Monday, August 3, 2020

Identity-Theft Politics

Elizabeth Warren didn't invent it but she benefited from it.

In a recent posting, I mentioned Rachel Doezel, the white woman from Minnesota who dyed her skin and teased her hair and claimed that she was black. Her parents exposed her as a fraud when she ran for and was successfully elected as president of the local chapter of the NAACP.  Doezel finally admitted to the deception, but claimed that she felt black inside and therefore that counted for something.

It is an interesting argument, and one that seems to be gaining steam. As I noted before, a lot of middle-class white kids like to act out as rappers and gangsters and other badass personas as part of our culture of belligerence.  Once again whitey steals from the black community, this time expropriating the entire rap and hip-hop culture, or a minstrel show caricature of it.  In fact, some of the biggest selling rap stars are in fact white. And the largest audience for rap music is young white teenagers.

That sort of thing started with Elvis and perhaps before. Today we condemn people wearing blackface, re-enacting minstrel shows. However, blackface was really just another example of expropriating Black culture.  Minstrel shows were originally performed by black performers. White people decided to get in on this act by painting their faces black and mimicking the originators of that genre.

The odd thing is, some of those blackface musicians were not mocking blacks, but paying homage to those early black artists.  But of course, later on, it became a farce - exaggerating the movements and antics of black minstrel show performers, who themselves used exaggerated movements and language to entertain a largely white audience with a caricature.  Cultural appropriation isn't always bad, but I think we can agree blackface always was.

The question is, why would anyone voluntarily assume the aspects of a minority group?   After all, there are many disadvantages, economically, to being black.   But I suspect Ms. Doezel and others who "act black" are doing so because culturally, it is considered much cooler.  The channels aimed at the youth market prominently feature black artists and black music.   So, many young people perhaps identify with black culture (or what they perceive to be black culture, as viewed from the safety of cable TV or the Internet) as it provides a social advantage among their peer group.

In other cases, pretending to be a minority may provide actual economic advantage.  I mentioned before how at Crystal City (now home to Amazon, formerly home of the Patent Office) they passed a law that people with handicapped placards didn't have to pay for meter parking. Overnight, every car at a meter had a handicapped placard.  Not only did you not have to pay, you could leave your car there all day.  Meter income went to zero, so they changed the law so handicapped people could stay all day, but had to pay the meter. Overnight, the handicapped placards disappeared and street parking again became available.

And a lot of people do this.  My Dad did, Mark's Dad did.  Just slip Mom's Handicap placard on the windshield when you go to the store - and get the best parking place!  People think the idea of handicapped parking wasn't to make the playing field "even" but to provide an advantage to the handicapped, so as to make up for their handicap.   It is wrong, but a lot of people believe that, deep down, even if they don't say it out loud.

Hence people bring a dog into the store, claiming it to be a service pet, when it is just an unruly mutt.  Or worse yet, they want to bring a chicken or a ferret on an airplane.  Having a "disability" is now seen as advantageous.  Where's my special meal?  I want low-salt, low-fat, gluten-free, kosher, halal happy meal! (e.g., a box of air).   And in many cases, the "special" meal ends were better than the standard fare, which served only to reinforce the notion that being a special snowflake has its advantages.

In the past, being handicapped or being a minority or even being a woman (who are not a minority, but a slim majority - whey aren't they running things?) kind of sucked.   You got the short end of the stick most of the time - discriminated against, harassed, assaulted, or left out of society in general.  Today, we have made great strides in eliminating or reducing these barriers.  But in some instances, such as with affirmative action, there may actually be benefits to being a minority or woman.  If you are a government contractor, it may pay to put the company in your wife's name, particularly if she is Black or Hispanic.  As a former "small business" (we also get set-asides) government contractor, I was asked this question every year when I renewed my SAMS registration.   And yes, I knew people who did this - putting the company in the wife's name or taking on a minority partner to get more contracts.  Act shocked.   You create a gaming system and some people play the game, others play the system.

Identity-Theft politics doesn't end there.  Title IX stipulates that schools receiving government money have to support women's athletics.   However, some States, such as Connecticut, have allowed "transgender" women (who are boys, genetically) to compete in women's sports.   It would not be a big deal, but apparently one or two of these transgender athletes are cleaning up at the local and State track meets - winning all the prizes, because they have a much more muscular body mass, as is typical of males.  As a result, they would be eligible for scholarships and women athletes would miss out.  Is that fair to women?   Are men going to take that away, too?

But wait, there's more.  Apparently people are now claiming to be sexual minorities, which at the present time appears to be little more than an attention-getting device.  But, since the Supreme Court has ruled that an employer cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation, it opens the door for people to claim discrimination, simply by claiming to be bisexual, queer, asexual, any one of the LGBTQ letters that are being constantly added to these days.

Back in the day, all we wanted was to be left the hell alone to live our lives as we saw fit and not to be persecuted.  Gays didn't want special set-asides or treatment, or for folks to walk on eggs around us.  As I noted to my conservative straight employee, I was not in favor of such anti-discrimination laws, as if enacted, he could sue me for discriminating against him for being straight!   With each additional cause of action in the workplace comes thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of frivolous lawsuits and as many more settlements that never make it to court.

Gays have historically have a higher income and wealth level than Lesbians and straight people.  All that fabulous doesn't come cheap!  So in terms of discrimination, back in the day, what we were worried about was the Cops arresting us in a gay bar for... being gay in a bar.  Or some yahoo beating us over the head with a baseball bat.  That was real injustice.  To hear these transgender folk tell it, that's nothing compared to being called by the wrong pronounWe just wanted to be left the hell alone, thank you.  We did just fine, economically, even if some fundamentalist Christian employer wouldn't hire us.   Life wasn't fair - and we didn't expect it to be.   We did OK even then - and better than most.   We weren't victims.

And no, we didn't seek out Christian businesses and tried to force them to bake cakes or photograph our weddings or whatever.   Maybe those Christians are dolts, but trying to force someone to accept you is just wrong - and will backfire in a big way.  Besides, it is kind of cruel to force someone into an awkward position like that.  And how good do you think the photos of your Lesbian wedding will be if the photographer is seething all the time?   Just cut that shit out - it ain't helping.

Today?  Well, victimhood is not only the new norm, it is aspirational.   So in a way, it is why people are seeking out some sort of minority status.   After all, we all hate white heterosexual men (about 30% of the population - a minority!) so if you are one, maybe you couldn't be blamed if you posit that you are one of the few.  Put your hair in a man-bun and call yourself an asexual fairy or whatever - and now you can join the protest!

Maybe we should go back to the old days - when there were initiation ceremonies and they didn't just let anyone join the club.   Just kidding.  But it reminds me of a comment made by a friend of mine back in 1985.  Syracuse University was being very touchy-feely even back then, and put on a panel discussion about gays and whatnot, and he agreed to appear on the panel as the token gay (well, the only one "out" anyway).  They went on and on about why he was gay and whatnot, and he said to me, "I really wanted to just say, 'I like [performing fellatio]' but I couldn't say that!"   I though that was pretty funny - these academics treating this all with grave seriousness.  As I noted before, the Gay Student Association used to have a social every week with free beer.  Today, it is the Lesbian Gay Transgender Studies Building and not nearly as much fun.  It may be gay, but they didn't look very happy.

But a comment my friend made that also stuck with me was, "There are so many of these guys who want to say they were gay in college, but later on get married!"   I am not sure that is the case, but it struck me as odd, that even back then, people would affect an affection, perhaps for attention, or to gain acceptance or popularity within a peer group.  Perhaps today, this is even moreso.

Before I leave the topic of sexual minorities, there has been a lot of ink spilled about a transgender murder spree.   The narrative is that transgender women (that is to say, men who dress and appear as women - the nomenclature is so confusing!) are being murdered. This is indeed true, but if you scratch the surface, many if not most of these victims are prostitutes, and the murder rate of prostitutes is alarming.  The fact that the majority of these prostitutes murdered are racial minorities is also alarming - and yet no one at these protests is protesting the slaughter of women this way.  Kids today even mock it, calling riding in the back of  a car, "Riding Dead Hooker".   In one town in Long Island, people complained about dead prostitutes' body parts washing up on shore - not because the tragedy of young women being murdered, but because it inconvenienced them on their daily beach walk.

So yea, we should be outraged about all the transgender prostitutes being murdered - and the black, Hispanic, and white prostitutes being murdered, the underage runaways murdered and so on and so forth. But you will never see these Antifarts protest that, will you?  And yet thousands die every year.   It is a tragedy, and it kind of irks me that they are making this into a transgender tragedy, as if it doesn't affect women as well.  Taking away even that.

But getting back to topic, I think you will see more of this Identity-Theft Politics as we go forward.  We have demonized heterosexual white males to the point where young boys are being raised with the narrative that they are little more than demons and their kind has ruined the country, the planet, and God-knows-what-else.   So people seek a new identity - and sometimes such an identity can have social advantages or even financial ones.  It's been done before.

I am not taking a piss on Elizabeth Warren - she is a decent human being and has some very good ideas.   But she fell into the trap that many middle- and upper-class whites did back in the 1960's.  My own Mother, after a few drinks, would allege we were also related to Pocahontas.  I think a lot of WASP-y types did that back in the day.  It made for colorful cocktail conversation, and added an air of mystery about oneself.

Of course, a little bit of Indian blood from a distant ancestor was OK - you still got into the country club.   But there were rules about that sort of thing.  Very strict rules.

It illustrates, however, how this Identity-Theft Politics is nothing new.  Claiming minority ancestry, or mimicking the behaviors or culture of minorities often had social advantages or even financial ones.  It worked for Elvis.   It didn't hurt Ms. Warren, either.

But maybe it is time we changed that.  Because when someone claims minority status speciously, they inevitably take away from someone else who actually is that minority, whether it is cultural or economic - or a combination of the two.

Yea, looking at you, Marshal Mathers!