I enjoy political commentators and pundits who drape themselves in nostalgia, regaling their readers with stories of how things used to be–and in some cases how things ought to be. Pat Buchanan likes to indulge in that type of, my old America circa 1955 rhetoric– and as a result– some of his work reflects that narrow, stodgy thinking.
Buchanan’s piece on the bias against WASPS (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) by liberals illustrates that fact. Mr. Buchanan simply longs for the days when white men were picked for every powerful position in industry and government. Here is the money quote:
Indeed, of the last seven justices nominated by Democrats JFK, LBJ, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, one was black, Marshall; one was Puerto Rican, Sonia Sotomayor. The other five were Jews: Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this the Democrats’ idea of diversity?
But while leaders in the black community may be upset, the folks who look more like the real targets of liberal bias are white Protestants and Catholics, who still constitute well over half of the U.S. population.
Buchanan’s need to prevent diversity from destroying his 1955 sensibilities, complicates the convoluted point he’s trying to make. My questions is simply this: What is his idea of diversity? Is it nominating more men who look like he does? Let’s examine his argument about Jewish Americans on the Supreme Court, and part of the quote above. Here are some facts about bias that Mr. Buchanan might want to think about:
In American history, there have been 111 Supreme Court justices. Of that 111, only two have been black. Only one has been Hispanic. Only three have been women. Only seven have been Jewish. Buchanan’s claim that their is liberal bias toward white men when applied toward the court is beyond ludicrous. Throughout history, Blacks, Hispanics, women and Jews were never significant parts of the political power structure. Presidents were compelled to nominate those that are closest to them.
That familiarity comes from a variety of factors, not the least of which is their physical resemblance and personal affinity. Since 43 of our 44 presidents have been white males, the majority of justices nominated have been white males. Where does Buchanan’s argument have merit?
A closer look inside the rhetoric reveals a much more deeply rooted problem for Buchanan and his compatriots: Fear. The fear of the erosion of white male privilege. Clearly the rise to power of Blacks, Hispanics, women, and Jews has unnerved elitist conservatives. Conservatives like Buchanan were and are fearful that programs such as affirmative action would winnow away the built in pillars that support the white male power structure.
Buchanan’s spiel reignites that self-fulfilling prophecy. His ardent belief that the new liberal diversity is a detriment to the existing power dynamic, is allowing some white males to now exhibit a skewed sense of fairness. They fear not getting into the right schools, or not getting the right job because minorities will get them instead. They fear being targeted for irrelevancy.
Buchanan’s self-preservation narrative is coated in bigoted, anti-Semitic vitriol. He neglects to mention that three-fourths of supreme courts justices have been protestant, and even more than that have been Anglo-Saxon. I assume he would like to see those numbers increase. If that’s his thinking, I have no issue with that. I take issue with continuing the false narrative of the endangered white male, considering white males are overwhelmingly entrenched in positions of power in all institutions.
But America’s face is slowly changing. And as a result, so are some of those same institutions. Times are changing, and the old conservative guard–led by Mr.Buchanan — would be wise to adapt to that, rather than lob lyrical grenades. Buchanan’s America reflects his goal of continuing WASP political hegemony. Sadly for him, it is no longer 1955.