Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate the Chicks. They’re bright! They’re glib! They love America! I’m sure they’re lots of fun at parties.
I don’t hate them. I just hate what they write. The Chicks are poster children for White Privilege in America because they remain blind to the very idea of white privilege.
The Chicks’ column appearing in today’s Indy Star, “Standing Up For American Exceptionalism,” is a classic case of jingoism and pandering to a smug white audience that thinks brown-skinned people should just get over it. The piece showcases the Chicks’ elementary-school vision of America as a place where we’re all supposed to leave our heritage at the border and blend into a melting pot—which, I assume, means we should all eat at Applebee’s and enjoy the music of Journey.
What the Chicks forget is that a melting pot changes when you add new ingredients. Your New England clam chowder is going to taste a lot different when you add chorizo and yams and curry powder; in fact, you probably shouldn’t call it clam chowder anymore.
But that’s apparently what the Chicks want. They’re all about the curry powder, sure. They just don’t want it to change the taste of their dish. See, they want to keep it separate.
The Chicks also forget that the “American” culture they’re so afraid of losing is white culture. They’re not asking all of us to be something greater together. They’re asking blacks and Latinos to jump into the pot and shut up.
Their screed really goes off the rails when they start quoting former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm (a Democrat! Sort of!). Lamm once gave a speech about how multiculturalism would destroy America by encouraging us to celebrate our differences (curry powder, jalapeños) rather than our similarities (comfortable shoes, the Eagles).
And then? Dear god:
Then, in that plan to destroy America, Lamm said he’d next make the fastest growing demographic group the least educated, unassimilated and most antagonistic to the wider population. That demographic would then be convinced, through the “cult of victimology” that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. A “grievance industry” would be created. The word “racist” would be used to shut down conversation.
Just whom do we imagine the Chicks are talking about here?
If you have any doubt, you might want to read that again.
This is classic victim-blaming. After being kidnapped, enslaved, segregated, ghettoized, and marginalized for centuries by an overwhelming majority, people of color are supposed to forget their heritage—forget themselves—and become part of the Borg.
And then just shut up about it. Just pretend that none of that stuff ever happened, that “racism” is all in the past, if it ever happened at all.
Ironically, lots of people on the Chicks’ side of the debate are screaming for a different kind of exceptionalism this morning. They’re pissed that South Carolina legislators voted to take down the flag they consider a symbol of their (white) Southern Heritage. They’re telling us that, by taking down the flag, we’re disrespecting their ancestors, most of whom didn’t actually own slaves, but fought to defend the rights of rich Southern landowners to own other human beings, nonetheless.
Those ancestors, btw, were fighting against the melting pot. They didn’t want any of that African seasoning in their soup.
Today’s Confederate flag defenders are a problem, sure, but they’re not the problem. They’re easy to spot.
In so many ways, the Chicks are what’s wrong with America today. They wave a banner of sassy conservative fun and lob smarm grenades into the public arena. They’re the kinds of people who have never for one second of their lives considered themselves to be racist—because they’re true believers in a melted-up, colorblind (white) America. It’s racism disguised as patriotism; if you disagree, you hate America.
Or maybe you’re just one of those people the Chicks label “do-gooders spewing heartfelt nonsense about inclusion and multiculturalism and diversity.”
Unfortunately for the Chicks, the America we learned about in fifth grade was a noble idea, not a reality. The American Idea was always exceptional. The reality has been something less.
Is it any wonder Americans are hated in so many places around the world? How do you feel about people who think they’re better than you—and tell you that, if you want to get along, you’d better blend in?