At least that's the most fair read 'Puter can give to this fact-challenged piece in Sunday's Washington Post.
Mr. Yglesias postulates that as a result of the economic downturn, Americans have embraced "illiberal populist nationalism," careening headlong into xenophobia and racism out of fear. Mr. Yglesias cites three primary examples in support of his thesis: (1) repeal of birthright citizenship; (2) Ground Zero mosque protests; and (3) return of racial politics (e.g., new Black Panther Party voter intimidation and Shirley Sherrod USDA fiasco). Rather than look for the simple reality, Mr. Yglesias chooses instead that last refuge of liberals everywhere, Cry racism and let slip the toady reporters who smear!"
'Puter's simple explanation is thus. Regular Americans are tired of being told everyone's opinions and needs matter, except for theirs. Oh, and by the way, you're picking up the tab. Americans have a good sense for when they're getting screwed, and economic downturns only heighten this sense.
To be more responsive and less polemic, Mr. Yglesias's analysis misses the point. Mr. Yglesias focuses on second and third order questions, not on the underlying first order questions. An examination of the first order questions finds the instances of which Mr. Yglesias complains to be be related and rational.
1. Birthright citizenship. Americans don't care about this, only Washington and its sycophantic pundits do. And the Democrats and Republicans are using a manufactured dustup over the 14th Amendment to avoid Americans' basic concerns about immigration. Americans want the border secured. A country that cannot defend its borders is not much of a country at all, is it? Just ask Tibet. We can deal with the illegals already here later. Americans are rightly angry with the government for not doing its most basic job: defending the border. The birthright citizenship debate is a manifestation of this concern, not the concern itself.
2. Ground Zero mosque. Clearly, the mosque is not a multi-culti learning and peace center, it is a purposeful affront to the families of those who died in the Islamist 9/11 attacks. It's similar to having a Japanese zero pilot memorial at Pearl Harbor. That said, jackasses have as much right to legally build as anyone else. Mr. Yglesias and liberals take opposition to the mosque as a sign of backwards redneck intolerance. Maybe so, but perhaps Mr. Yglesias and his MSM compatriots would better spend their time examining Islam generally. This is a religion that in practice subjugates women (let's see MoDo drive or vote in Saudi Arabia), forbids free speech (see e.g., the "Draw Big Mo" kerfuffle) and actively undermines the laws and cultural norms of every society it encounters ("honor" killings, sharia courts, etc.). Why should Americans tolerate this sort of religiously induced ass-hattery? Why is not fair for Americans to be outraged by an ideology dedicated to destroying its way of life? Sure, Muslims are free to believe and worship as they wish. However, we're free to call them on their more backwards beliefs, and to insist in the imposition of America's secular values in public. Blaming America is a far easier storyline for Mr. Yglesias to push, one that fits his preconceived notions.
3. Racial politics. This is a red herring. Racism is not a significant problem in America today. In fact, the purveyors of racial politics and race based hatred are, for the most part, patrons of the Left. The National Black Panther Party engaged in racial intimidation. Ms. Sherrod admitted to a racist past, though she later repented. The media, and the government, have let both of these incidents slipped, explaining them away. It is this double standard to which Americans object. If it's racist (and criminal) for white folks to block polling places for blacks, why is it not so when the skin colors are reversed? If the "once a racist, always a racist" standard is applied to Trent Lott, then why not to Shirley Sherrod? It is the fundamental unfairness against which Americans are rebelling. It's not a sudden outpouring of racist xenophobia as Mr. Yglesias and his ilk would have you believe.
4. Recessions exacerbate racism. Nope. Recessions cause Americans to look around and correct the government overreaches that occurred during the good years. The reactions Mr. Yglesias complains of are rational responses to years of liberal government expansion and overreach. It's easy for America to ignore the feel good PC BS government does when there's plenty of money. But when times are tough, Americans look to the government to tighten its belt, as everyone else must. Mr. Yglesias simply doesn't like the results. That is, Americans, when confronted with their costs and consequences, reject liberals' pet programs.
These are the questions Mr. Yglesias and others should be asking. Focusing on the secondary and tertiary effects is mistaking the symptoms of a disease for its cause.
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