Thursday, January 12, 2006

Evil Racist Liberals are "Losing the Alitos"?

I came across a quote from David "Babbling" Brooks today, in which he suggests that Alito might have been a liberal, but for immigrant-bashing by Democrats....
If he'd been born a little earlier, Sam Alito would probably have been a Democrat. In the 1950's, the middle-class and lower-middle-class whites in places like Trenton, where Alito grew up, were the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

But by the late 1960's, cultural politics replaced New Deal politics, and liberal Democrats did their best to repel Northern white ethnic voters. Big-city liberals launched crusades against police brutality, portraying working-class cops as thuggish storm troopers for the establishment. In the media, educated liberals portrayed urban ethnics as uncultured, uneducated Archie Bunkers.

The liberals were doves; the ethnics were hawks. The liberals had "Question Authority" bumper stickers; the ethnics had been taught in school to respect authority. The liberals thought an unjust society caused poverty; the ethnics believed in working their way out of poverty.
Brooks has always had a penchant for simply "making stuff up" when he has no facts... and this is no exception. Perhaps he never got past watching "All in the Family" reruns when analyzing depictions of racism on television... but if he had watched a bit closer he might have recognized that while Archie was depicted as a bigot Edith was not, and between them they managed to produce a liberal child. That is, this depiction (which did not come from "big city liberals", but came from a capitalist broadcasting corporation seeking profits) was not one-sided.

Last I checked there were a few racists in the blue collar ranks of northern cities (along with all other societal ranks - racism knows no class or ethnic barrier). Not that he's at all representative, but I think the hard-working, northern "white ethnic" John Demjanjuk was probably a Republican even before he heard of Archie Bunker. And I don't think that the guys who killed Vincent Chin were demonstrating "blowback" agaist liberal television programming. I am reminded of a former co-worker of "northern white ethnic" extraction, who bragged of his family's relocation from Brooklyn to Bensonhurst when the "Moulies" moved in - while discussing the murder of Yusuf Hawkins. I am also not clear on how one would address the thuggery of such programs as the Detroit Police Department's STRESS program without noting that its activities targeted blacks with particularly brutal results, or observing that at the time the Detroit Police Department was 90% white. Also, if Brooks' theory had any validity one would think that you would see the urban north switching from blue to red. Um....

And what does this say of Alito, or at least Brooks' assessment of Alito? That he's such a shallow thinker that a few episodes of "All in the Family", and a (hypothetical) distant cousin's lament about the effects of integration in an urban police department would justify his transformation into a life-long enemy of progressive politics, and an enemy of integration and sexual equality? Isn't that the same type of ugly caricature that Brooks is accusing "liberals" of creating? I am sure that Alito can come up with a much less simple-minded and reactionary explanation for his beliefs, even if Brooks cannot.

And what of Brooks' distinction between "white ethnics" and other ethnics in the northern cities? Gee... if only those northern white liberals and non-white ethnics shared such notions as personal responsibilty and work ethic... why, maybe then New Jersey would again be a "blue state".

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