Issues & Insights

Innocent Until Proven Privileged

The authoritarian religion of the left has discovered and stigmatized a new original sin: Privilege. And there are no priests who can absolve those born with this indelible stain, and no waters that can wash it away.

So when far-left, ultra-PC Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made multiple self-flagellating public confessions last week after evidence surfaced that he had repeatedly dressed in blackface, the standard apologies wouldn’t nearly suffice.

Addressing the press in Winnipeg on Thursday, Trudeau, who faces the Canadian electorate next month, said, “The fact is, I didn’t understand how hurtful this is to people who live with discrimination every single day. I have always said that I come from a place of privilege, but I now need to acknowledge that that comes with a massive blind spot.”

Time to take out that trusty guiltspeak decoder and decipher what exactly is beneath the surface here. Trudeau isn’t from the once-Confederate South, after all, like Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, also discovered to have worn blackface. (And funny how Trudeau didn’t own up to his own offenses when the Northam revelations emerged earlier this year.) His father, Pierre Trudeau, who engineered social revolution as Canada’s PM from 1968 to 1984 (with one brief interruption), grew up with family oil wealth and then became a Marxist. His mother, daughter of a left-leaning member of Ottawa’s parliament herself, was an infamous jet-setting libertine in her heyday.

So the “place of privilege” to which Trudeau refers is no right-wing locale. Trudeau is saying he’s privileged because of his ethnicity. And that “massive blind spot” from which those who share Trudeau’s racial proffile supposedly suffer can be compared to the fantasy world shortcomings of black athletes in the mind of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ general manager who claimed on national TV in 1987 that blacks “may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager,” for which the Dodgers wasted little time firing him.

This race is disposed toward putting shoe polish on its face; that race can’t fill out a line-up card. The blind spot isn’t due to wealth or social status but color of skin, according to Trudeau — an absurd notion as ugly and condemnable as any other racist belief.

Indeed, little in terms of logic separates it from the Nazis’ 1935 Nuremberg Laws, under which only those racially classified as Deutschblütiger enjoyed the privilege of Reich citizenship.

Censorship And A Cancerous New Racism

All that said, the gloating is misplaced as the masquerade costume police pounce on Trudeau, who has given Canadians plenty of better reasons to vote against his party. Dressing as a swarthy sheik or as Othello usually falls into the category not of racism but of innocent, if irreverent, reveling, and most of those piling on know it.

Somehow we never see the same outrage over costumes depicting clerics. And if some politician is now found to have spent a Halloween night in college suited up as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, don’t hold your breath waiting for him to be ostracized for his “massive blind spot” of insensitivity to the handicapped.

Who judges what crosses the line into offensiveness? Will it be like the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s much-ridiculed definition of pornography in 1964 — “I know it when I see it”?

Britain’s Monty Python comedy troupe has always been pretty far to the left in its iconoclastic humor. Shall we take to burning DVDs of its hilarious 1969 “Our Eamonn” skit, in which the late Graham Chapman’s entire body is painted black, he’s dressed in full African tribal regalia, and he speaks pidgin English?

Or how about the 1970 “Sisters At Heart” Christmas episode of “Bewitched,” whose story was written by a 10th grade English class at Thomas Jefferson High School in South Central Los Angeles, and in which the show’s white cast all wear blackface in service of the episode’s anti-bigotry moral? It won a special Emmy, and sponsor Oscar Mayer arranged for the show’s left-wing activist star Elizabeth Montgomery to film an introduction declaring that the tale embodied “the spirit of Christmas” and was “filled with truth.” Must that be cast into the bonfire too?

We might well live to see the effective banning not only of D.W. Griffith’s Klan-friendly 1915 epic “Birth of a Nation,” but of old classic Disney and Looney Tunes cartoons containing anything that can be interpreted as a racial element. What of Orson Welles’ 1951 film of Othello, or Olivier’s in 1965, both acclaimed productions? Or Fred Astaire as Mr. Bojangles in 1936’s “Swing Time”? The day will likely come when Amazon and YouTube (or whatever eventually replaces these services) will work with politically-correct government forces to prevent you from owning physical copies, or watching online versions, of any such cinematic jewels.

But the censorship implications are secondary. In June, a white male animal rights extremist intruded on stage as Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris was appearing at a event in San Francisco. Black ex-Obama campaign aide and MoveOn strategist Karine Jean-Pierre, who was sitting with Harris, recounted the incident on MSNBC two days later as “a white man with all of his privilege comes on stage and steps into our personal space.”

Would the assailant have been less dangerous absent all that supposed privilege from his skin color and sex? Is it because his father was a socialist from oil money that Trudeau was apparently a serial blackface dresser? Or was it his uncommonly bad judgment, plus some deep psychological issues, perhaps? If a reporter or two out there tried, they likely could find a few people who have worn racially offensive costumes who possess no financial or social privilege whatsoever, and might even be dirt poor.

Instead of feeding this truly cancerous new racism it has spawned, the left might want to heed some famed words from someone it claims as a hero. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Martin Luther King Jr. said as he looked out at the hundreds of thousands assembled on the National Mall in 1963.

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Thomas McArdle

Tom McArdle @MacArdghail, longtime Senior Writer for Investor's Business Daily, was a White House Speechwriter for President George W. Bush, National Political Reporter for Washington political columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Managing Editor of Human Events, and has worked as a writer for CNN and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. His work has appeared in National Review, the American Spectator, The Hill, the Washington Examiner, Newsmax, and the National Catholic Register. He has appeared on Fox News and numerous talk radio programs. He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, M. Stanton Evans' National Journalism Center in Washington, Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, and at 17 was one of Curtis Sliwa's original "Magnificent 13" Guardian Angels.

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