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Marc Lamont Hill's Overrated Black People List, Part 2: Melissa Harris-Lacewell

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Posted on October 12 2009 12:54 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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See Part 1 of NewsReal’s ongoing series:

Marc Lamont Hill’s Overrated Black People List: Michael Eric Dyson

In our continuing discussion of the damage done to the African-American  community by affirmative action policies very rarely does one actually find actual admissions by an intellectual that they’re overrated, that their achievement is inflated because of their race. It does happen sometimes, though.

From The Nation’s The Notion group blog, Princeton professor and frequent cable news Obama booster Melissa Harris-Lacewell riffed on the harsh response she received from her fellow leftists for not happily going along with the President’s Nobel Appeasement Prize win:

I criticized the idea of awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to a president whose short presidency has included drone attacks with devastating civilian causalities, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and a painfully slow response to the basic human rights issues facing LGBT communities. I respect the President’s accomplishments in diplomacy but believed these issues were relevant to assessing his record on peace.

Translation: Obama has not toed the Left’s surrender line enough to be worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s a new one.

The criticisms were not meant as a sweeping indictment of President Obama’s administration, nor do they indicate my faltering support. I was using the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize award to ask what the international community recognizes as indicative of a broad commitment to peace.

Question: What does the the “international community” (translation: the international Left) recognize as indicative of a broad commitment to “peace” (translation: surrender)? Answer: Not being George W. Bush or a Republican.

I was stunned by the swift and angry responses from dozens of readers, followers, and friends. Some suggested I was a “hater.” Others felt my jovial tone was disrespectful of the President. Several fretted that conservatives would justify further attacks on President Obama using my words. I have disagreed with and criticized Obama as both a candidate and president before, but I have never elicited this kind of anxiety from readers.

Isn’t it amusing how leftists are all about being “respectful” to presidents once it’s their man in office?

In these responses, I detected a very particular American racial anxiety. Let’s call it the “Affirmative Action Dilemma.” Beginning in the 1980s, conservatives, led by African American thinkers like Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell, began to argue that affirmative action has a deleterious psychological impact on African Americans. Affirmative action, they lamented, leads black people to always wonder if their success is real, deserved, and meritorious, or simply illusory, unearned, and political. Yesterday’s anxiety about my critique of the Nobel Peace Prize Award appeared to echo these worries. Some felt that by raising my disagreement I was implying President Obama did not deserve the prize, and that politics, not merit, was responsible for the committee’s decision.

Didn’t Obama himself even admit that he did not deserve it? Doesn’t everyone with a functioning brain admit that he didn’t deserve it and that any of the other nominees — who actually worked and suffered — should have gotten it?

I heard the unspoken Affirmative Action Dilemma lurking. “Please professor, don’t make them think we have things we didn’t earn”

Since when is the Left concerned about people getting things they didn’t earn? Isn’t that the Left’s whole reason for being? To give unearned goods and services to people out of some misguided religious concept of “social justice”?

Generally the response to affirmative action anxiety is to list all of the individual’s accomplishments and thereby prove the individual is actually worthy of the award or position. Most Obama faithful pursued this tactic yesterday. Many demanded that I tune into The Rachel Maddow Show and several sent me lists of all President Obama’s accomplishments in the area of diplomacy. Uh…ok, but that strategy is limited. (Particularly because it doesn’t really negate the whole two wars, drone attacks thing)

I think a more effective counter to the Affirmative Action Dilemma is a little honesty about the wages of whiteness.

I am an affirmative action baby (born in 1973), and I have never felt any dilemma about the policy. I did not sit in my college classroom fretting about whether my white peers thought I deserved to be studying beside them. I have never lost a night of sleep worrying about my colleagues who regard my tenured position at Princeton University as a policy decision, rather than a scholarly accomplishment. This is not because I am so sure of my personal worthiness- that ebbs and flows-rather my general lack of affirmative action anxiety is derived from my clear sense of the continuing reality of white privilege.

[Emphasis added.]

Harris-Lacewell then links to this silly ad hominem attack on Sarah Palin to try and define the Left’s cultist dogma of “white privilege” as some sort of justification for the anti-white racism called affirmative action.

Harris-Lacewell effectively admits that she’s where she’s at now because of policies that were put in place to make her overrated. How is she able to justify this immoral “two wrongs make a right” thinking? Through her “progressive” politics of bad faith. In invoking the myth of “white privilege” she and other intellectuals are able to argue for the further institutionalization of a very real “minority privilege.”

And the practical result: black intellectuals like herself and others who will appear on NewsReal’s list are elevated to positions beyond their abilities, to the perpetual detriment and embarrassment of the very community that the Left is seeking to help. And the Obama Nobel win only proves this more than anything. Watching his speech he’s practically embarrassed. He knew that he didn’t deserve and even admitted it:

It was the Left that thrust Obama into this position, not the supposedly “racist” Right. And if “progressives” are left to their own devices this degradation of minorities will only continue — unless conservatives stand up to condemn racial advantages and promote Martin Luther King-style equality.

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