David Brooks, who receives little love from readers of the New York Times these days, posits why the extreme left of the Democratic Party is comprised of mostly educated whites.
One of the results is that, as my colleague Thomas B. Edsall put it this week, there are now three Democratic Parties. The most moderate faction is the most nonwhite and focuses on pocketbook issues like jobs and taxes. The most left-wing segment is the most populated by whites. It focuses on issues like abortion, global warming, immigration and race and gender equity.
To say that white educated Democrats have moved left is true, but it’s not the essential truth. The bigger truth is that this segment is now more likely to see politics through a racial lens. Racial equity has become the prism through which many in this group see a range of other issues.
The most curious aspect is that the “most moderate faction is the most nonwhite.” Since Brooks focuses on the most extreme, the comments to his column largely focus on rationalizing why they are so much more woke than others, mostly arguing that their exposure in college and travels to people of color has awakened them to the truth of race being a social construct.
Brooks raises some paradoxes causes by this racial segregation.
As many researchers have pointed out, white progressives are now farther left on immigration and race and diversity issues than the typical Hispanic or African-American voter.
Second, two of the great marks of privilege in our society are skin color and education levels, and yet in the Democratic Party it’s the highly educated whites who express the greatest alienation with the system that benefits them so directly.
Third, the progressive framework is egalitarian, but the shift has opened up wider opinion and cultural gaps between this highly educated elite and less educated groups.
Of course, these only exist, no less are paradoxes, to those who haven’t awoken. To the woke, their beliefs are sacred and need not make any sense at all, because they’re true. What’s curiously missed in the never-ending amusement of conflicting realities is that black and Hispanic people would rather have a well-paying job than the “thoughts and prayers” of empathetic allies on twitter.
But Brooks’ focus on the left leaves much off the table, including the deliberate blindness to how racial equity has demanded the woke to remain silent, if not outright ignore, inconvenient facts. This point was stark in twit by Zaid Jilani when video emerged of a Muslim man, who happened to be a civilian employee of the Baltimore Police Department, was surrounded and beaten in what’s being called a “hate crime.”
A Muslim man harassed and assaulted like this in broad daylight in Baltimore, but it won’t make national news unless the assailants wore Maga hats or were rude in a Publix
Have you seen this video on the nightly news? Have you seen this video twitted with outrage about white supremacy or Trump? Have you see this video at all?
CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is rightly outraged by what clearly appears to be a beating of a man based upon his religion. A $32,000 reward has been offered to find the perpetrators.
But the interest in this attack remains insignificant compared to, say, a black woman in Georgia, an elected representative, who claimed, falsely, that a “white” guy who turned out to be of a different hue, told her to go back to where she came from. Now there was some huge outrage. Here, a little, but not much.
As Jilani notes, the problem isn’t so much that nobody cares about a hate crime perpetrated on a Muslim man, but that the perps weren’t the right perps, and in the scheme of wokiosity, the harm done a Muslim is secondary to the color of the perps. If it doesn’t further the narrative, it doesn’t count. Or, to borrow the language of the woke, the perps were “erased” because of the color of their skin.
These three kids, who might have had some particular beef with this Muslim man or might just have beat the guy for his religion, aren’t representatives of their race. They’re representative of themselves. They aren’t the most evil perps ever, but kids who may very likely regret their conduct and come out the other end with the recognition that this was an terrible and wrong thing to do.
Then again, there may be some well-educated white allies who will argue that this wasn’t so much a hate crime or a reflection of criminality, but an act of frustration by oppressed people lashing out against the structures or racism they are forced to endure at the hands of the privileged.
This nonsensical rationalization would work a lot better if the victim of their beat down was a rich white male, who by definition deserves whatever he gets, but when the arguments don’t easily present themselves, they have to make do with whatever they can muster. And if they say it with passion, repeat it with snarky dismissiveness toward the perpetually unworthy and deplorable unwoke, it will be close enough for them to believe it with all their heart.
Brooks’ non-cynical explanation for why highly-educated whites have gone hard left is that they mean well.
The most direct theory is that America is a land of systemic racism. Highly educated white progressives have woken up to this fact and are out in front of other groups. This is, after all, the nation that elected Donald Trump and that puts children in cages at the border.
This doesn’t seem to offer much solace to the Muslim guy who was beaten or even the three black kids who gave it to him, all of whom have to live in their reality on the mean streets. Is it progress to see the world through a lens that can’t accommodate reality? Glorious expositions of critical race theory aren’t going to make the Muslim guy’s pain feel any better, or make the three kids any less violent and end up as Harvard professors.
The woke may believe they’re “out in front” of the rest of us. They’re living in a fantasy world that makes them feel virtuous and special, while the people in this video live in reality. The only way the woke can rationalize the virtue of their ideology is to erase this video. But this is what reality looks like in living color.