The Other McCain

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‘The NPR Tote Bag Set’: Liberal White Guys and Their Target Audience

Posted on | June 14, 2022 | Comments Off on ‘The NPR Tote Bag Set’: Liberal White Guys and Their Target Audience

One of the things about performative liberalism that must be understood is the desired audience for the performance. When those in the media — including people with large social-media followings — spend so much of their time virtue signalling and expressing concern about The Current Thing (e.g., Ukraine, J6, #MeToo), it raises the question, who is this for?

Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy distilled to its essence the psychological basis of liberalism, namely the belief of liberals that they are more enlightened than — morally and intellectually superior to — ordinary people. Once you recognize this as the emotional core of liberalism, everything they say or do makes a lot more sense. The “anointed” must continually demonstrate their superiority by advocating for causes and issues that contradict the values and beliefs of ordinary people. Although The Vision of the Anointed was written in the mid-1990s, and the examples Sowell uses to illustrate this tendency are some 25 years out of date, we still see the basic point confirmed daily, on issues ranging from violent crime to energy policy to transgenderism. On all these issues and more, the Anointed view the basic purpose of political engagement as creating opportunities to congratulate themselves for their manifest superiority.

These latter-day Pharisees are always righteous in their own eyes, and like to believe they are admired by others. This is why liberals are always attending annual events where they hand out awards to each other, to confirm their status as members of the Anointed elite. In fact, liberals will often take over otherwise non-political organizations and convert them to such purposes, which is why events like the Hugo Awards are now just a ceremonial celebration of liberal activism. You can’t get an award for science fiction writing unless you’re a liberal, in pretty much the same way that the Oscars and Emmy awards are just festivals of liberalism.

Life has gotten rough out lately there for one important segment of the Anointed. Because of the identity-politics madness that they’ve encouraged, white male liberals find themselves increasingly marginalized by their own movement, and their efforts to remain relevant are sometimes comically desperate, e.g., “Charlotte” Clymer.

Circa 2013, Charles Clymer was running “a rather successful feminist page on Facebook called Equality for Women” where, among other things, he presumed to lecture women who were doing feminism “wrong.” His “creepy” behavior attracted critical scrutiny:

Despite all this, Clymer desperately wants to be in the feminist spotlight. . . . He is expressing to you, he is demanding that you understand: Charles Clymer is dedicated to the cause of feminism and you and your magical vagina are going to believe him, like it or not.

Feminists started the hashtag #StopClymer to alert women to this problematic “male feminist.” Eventually, and perhaps predictably, Charles “came out” as transgender in January 2018, and now “Charlotte” Clymer is such a celebrated activist that “she” got invited to this year’s White House “Lesbian Visibility Day” event. Clymer’s trajectory is perhaps the most extreme example of the desperate measures by which white male liberals seek to remain relevant in the Age of Wokeness.

Freddie deBoer lampoons the somewhat less desperate, but nonetheless laughable, posturing of those he deems “Good White Men”:

These are the guys who have carefully crafted personas as ALLIES, as the good ones, as the right kind of white guy. These are the dudes whose every engagement on social media functions to let you know how very sorry they are, but always seem to come out on top in doing so. . . . These are the guys who will harangue you about how white dudes do this and white dudes do that, speaking to you from their blameless white dude mouths in their righteous white dude faces. These are the guys who look at the discourse about white supremacy and patriarchy and see market opportunity.

The target audience of these guys is what deBoer calls “the NPR tote bag set,” as for example his description of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes:

The only man who talks more about Donald Trump than Donald Trump himself, the living picture of the media liberal who’s compelled to outwardly disdain Trump but whose continued professional existence depends on him. . . . I would like to underline that he was once a genuinely interesting lefty writer who was willing to skewer liberals. . . Now Chris flatters people who have a favorite “podcatcher” app for a living, telling the world’s Sarah Lawrence graduates that when they feel better than everyone else, they’re right. He’s a living, breathing laundromat for the post-collegiate elite’s ugly feelings of superiority, reassuring them every day on his show that their snobbery and self-obsession are justified thanks to their superior moral virtue. . . .
He has tweeted 160,000 times; I challenge you to find one that dares to be anything less than perfectly anodyne to the median suburban liberal Democrat. This is what Hayes has done with his very rare opportunity as a cable news host, fixated relentlessly on Big Orange in order to juice ratings sufficiently to afford his affluent Brooklynite lifestyle. Otherwise, he’s simply avoided giving offense like it was the plague, specifically to the NPR tote bag set who keep him solvent. Imagine climbing your way up the totem pole in media and, having reached the top, using your perch to tell Montgomery County soccer parents that yes, the problem with our country is poor white people, and doncha wish we could all vote for Obama a third time?

And about another, less prominent, “Good White Man”:

This man is the basic bitch of Good White Men, a computer-generated NPC of a Noble Ally. Everything about his performance (and, if you’ll forgive me, his face) is so perfectly in the center of Good White Manness, I half suspect he’s been created by a creepy machine learning algorithm designed to mimic embittered social studies teachers who always told themselves they were destined for more. Everything about this dude is so bland and so utterly dedicated to not giving offense that I’ve forgotten what exactly it was that he was bitterly droning on about recently to inspire his inclusion in this list. Suffice to say that his tasteful crewneck and Warby Parkers are indeed emblematic of his politics, which amount to an NPR tote bag brought to life by a mischievous wizard that dreadfully recites tiresome woke cliches about standpoint theory and constantly says “my fellow white people, listen up!

Someone should have told these guys that one of the risks of following the herd is that you become a stereotype, a caricature, a cliché. Conformity is not a virtue, nor is popularity-seeking, but liberals typically lack the kind of self-awareness necessary to avoid this trap.

(Hat-tip: Instapundit.)



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