Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Game changer?

Update: NAACP denounces Jim Webb's comments.

Friday's Wall Street Journal had an op-ed piece by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) that had some scratching their heads while others agreed.

The Richmond Time-Dispatch's Jeff Schapiro was one of those who seemed a bit puzzled as he wrote:
Writing for the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal this past Friday, Virginia's senior senator proposed junking federal anti-discrimination programs. Webb argues that they have strayed "so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white."

Webb says programs that were a response in the 1960s to centuries-old, government-sanctioned prejudice against blacks have morphed into protections for all people of color, including newly arrived Asian and Latin immigrants, moving "affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites."

Such views would seem wildly heretical for a Democrat, and dangerously impolitic, particularly for a Democrat who underperformed with black voters in his improbable victory over George Allen in 2006 -- a triumph too easily attributed to public revulsion over the perceived racial slur Allen directed at an Indian-American working for Webb.
Today's Washington Examiner opined:
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Webb put to rest the myth of white dominance that has "served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America." Because of government-sponsored "diversity" policies, he wrote, white workers have become marginalized to serve an overbroad effort to make up for past wrongs.

Webb rightly notes that the old South was a three-tiered society, "with blacks and hard-put whites both dominated by white elites who manipulated racial tensions in order to maintain power." He might have added that white elites used populist rhetoric to keep an entire third of the region's population disenfranchised, in effect also making the Southern economy "backward."
They concluded with this:
Webb's argument is rooted in a genuine desire to get past the "gotcha" politics of race and the unintended consequences of racial guilt. With luck and good sense, the nation will follow suit.
A friend commented, "Game changer?" Good question.

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