The dumbest and most common liberal response to my column is the smirking rejoinder, “Oh sure, and why should we listen to Jonah Goldberg about black life in America.” Or as Eric Boehlert, the chief intern at Media Matters tweeted: “again, because who knows more about being black in America than National Review writers like @jonahNRO?”
The problem with this response is that it’s a non-response. Worse, it’s a dumb non-response. Even worse than that, it’s a damning dumb non-response. Let’s go in order.
The gist from my harshest e-mailers seems to be that I simply have to take Charles Blow and Jesse Jackson as the final word on black America’s wants and needs. Sorry, I don’t recognize that authority. I’m open to arguments from them, sure. At least in the case of Blow, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s honestly expressing his views (It’s much harder to take Jackson in good faith). But I don’t have to find their unpersuasive arguments and assertions persuasive simply because they’re black.
But let’s say that this sort of identity politics nonsense is valid. Does this mean Blow, Jackson and Sharpton can never, ever, speak about the tea parties with any authority? The tea parties aren’t as white as their liberal detractors claim (or as Occupy Wall Street, I gather), but let’s also take those claims seriously. How dare Blow ever write about the motives and concerns of a (allegedly) “white” movement? How dare Sharpton sit there on MSNBC and analyze the views of the Republican candidates, particularly now that Herman Cain is out of the race? What does he know about “white America”?