The Corner

Who Really Is the ‘Angry Old White Man’?

What is the catalyst for affluent, mostly white people prominent in the media either charging others with racism or urging that they should be charged with racism — in the manner that a Chris Matthews, Joe Klein, and Lawrence O’Donnell have recently been channeling Joe Biden (“put y’all back in chains”) or Harry Reid (“angry old white men”) in alleging that opposing Obama in 2012 is tantamount to racism. Usually the charge has no factual basis other than there are supposed to be certain coded words like welfare, golf, Chicago, cool, etc. that supposedly imply bigotry.

The accusers are 1-percenters. They mostly live lives (e.g., where they live, how much they make, where their children go to school, where they vacation, etc.) indistinguishable from the conservative grandees that they charge with insensitive elitism — and worse. They assume that their own privilege, marriages, money, insider contacts, quid pro quo New York-D.C. networking, etc. gives them exceptional entrée and advantages over others, and should be used accordingly and without remorse. They have no populist lamentation against capitalism on the grounds that their own compensation is ridiculous in comparison to what others make. None requests a pay cut; or transfers a child to the inner D.C. public-school system. None believes a phone call to a well-placed friend to promote a son’s or daughter’s college or job prospects is part of the odious “old boy network,” at least enough not to do it. So is it that liberal pontification about endemic racism and the need for higher taxes on people like themselves allows them to live in traditional 1-percenter style without cosmic guilt — and without any adjustment to their immediate landscapes? Is there a liberal battery that fuels the good life, but which must be charged periodically by loudly smearing others as racist? The more a blond, pink Elizabeth Warren rants about the 1-percenters and attests that she is a Native American, the less she is anxious about being a millionaire academic?

Somehow with all this “white this, white that” we are to assume that the white male tire-store owner in Tulare or the long-haul truck driver from Akron who lives with those who do not look like himself, and who finds that his 80-hour week does not add up to a day’s wages of Chris Matthews’ rantings, is culpable because, in the grand American tradition, he holds those now in charge responsible for 42 months of 8-plus percent unemployment, $4 gas, and $5 trillion in new debt, after being promised four years ago that things would not be as they are now.

When a media millionaire who resides in an all-white tony suburb sermonizes on racism, or when Barack Obama, also a millionaire who lives for free as president, lectures Americans on the need for higher taxes on “people like myself,” it really means less than nothing.

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