The Corner

Culture

Alexis Grenell vs. White Women

This New York Times op-ed wasn’t written for me or, it seems, for anyone who doesn’t come to it already believing that right-leaning women, especially the white ones, are “gender traitors.” And I confess that I find some of Grenell’s writing simply incomprehensible, as when she writes that “white women benefit from patriarchy by trading on their whiteness to monopolize resources for mutual gain.” Over what resources do white women supposedly get a monopoly? What do they gain besides this monopoly? How does their getting this monopoly produce a gain for the patriarchy?

Two passages in the op-ed, however, I think I understand, and they are both distortions.

The first passage concerns remarks Kellyanne Conway made at a dinner in 2017.

She suggested that higher birthrates are “how I think we fight these demographic wars moving forward.” The war, of course, is with non-white people. So it seems that white women are expected to support the patriarchy by marrying within their racial group, reproducing whiteness and even minimizing violence against their own bodies.

Grenell is drawing on a previous article she has done on this topic, which helpfully includes a recording of Conway’s passing remark. Conway was joking in a way that both complimented her host for having many children and grandchildren and suggested that conservatives should have large families to win future elections. There’s no evidence at all that she was urging white people to outbreed nonwhites.

Passage number two:

During the 2016 presidential election, did white women really vote with their whiteness in mind? Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, a political scientist at U.C.L.A., recently measured the effect of racial identity on white women’s willingness to support Trump in 2016 and found a positive and statistically significant relationship. So white women who voted for him did so to prop up their whiteness.

The study does not back up this claim. It finds, among other things, that white women were more likely to vote for Trump than nonwhites even after correcting for such factors as party affiliation. It does not claim that “white women” in general had a desire to “prop up their whiteness” that explains this finding. It does not even claim that a significant number of white women had this desire.

I do not envy whoever had to fact-check this op-ed, but I’m afraid that unlucky person fell down on the job.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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