Ever since the Civil Rights movement became a “Grand Myth”, the 20th Century equivalent of wagon trains headed West and the Minutemen at Concord, an activity so redolent of national values that it becomes a metaphor for what being American is, every generation has been given its marching orders to fight for a new equality.
Fighting against inequality requires inequality in the same way that Manifest Destiny needed land area to work. It becomes harder to spread out once you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean. Fighting for civil rights becomes a struggle when everyone has the right to vote, drink from water fountains and do everything else.
After that it’s all imaginary territory. You aren’t really expanding the borders; you’re just paving over swamps, slopping split level housing all over them and pretending that the next lawsuit over racial profiling or the article over pay inequities is just like those people in the black-and-white photos marching at Selma.
Racism is a resource and like every other resource, it’s in danger of running out.
We hit Peak Racism decades ago. Peak Sexism peaked even earlier. Even Peak Homophobia peaked a while back. The cool kids are trying to push Islamophobia while peddling worn copies of Edward Said’s Orientalism that the campus book store refuses to buy back at more than 10% of the sale price.
Equality stopped being the issue before most of the people fighting inequality today on a professional basis were even born. Instead the issue became carving out niches of inequality that would preserve “inequality safaris” for the edification and lawsuits of future generations.
Bigotry is too prized a resource to just watch it drain away in some communal pool of brotherhood and sisterhood. The only thing to do is to find ways to dam it up and create national parks of bigotry that will allow future generations of civil rights warriors to rough it by camping out under the burning crosses while admiring themselves for their artificial courage in defense of a manufactured cause.
So instead of equality, there’s diversity that opens up a door for a select few while closing the door for everyone else. Instead of merit hiring, there’s quota hiring. That means one black guy in the boardroom, one Asian woman at the meeting and one Latino guy in the White House. And that’s all you get.
The quota can be increased. There can be two of each in the boardroom. Or four of each. The numbers don’t really matter. What matters is that there’s a quota. Instead of bringing in people because they can do the job; they are brought in as representatives of their race, sex and creed.
Affirmative action doesn’t combat the glass ceiling. It is the glass ceiling. Once the quota has been met, it’s been met. The great goddess of diversity on her pedestal of Made-in-China plastic has been appeased with an offering of a multiracial photo that represents the fabric of diversity. Next year there will be another offering, but that’s it for now. And it’s all white guys from here on in.
The white guys will talk about diversity and the importance of bringing in new voices and points of view. They’ll even hire someone to help them fill the quotas. But when the quotas are full, then they are full.
Diversity creates a wonderful snafu in which there can be a black guy in the White House and double digit unemployment for other black guys. Sorry guys, the quota has been filled. There can only be one Obama. Everyone else is out of luck.
The double vision isn’t accidental. It looks equal, but it’s not. The game is rigged and diversity rigged it. And there’s plenty to be angry about for everyone because in a rigged game everyone has just cause to be angry; except the people on whose behalf the game has been rigged. And those people aren’t white people or black people. They are the people that the system uses to perpetuate itself.
The system isn’t white power or black power. It’s just the system. It’s a bunch of white guys who despise the South and wish they had a black friend, deciding which black guy to use for their diversity quota. They’re doing it for the same reason that they display books they never read and invite interesting people over for boring dinner parties. Because it makes them seem like more than the overseers of the same repressive dreary system that exists to implement unfairness for the benefit of a few.
So the system can fight endlessly for equality without ever coming close to achieving it because the struggle is the thing that is in the way.
Generations of liberals defined themselves by civil rights and visit a civil rights theme park called the Federal Government. Bigotry is always a problem. The problem is maintained so that it can be fought endlessly in the Creation Myth of the New Progressive America.
Finding bigotry to fight takes work. The tar sands of bigotry have to be mined in an exhausting process to uncover new forms of bigotry. Bigotry is no longer a fact, but an attitude. It is proven not by its presence, but its absence. The lack of diversity is proof of bigotry. The presence of diversity is proof of white privilege. Everything has to be unpacked and peered at under a microscope to find that precious element of hate that fuels the liberal machine.
Bigotry is no longer about what you do, but how other people feel about it. Discrimination is not about opportunity, but about feelings. Finally it is revealed that bigotry is present everywhere. It is a quality that pervades every economic and interpersonal interaction. As some feminists insisted that all heterosexual sex is rape, so the new theorists of white privilege insist that any interracial interaction is inherently racist.
And when racism and sexism alone aren’t enough, there are always new discriminated groups being discovered by the post-apocalyptic civil rights warriors of tomorrow.
If Jesse Jackson bleating sonorously bores you, try gay rights. Put an equal sign on your Facebook profile and you are a civil rights hero. And if old gay men stage-kissing for the front page of your soon-to-be-out-of-business local weekly bores you, try men who pretend to be women persecuted by refusing to take their pretense seriously. And there’s always your friendly neighborhood Muslim who gets unfriendly stares at the airport when he begins screaming “Allah Akbar” when asked if he’s visiting from Pakistan on business or pleasure.
The civil rights movement is dead. In place of any real urge for equality is a determination to perpetuate inequality in order to keep the movement going. It’s as if everyone wanted to keep the great feeling of winning WW2 alive by landing at Normandy, shelling random tourists and then invading Paris to liberate it from the Nazis while refusing to listen to the Parisians when they insist that the Nazi armies are long gone and all that’s left are a bunch of skinheads listening to bad music.
Inequality in the name of equality has become an institution. It has become the institution that justifies all the other institutions of government and academia. If discrimination ever disappeared beyond the ability of modern eight-wave bigotry researchers to discover it in episodes of classic television shows and random interracial interactions, then the entire modern state would simply collapse.
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