Traveling back to New York, Newsom’s authoritarian twin in Albany has decreed limits on private gatherings that effectively ban large parties. Translated for those who need it, Andrew Cuomo has joined Newsom with a ban on what makes Thanksgiving great. The problem for Cuomo is that his subjects have stopped listening.
Even better, the law in New York has begun tuning out New York’s power-mad governor. Indeed, as the New York Times reported last week, an upstate sheriff informed the newspaper that “his office” would “never interfere with ‘the great tradition of Thanksgiving dinner.’” It seems this sheriff won’t be the only one to mock what vandalizes ridiculous. Another sheriff in the southern part of the Empire State informed the Times that he would not be “peeking in your window” in an effort to count heads. A third sheriff informed Times reporter Michael Gold that entering houses “to see how many Turkey or Tofu eaters are present isn’t a priority.”
But manifestly it isn’t working. Police are making clear they can’t and won’t enforce such a ban. At a gym outside Buffalo on Friday, dozens of business owners who had met to discuss how to survive new Covid-19 restrictions chased away a health inspector and two sheriff’s deputies who had gone inside to break up the meeting because it violated the governor’s limit. It’s a good example of how relying on government edicts rather than persuasion breeds contempt for both health experts and the law.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown is correct: So many of governments’ responses to Covid-19 are health theater – yet these are theater of a dastardly sort, for the producers and directors abuse their audiences coercively .
Biden says we are in trouble because we have relied too heavily on the private sector. However, the problems he wants a National Supply Commander to solve are there because the government wouldn’t leave the private sector alone. As many economists have written, prices are like signal flares. They tell people who want resources most urgently, and they do it with a specificity that goes beyond vague generalizations like “Hospitals need more masks.”
But there is a problem with these mandates: To achieve their ends, they both need blacks to be victims. Whites need blacks they can save to prove their innocence of racism. Blacks must put themselves forward as victims the better to make their case for entitlements.
This is a corruption because it makes black suffering into a moral power to be wielded, rather than a condition to be overcome. This is the power that blacks discovered in the ’60s. It gained us a War on Poverty, affirmative action, school busing, public housing and so on. But it also seduced us into turning our identity into a virtual cult of victimization—as if our persecution was our eternal flame, the deepest truth of who we are, a tragic fate we trade on. After all, in an indifferent world, it may feel better to be the victim of a great historical injustice than a person left out of history when that injustice recedes.
Yet there is an elephant in the room. It is simply that we blacks aren’t much victimized any more. Today we are free to build a life that won’t be stunted by racial persecution. Today we are far more likely to encounter racial preferences than racial discrimination. Moreover, we live in a society that generally shows us goodwill—a society that has isolated racism as its most unforgivable sin.
This lack of victimization amounts to an “absence of malice” that profoundly threatens the victim-focused black identity. Who are we without the malice of racism? Can we be black without being victims? The great diminishment (not eradication) of racism since the ’60s means that our victim-focused identity has become an anachronism. Well suited for the past, it strains for relevance in the present.