In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.
The year began with an oddly specific medical diagnosis courtesy of the Guardian, where Afua Hirsch informed us that boob eczema is caused by “racist microaggressions.” Readers were left to suppose that the condition might only be resolved by lengthy grumbling about “structural racism” and the oppressive nature of “whiteness.” More prosaic solutions – say, a change of detergent, or indeed bra, were not explored. “Whiteness” also bedevilled Ms Cristina Beltrán, an associate professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, who was both mystified and aggravated by the existence of non-white Trump supporters, and who identified “multiracial whiteness” as the only conceivable explanation. For Ms Beltrán, non-white voters who prefer to be engaged with as individuals, as opposed to racial mascots, are merely surrendering to “whiteness” and “white supremacy.” And so, Ms Beltrán bemoaned racism and “the debasement of others” while casually erasing agency from anyone brownish who happens to disagree with her.
Meanwhile, academics at the University of York were rendered fretful and distraught by an image on the website of an art history conference – specifically, of the seventeenth-century Buddhist figurine, the three wise monkeys – which, via much focussing of intersectional lenses, was construed by our academics as a caricature of black people, and therefore oppressive. And denunciations of “whiteness” and “white supremacy” also featured in a mandatory course at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. On grounds that, in order to be a dentist, you must first submit to condescension and insults, and accusations of being either a bigot or an enabler of bigotry, based solely on unchangeable aspects of your appearance.
In February, we beheld the chutzpah of our new downtrodden elite at the United Nations International School, where the children of diplomats and titans of international banking insisted that even a single mispronunciation of an unobvious name is a form of “racial trauma” inflicted by “the white man’s mouth.” Elsewhere, at the University of Minnesota, we heard one student recount his experience of racial profiling and police brutality – “the most traumatic thing I have ever experienced” – and then, thanks to dashcam video, saw what actually happened.
And in the Los Angeles Times, the scrupulously progressive Virginia Heffernan aired her outrage at neighbours who cleared the snow from her driveway, but failed to vote for Joe Biden - the latter act requiring “absolution,” and thus excusing Ms Heffernan’s supposedly principled ingratitude for the former. You see, resenting neighbours’ acts of kindness, and publicly badmouthing those neighbours, in print, is the progressive way, and a basis for expecting applause.
Oh, and we also learned how to turn toilet paper into drinkable alcohol.