Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Pat Buchanan I Feel Your Pain: We are Made Brothers in the Struggle as White Men Are Now Experiencing their Own Version of Jim Crow
I am an advocate for the power of empathy, the idea that if we can learn to imagine ourselves in the place of others (and the Other) that we can make forward progress as a society. This is a two way street. I try to challenge Whiteness by exposing privilege. Reflexively, I have been working to increase my empathy for the likes of Pat Buchanan--to imagine what it must be like to be one of the "greatest" generation in the midst of their twilight. More specifically, I have been asking myself what it must be like to be a conservative White man of that generation, now witness to a political realignment (of sorts) and a Black president.
When coupled with increased immigration and the "browning of America," Buchanan's world has been turned topsy turvy. Up is now down, down is now up. For Pat Buchanan, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and others of that stripe, the now is a moment where their racial heliocentrism has been turned inside out. While the church condemned Copernicus for shattering the belief that the Earth was the center of the solar system, Buchanan's only permitted sanction is a bully pulpit from which to scream and rant in frustration against the tide of history.
To Buchanan, it must seem as though no one is listening. He is like a man swimming in syrup--desperate, angry, exhausted, and plagued by a type of racial, existential vertigo. In keeping with my call for empathy across the color line (and the generational divide), I would like Pat, and those like him whose privilege is now under siege, to know that I am listening.
What must it be like to be unloved, under constant criticism, (dis)empowered, denied your full humanity and citizenship? To always be deemed inadequate and a second class citizen? To have your competence questioned both regardless of, and despite, your training and qualifications? I will never know what you are feeling in this moment, the depth of your pain and insecurity. I concede that. Pat Buchanan and his kin have been victimized. And I will never know what that must feel like. But, I am here to listen, to understand, and to empathize. Pat Buchanan, I feel your pain.