Friday, December 5, 2008

A Disappointing Resumption Of Identity Politics

Some heralded Barack Obama's election as the 44th President of the United States as a death knell for racial/ethnic identity politics in the country--and that has turned out to be quite naive.

Talking heads in the mainstream media are already complaining about the skin tone and ancestry of Obama's cabinet nominees. Writing for CNN, Ruben Navarrette Jr. whines:
This week, President-elect Barack Obama unveiled his national security team and continued the sorry tradition of presidents overlooking Latinos as they fill the top-tier of the Cabinet appointments. The four big posts have been filled, and there is not a Latino anywhere in the mix.

Even liberals who like to think of the Gonzales appointment as a kind of failed social experiment because it lets them off the hook for future stabs at diversity would be hard-pressed to suggest that they couldn't do better and that Obama couldn't find a single Latino to name, oh I don't know, secretary of state.

You would have thought Bill Richardson was a shoo-in for that job, with his gold-plated resume: Seven-term member of Congress; special envoy to North Korea, Iraq, Cuba and Sudan; U.N. ambassador; energy secretary; New Mexico governor and five-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering cease-fires and negotiating the release of hostages. What a slacker. I'm surprised Richardson never got around to securing peace in the Middle East.

Continue reading.

This is nothing short of ridiculous. I care far more about executive appointees' knowledge and experience than I do any physical characteristics about them--and so should everyone else. Diversity in top-level officials is important because it is evidence of decreasing problems with all kinds of discrimination; however, criticizing Obama for not following some sort of absurd quota system annoys me immensely.

Speaking as a gay man, I honestly don't care whether any top administration officials are gay. I just want to live in a world where an individual's sexual orientation has no effect on his or her chances of obtaining any sort of job. There's a big difference. Anyone who thinks token appointments made for the purpose of placating minorities necessarily represent a solution to the problem of unfair discrimination in American society is not particularly intellectually sophisticated.

But I guess all this nonsense is just one more reason I'm not a Democrat.

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