David Sirota and the white Leftist version of racism

It's kind of funny when you think about it, but silver-pen David Sirota thinks he's got a better grip on race than the founding director of the Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South at Tulane University, Melissa Harris-Perry. After Professor Harris-Perry's piece in The Nation chiding white Leftist electoral racism of double standards against a black president received acclaim and attention, Sirota, a renowned fantasy-land pretend-Leftist, has decided that he was going to take on Professor Harris Perry, by being too cute by half.


Sirota's argument, on the surface, is that the elite white Leftist class - who overlap with the Professional Left about 90% - is really mad at the president not out of some double standard they set for a black president, but on the basis of policy. Or as David calls it, policy betrayals. Clever. Because we have never seen the attempt to hide denial of race-privilege behind a thin veil of policy criticism ever before, right?

You are familiar with the good ol' whining points David relies on:
  • The good ol' public option pony.
  • Misdirected anger at the president for saving the global economy from a depression that had to involve rescuing financial institutions (although David does not mention that the TARP is running a profit for the taxpayers).
  • The idiotic idea that the president rejected Medicare drug-rate negotiation provisions in health reform when it was him that got huge price discounts (beginning at 50%) for Medicare Part D recipients. This is based on anonymous pharmaceutical industry sources (see, suddenly when it's convenient for him, Sirota assumes that the drug industry is telling the truth).
  • Bitching about the president's action in Libya - that not only were completely legal but successful.
  • Breathtakingly stupid assumption that all international trade deals are "NAFTA-style."
  • Complaining about warrantless wiretapping and confusing its current form with what Bush had done, and not even mentioning that Congress definitively rewrote the rules that the government operates under in 2008. That change did not satisfy a lot of civil libertarians, but no one in their right mind can argue that it is the same as the unlimited powers Bush had claimed in 2005 and 2006.
David Sirota and other privileged white Leftists may have the luxury to bitch and moan about the public option, but the 40% of black children who live in poverty cannot wait for another decade for that debate to be completed. The children who live at or near poverty are disproportionately Hispanic and African Americans and thus disproportionate beneficiaries of president's historic expansion of SCHIP, something Sirota seems to just skip. Likewise, health reform, as it was passed, already forbids pre-existing condition discrimination against children, once again disproportionately benefiting people of color. The same health reform law that Sirota so hates for lacking a public option massively expands Medicaid, once again a program for the poor that benefits the economically downtrodden, most often overlapped with people of color.

And guess what, David Sirota? Don't think that people of color aren't noticing. The Affordable Care Act enjoys its strongest backing among communities of color, and among its most ardent fact-ignoring critics are the white pretend-Left professional chatter classes. Does David Sirota ever wonder why that is?

The thesis of white Leftist elite racism does not lie in the idea that all (or any) policy criticism of a black president is by definition racist, no matter what Sirota's fantasies are. The thesis lies, on two fronts: first, that the professional white Leftist elite class cares more about ideological hangups than they do about actually helping the needy, who are disproportionately minorities. That part of the thesis was just proven above. The second part of that thesis is the very real observation that the first African American president is not treated with the same level of respect by the white Leftist elite, nor does his accomplishments enjoy among them the same praise had those same accomplishments come from a white president. And this part of the thesis, unfortunately, is not at all difficult to prove, either.

obama signingHealth Care Reform: You cannot tell me that a had a white Democratic president been able to achieve the exact same health reform (expanding coverage to 32 million additional Americans by 2014, a patients' bill of rights on steroids, free preventive care, expansion of Medicaid and community health centers), white Leftists, most likely including Sirota, wouldn't have heaped praises on him. You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who reduced drug costs under Medicare by extracting the discount, in its entirety, from the pharmaceutical industry, and closed the donut hole for seniors as well as eliminating copays for preventive care would not be given a place as a hero for Medicare by the white Leftist elite class. Instead, we get lots of whining about the public option (without one of these ho-hums ever devising a legislative strategy to actually get it passed), and worse, we get indignation the the president who has strengthened Medicare for its beneficiary should not be able to even "touch" that same program.

Wall Street Reform: You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who put in place the toughest regulatory reform of the banking and financial industries since the ones after the Great Depression (including giving regulators authority to wind down financial institutions that are a risk to the system) and created a dedicated federal agency for consumer protection, while at the same time instituting credit card reform for consumers and student loan reform would not be hailed as the second coming of FDR by the white Leftist economic elite. Instead, we hear cries about nationalizing banks.

Rescuing a moribund economy and financial system: You cannot tell me that had a white Democratic president turned around an economy bleeding nearly a million jobs a month and a financial sector (the place where they hold your average working person's retirement savings, you know) on the verge of a global collapse and make money for the taxpayer, that he wouldn't have been worshiped. You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who kept teachers, firefighters and police officers working during the worst economic storm since the Great Depression would not be hailed as a great friend of both liberal economic policy and unions. You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who single-handedly rescued the American auto industry and with it a million auto-worker jobs would not be given a hero's place by the liberal white elite. Instead, we hear how the president is a "corporatist."

Watching out for the poor and the middle class: You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president, who, for a temporary extension of the top rate tax cuts, extracted from a hostile Republican party a year's extension of unemployment benefits and the first tax relief for the working poor (the payroll tax cut), that he would not be saluted as the best friend of the poor and the unemployed and a political genius. Instead, we got indignant calls by the likes of David Sirota to abandon the middle class and the poor just to raise taxes on the rich.

Students: You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who made historic investments in students and expanded Pell grants would not be praised by liberal white elites of this country as the education president. Instead they are yelling about charter schools.

LGBT civil rights: You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who made it possible for gay and lesbian Americans to serve in our country's military openly and expanded federal hate crimes statutes to include crimes motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity would not be celebrated as a pioneer on gay and transgender civil rights. Instead, we get denial from these same people that the president had anything to do with DADT repeal at all.

Environment and fuel economy: You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who nearly doubled the nation's automobile fuel efficiency standards and for the first time in history set fuel standards for commercial vehicles would not be hailed as the white Leftist establishment as a great environmentalist (oh, and by the way, he did it all without Conrgess and with the auto industry on board). Instead, Barack Obama is branded an enemy of the environment for putting an EPA regulatory step back on its usual schedule.

Foreign policy: You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who was successfully winding down two wars would not have been welcomed as a peace candidate by the white elite liberal class. You cannot tell me a white Democratic president who set the example for multilateral action for international crises (as in Libya) would not be presented by the white Leftist elites as an internationalist. Instead, we get Sirota's buddies calling President Obama a war criminal.

Trade policy: You cannot tell me that a white Democratic president who made trade deals truly a fair game for Americans by inserting enforceable labor and environmental standards as core parts of our trade agreements would not be hailed by the white Leftist media class. Instead, we get a bunch of fearmongering about how all trade deals must be equal without any attention to the details. Sirota, by the way, is a known foreign policy racist. He is the same man who went after US economic aid to Sri Lanka, a country ravaged by decades of civil war and devastated by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004. Come to think of it, Sri Lanka is also a country of dark skinned people. Hmm. Just sayin'.

You know what else?

Elite not standing by the president when he's right: Had a white Democratic president's executive order to close Guantanamo Bay were blocked by a Democratic Congress by the means defunding such a move, the white Leftist elite class would have gone apeshit on the asses of that Congress. Had a white Democratic president's call for immigration reform went unanswered by a Democratic Congress, that Democratic Congress would have heard from the self-proclaimed protectorate of the Left. Where were you folks with the big mouths and precious little bundles of courage?

That's the problem. It's not that the white Leftist elite is thinking, "Hey, he's black, we can beat up on him!" the same way that the white conservative elite class is thinking. What's going on among the liberal white pretend-Leftists, though, is just as nefarious. It's a denial. It's a denial of race-privilege. It's the denial of this president's impressive progressive achievements by pulling out some small nitpick at every turn. It's a denial of the fact that on its face, no white Democratic president in similar position would be treated with so much disrespect from them as Barack Obama has been. Maybe they can't see it. Maybe they have a blind spot about that race privilege. But if they can't see it, it's time to open those eyes.

The problem, David Sirota, is not that the critics from the white Leftist elite media class is don't have anything to do with policy. The problem is that way too often, policy nitpicks and fights are chosen to be waged by the likes of you without doing much factual research about the policy or tempering them with the president's accomplishments against a black president that you never would have waged under a white president. The problem is that you are picking fights with a black president that you never would with a white Democratic one. The problem is not that you criticize the black president. It is that in your attacks, you refuse to add context.

The racist undertone is also present in the latent expectation that once you have elected a black president, he needs to be a magician and magically begin a utopia according to your likings. It's present in the refusal to recognize that Barack Obama has a harder job to get anything done because of the color of his skin and the institutional racism in our government, and yet he has managed to get more done in less time than any president of recent times. To ignore that reality of institutional racism is itself the denial of white-privilege. And I am going to call that denial of race-privilege what it actually is: it's racism.

The truth of liberal white elitism and racism is based on true observations, and is not much better than that from the Republicans: that the black guy, who's working day and night to keep the car from slipping back into the ditch and move forward is not pushing it hard enough or the right way, and so on and so forth.