Why do our well-meaning elites so often worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority? The dream of universal health coverage trumped the nightmare of millions of lives disrupted by the implementation of it. Noble lies, with emphatics like “Period!” were necessary to sell something that would hurt precisely those who were told that this was going to be good for them. A myriad of green mandates has led to California’s having the highest-priced gasoline and electricity in the continental United States, a fact that delights utopians in San Francisco and in the long run might help the rest of us, but right now ensures that the poor of the state’s vast, hot interior can scarcely afford to cool their homes or drive to work. Fresno on August 1, after all, is a bit warmer than Berkeley or Menlo Park.
In a word, liberal ideology so often proves more important than people. Noble theories about saving humanity offer exemption from worry about the immediate consequences for individual humans. In a personal sense, those who embrace progressive ideas expect to be excused from the ramifications of their schemes. For the elite who send their kids to prep schools and private academies, public charter schools for the poor are bad, given that they undermine the dream of progressive, union-run education that has turned into a nightmare for those forced to enroll in it.
Recently, pundit Margaret Carlson wrote an op-ed lamenting the fall of Lois Lerner, as if her decline were due to a McCarthyesque hit. But Lerner staged her own dishonest disclosure of impropriety. She set up a phony, preplanned question that might offer her a platform to contextualize her unethical behavior. Despite her protestations that the IRS’s violations all emanated from a rogue office in Ohio, Lerner or her colleagues were in contact with Democratic enablers at the House Oversight Committee and the Department of Justice to find ways to thwart conservative tax-exempt organizations before the 2012 election.
Lerner has sought to obfuscate her improper role at the IRS, pled the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, and done a great deal of damage to the American notion that government agencies, especially in election years, must remain impartial. It is hard to think of anything that she has testified about that has proved accurate. In addition, Lerner caused hundreds of legitimate members of tax-exempt organizations misery by violating the rules of her own agency. In short, there is no scandal victim less sympathetic than the now-well-retired Lois Lerner, even if the damage she did to innocent others does not register on the liberal scale of sympathy. Apparently, since her politics of wishing to shut down right-wing groups is correct, her morality need not be. Had Carlson been the director of a liberal green group, and had it been denied tax-exempt status by a high-ranking conservative IRS bureaucrat right before the reelection of George W. Bush, and had that functionary been exposed as an ideologue who harmed the reputation of the IRS and took the Fifth Amendment, I doubt that Carlson would now be writing to express worry over his mounting legal fees.
Recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren was quoted to the effect that she was upset when critics pounced on her erroneous claim that she was Native American and asserted that she had used that supposed background to enhance her career. Oddly, Warren thought her attackers were off base while she was stoically above the fray. Indeed, she doubled down with the absurd postmodern claim, “I never questioned my family’s stories or asked my parents for proof or documentation. What kid would? . . . Knowing who you are is one thing, and proving who you are is another.”
Then and now, Warren has never adduced any proof that she is Native American nor made any serious attempt to refute her critics. Instead, she continues to rely on family folk tradition, as she once pointed to her high cheekbones and offered Native American recipes to prove her case.
But aside from illustrating how bankrupt the identity-politics industry has become, this case shows how little Warren seems to worry about those who might have competed with her for jobs and who did not, as she did, fabricate an affirmative-actionable Native American identity.
Nor does she seem concerned about the nihilism of her act, in the sense that, if all so-called whites did as Warren did, and used unproven family folk traditions of having a Latino, a Native American, or an African American ancestor to seek special minority status, the present system of race-based preferences would collapse. Aside from her personal angst, Warren apparently cares little that no one since Ward Churchill has done more to discredit the idea of ethnic identification warranting special consideration.
Thomas Friedman recently wrote of the upside to Vladimir Putin’s possible radical cutoff of natural gas to the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe. Friedman nearly rejoices that Putin has inadvertently helped the green cause. Supposedly, once Putin’s erstwhile gas buyers grasp that Russia proves an unreliable supplier, they will then be forced to redouble their efforts at wind, solar, and renewable energy. Thus, we will all be better off. “If I’m actually rooting for Putin to go ahead and shut off the gas,” Friedman asks, “does that make me a bad guy?”
I am afraid it does. At least in the here and now.