Opponents of the popular expression of conservative opposition to big government, the tea party, regularly note that tea partiers are overwhelmingly white. This is intended to disqualify the tea parties from serious moral consideration.
But there are two other facts that are far more troubling:
The first is the observation itself. The fact that the left believes that the preponderance of whites among tea partiers invalidates the tea-party movement tells us much more about the left than it does about the tea partiers.
It confirms that the left really does see the world through the prism of race, gender and class rather than through the moral prism of right and wrong.
One of the more dangerous features of the left has been its replacement of moral categories of right and wrong, and good and evil, with three other categories: black and white (race), male and female (gender) and rich and poor (class).
Therefore, the left pays attention to the skin color – and gender (not just “whites” but “white males”) – of the tea partiers rather than to their ideas.
One would hope that all people would assess ideas by their moral rightness or wrongness, not by the race, gender or class of those who hold them. But in the world of the left, people are taught not to assess ideas but to identify the race, class and gender of those who espouse those ideas. This helps explain the widespread use of ad hominem attacks by the left: rather than argue against their opponents’ ideas, the left usually dismisses those making the argument disagreed with as “racist,” “intolerant,” “bigoted,” “sexist,” “homophobic” and/or “xenophobic.”
You’re against race-based affirmative action? No need to argue the issue because you’re a racist. You’re a tea partier against ever-expanding government? No need to argue the issue because you’re a racist.
As a leftist rule of thumb – once again rendering intellectual debate unnecessary and impossible – white is wrong or bad, and nonwhite is right and good; male is wrong and bad, and female is right and good; and the rich are wrong and bad, and the poor right and good. For the record, there is one additional division on the left – strong and weak – to which the same rule applies: the strong are wrong and bad, and the weak are right and good. That is a major reason for leftist support of the Palestinians (weak) against the Israelis (strong), for example.
This is why, to cite another example, men are dismissed when they oppose abortion. The idea is far less significant than the sex of the advocate. As for women who oppose abortion on demand, they are either not authentically female or simply traitors to their sex. Just as the left depicts blacks who oppose race-based affirmative action as not authentic blacks or traitors to their race.
In this morally inverted world, the virtual absence of blacks from tea-party rallies cannot possibly reflect anything negative on the black and minority absence, only on the white tea partiers.
But in a more rational and morally clear world, where people judge ideas by their legitimacy rather than by the race of those who held them, people would be as likely to ask why blacks and ethnic minorities are virtually absent at tea parties just as they now ask why whites predominate. They would want to know if this racial imbalance said anything about black and minority views or necessarily reflected negatively on the whites attending those rallies.
And if they did ask such un-PC questions, they might draw rather different conclusions than the left’s. First, they would know that the near-absence of blacks and Hispanics no more implied racism on the part of tea partiers than the near-absence of blacks and Hispanics in the New York Philharmonic implies racism on the part of that orchestra.
Second, they might even, heaven forbid, conclude that it does not reflect well on the political outlook of blacks and Hispanics that they so overwhelmingly identify with ever-larger government. Leftist big-government policies have been disastrous for black America just as they were in the countries that most Hispanics emigrated from. But like the gambling addict who keeps gambling the more he loses, those addicted to government entitlements keep increasing the size of the government even as their situation worsens.
Finally, if one eschews the “racism” explanation and asks real questions, one might also conclude that America generally, and conservatives specifically, have failed to communicate America’s distinct values – E Pluribus Unum, In God We Trust, and Liberty (which includes small government) – to blacks and Hispanics.
Unfortunately, however, no real exploration of almost any important issue in American life is possible as long as the left focuses on the race, gender and class of those who hold differing positions. And that will not happen. For when the left stops attacking people and starts arguing positions, we will see what the left most fears: blacks and Hispanics at tea parties.