"The Caucasian Card"
"The Caucasian Card"
Among the four leading candidates in America’s upcoming general election, two are considered “history making,” merely because of who they happen to be in biological terms—Barack Obama because he’s not white and Sarah Palin because she’s a woman. Although they share minority status in the political realm, and despite the fact that Palin is the directly hand-picked selection, Obama is much more likely to be thought of and labeled, and thus denigrated, as an “affirmative action candidate.” This is because so many white people naively associate affirmative action with black people, even though the majority of its recipients have been and are white.
In fact, the primary beneficiaries of preferential programs in America have been white women, resulting in the irony of white women repeatedly voting against affirmative action when it appears as a ballot issue. They often do so because they think of it as a black thing, but in the process, they're actually voting against their own interests.
As Luke Harris, a political science professor at Vassar College puts it, “If you look at who voted against affirmative action in the states, you will see that it is mainly White women. That is odd because studies have consistently shown that White women are the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action.”
John McCain clearly selected Sarah Palin instead of other, more qualified candidates largely because she’s a woman. As Jeff Fecke points out, “Palin isn’t ready for the vice presidency. And she wouldn’t have been selected if she was Steve Palin, radical anti-choice first-term governor of Alaska.”
In her first speech as a presumptive vice presidential nominee, Palin herself tacitly acknowledged the glaring significance of her gynecological assets.
“It was rightly noted in Denver that Hillary made 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America,” Palin said. “It turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
As anyone who’s been paying attention to the election knows, McCain and his people partly chose Palin to mollify the more hardline Christian Republicans, in the hopes that they’ll overlook their anti-feminist beliefs to vote for a woman, because she believes that creationism should be taught in public schools, and that abortion is the wrong choice in nearly all circumstances.
But they also chose Palin because she’s a woman, hoping to draw away lingering Hillary Clinton supporters, who might be so stuck on electing a woman that they’ll ignore this one’s anti-feminist views (this is an especially cynical ploy that does not, to the apparent credit of the PUMAs, seem to be working). Palin is also young and conventionally attractive, qualities that might liven up the Republican ticket and add to McCain’s reputation as a “maverick” who makes sudden, surprising, gut-inspired choices. Oh, and Palin also owns guns, kills wild animals, and eats them.
So aside from her gender, what’s not to like about Palin as a vice presidential candidate for ordinary red-blooded Republican voters? Well, her appalling lack of relevant knowledge and experience, first and foremost. The lack, that is, of the kinds of qualifications that black affirmative action recipients supposedly lack. This is the perceived lack that keeps a lot of white people away from black doctors and lawyers, and that also makes them hesitate if the pilot waving to them as they board an airplane is black.
As I noted in another post (where I also included this YouTube moment with “Family Guy’s” irresistible Stewie), whites who avoid black professionals are actually depriving themselves of better services. Because black professionals are acutely aware of such common white suspicions and fears about themselves, they tend to respond by perfecting their capabilities and qualifications as much as they can.
Nevertheless, whites usually think that affirmative action’s primary purpose and outcome are the unfair promotion of unqualified black people. Thus, a further white irony is that while Obama has been repeatedly considered and even directly labeled an “affirmative action candidate,” far fewer white people are likely to attach that label to Sarah Palin, who was much more obviously chosen, or hired, as it were, for her minority status as a woman.
So as the campaign season “shifts into high gear,” you might watch to see whether Obama or Palin receives the label or implication of “affirmative action candidate” more often, in both the corporate media and the minds and mouths of ordinary white Americans. I’d bet that because of this common, delusional white tendency to think of affirmative action as a black thing, the label and/or concept will be attached far more often to Obama, even though the concept's negative connotations are a far better fit for Palin.