12.5 percent, amnesty's not looking so hot right now. But the long term political trend is against amnesty too. So Obama is probably blowing smoke when he claims that he'll get around to it when he's running for re-election.
In contrast to Obama, earlier that day Reid had outlined the Senate Democrats' proposed comprehensive immigration reform.
This bill is still a scam, but the winds are blowing in the right direction. The Washington Post headlined Spencer S. Hsu's article on Sunday, May 2: Senate Democrats' plan highlights nation's shift to the right on immigration. Hsu pointed out:
"The Democrats' shift underscores how, in the struggle between enforcement advocates and legalization backers, the former seem to be gaining, experts said."
The bill actually contains a few good ideas that could be salvaged in a 2011 enforcement-only bill. For example, Reid concedes that we finally must upgrade the Social Security card, which is pathetically easy to counterfeit. For decades, that cheap, flimsy piece of paper has served as tangible evidence to illegal aliens that the powers that be want them to forge it to get American jobs.
So: what are the top Democrats up to?
I don't know. Do they?
The Democrats' botched tactics stems from their not actually having thought much about immigration, other than to congratulate themselves for being ever so much more sophisticated and tolerant than the American public—those hate-filled racists.
Democrats' certainly don't know much about illegal aliens. And they don't want to learn.
To top off the week, on Saturday, May 1, 2010, the vast mobs of illegal aliens whom the press was counting on to turn out for angry May Day rallies to intimidate voters … mostly didn't show up. The Los Angeles Times wrote:
LAPD estimate crowd at immigrant rights rally is about half of what was expected [Updated]
"Police had anticipated a larger crowd because of the controversy surrounding the recent passage of a tough immigration law in Arizona that allows police to check the legal status of people they believe are in the state illegally."
About 50,000 apparently were there. That's a big number, but it's only roughly one-tenth as many illegals as marched in LA as in 2006.
Who knows? Democratic elites sure don't. The Hispanics spokesmen who are constantly being interviewed in the English-language press as the self-proclaimed leaders of illegal aliens really aren't. They are just claiming to lead the vast numbers of illegals in order to get themselves cushy jobs advising clueless Anglo elites.
Who are the illegals' real leaders?
To the extent that anybody organizes them, it appears to be primarily Spanish-language radio disk jockeys. Funny DJs got them to turn out in 2006. Apparently, it didn't happen in 2010.
Needless to say, having vast throngs of foreigners march through our cities waving Mexican flags on May Day, the day when the Soviet Politburo used to review a parade of nuclear missiles aimed at America was never exactly a political masterstroke. Those marches helped kill the Bush-Kennedy-McCain amnesties of 2007 and 2008.
Britain, Brown and "Bigotry": the Labour Prime Minister was outraged that a mere voter had asked him about the unspeakable: his immigration policy. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown was the second-most powerful member of the Labour cabinet that secretly boosted immigration to Britain a decade ago in order to elect a new people. Former Downing Street speechwriter Andrew Neather admitted in 2009:
"Earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural. I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended—even if this wasn't its main purpose—to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date."[Labour let in migrants 'to engineer multicultural UK', Daily Mail, October 24, 2009]
In public, though, Labour elites were reticent about what they were planning in order to keep their "core working class vote" from finding out about it.
Elites like it best when nobody gets to vote, when nobody thinks for themselves.
Massachusetts, Minow, And Malice:
Thus, the strange tale out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to numerous rumors, a young woman at Harvard Law School (who, curiously, is remaining nameless) got into a catfight over some guy with another young lady law student, Stephanie Grace. So Ms. Nameless dug up out of her email archives a six-month-old private email from her rival, Grace, discussing the race and IQ controversy with an above-average level of sophistication and open-mindedness. The jealous girl then leaked the Grace's email to the Black Law Students Association, who forwarded it nationally to set off the usual Two Minutes Hate.
A huge number of bystanders on the Internet immediately started auditioning for the Junior Varsity Thought Police, putting the boot in on the suspicion that Grace might be a Double-Plus Ungood Crimethinker!
Clearly, in a world increasingly run on text communications that are permanently archived, old-fashioned values like privacy and intellectual honesty are in mortal danger. In the old days, when people tended to have conversations rather than exchange messages that are automatically stored, this absurd panic over some completely obscure person's doubts about the conventional wisdom would never have gotten off the ground.
We are headed for a stultified world of ideological conformism.
Most egregiously, the Dean of Harvard Law, Martha Minow, [Email her] then put her nose in to denounce—the victim. She wrote:
"I am writing this morning to address an email message in which one of our students suggested that black people are genetically inferior to white people."
The Dean of Harvard Law ought to be able to read English, but she flagrantly mischaracterized her own student's private email, which in fact ended:
"I am merely not 100% convinced that this is the case.
Please don't pull a Larry Summers on me."
Minow burbled on:
"This sad and unfortunate incident prompts both reflection and reassertion of important community principles and ideals. We seek to encourage freedom of expression, but freedom of speech should be accompanied by responsibility. This is a community dedicated to intellectual pursuit and social justice. …
As news of the email emerged yesterday, I met with leaders of our Black Law Students Association [Email them]to discuss how to address the hurt that this has brought to this community. … The particular comment in question unfortunately resonates with old and hurtful misconceptions. As an educational institution, we are especially dedicated to exposing to the light of inquiry false views about individuals or groups. "
So much for Harvard's motto: Veritas.
As a commenter on the Volokh Conspiracy blog who aptly calls himself "Cynical" explained:
"The real threat is to not just to the 'social justice' worldview, but to the entire affirmative-action, diversity and racial reparations industry. If individuals are judged for their deeds and abilities instead of their skin color, Griggs goes away along with the jobs of a great many compliance officers. Worse, the rampant credentialism which has fed the expansion of colleges and universities as substitutes for pre-employment aptitude tests would fall by the wayside, and that whole racket would start to collapse as well. You can see how true color-blindness threatens to break the rice bowls of many influential people, and they'll do almost anything to prevent it."
Martha Minow is on Obama's short list for a Supreme Court nomination. She has been Obama's friend since the 1980s. In David Remnick's hagiography The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, the Chicago political consultant Don Rose describes on p. 225 her crucial role in the launch of Obama's political career:
"First, [Obama] comes to Chicago with a reference from Newton Minow's daughter, Martha. Then Newt introduces him to a circle of high-class liberal lawyers. ... There are also liberal, elite funders and agency heads: Bettylu Saltzman was also part of the Minow grouping and she has lots of friends."
For the sake of amusement, here are the titles of some books Dean Minow has authored or edited: Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference; Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law and Repair; Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies; Not Only for Myself: Identity, Politics and Law, and Making All the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law.
Jim Kalb writes:
"I knew the Dean slightly when she was in law school and she struck me as a very nice and very well-brought-up young lady. I think a lot of her response in this case was shock and incomprehension that someone would say something that's obviously not what one says or even admits thinking. She brings a woman's touch to the position she holds."
Indeed, in all the parsing of the victim's email to show she had it coming to her for violating reigning norms, there's a distinct whiff of Junior High School. It's reminiscent of how the In Clique of popular girls dissects the clothes of a newcomer to decide whether they'll admit her to the club or destroy her with gossip.
Somebody should ask the President's press secretary what Obama thinks of his old pal's attempt to silence dissent by misstating the content of a private email that only became public due to petty vengeance in order ruin the career of one of her students.
After all, the President is much closer to the Dean of his old law school than he was to Professor Henry Louis Gates. And we all remember how much fun that turned out to be.
Let's be frank about what this ridiculous Harvard Law School brouhaha is all about. It's about whether you have internalized the elite class dogmas sufficiently to be allowed into the elite. The more unbelievable the dogma, the better it serves for demonstrating your class loyalty. The more you rat out others for heresy, the more you prove your fealty.
What can be done about the self-serving stupidity of our elites?
There will always be elites, and any movement that doesn't have any is doomed. So we have to do something about the ones we are stuck with now.
The Sailer Solution:
Scoff at them.
Make fun of them.
Point out their moral and intellectual failings at every opportunity.
That way, when a Martha Minow declaims, Americans will roll their eyes and fail to stifle their giggles.
[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]