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The Metapolitics of Resentment

I’ve never addressed the growing (and growing, and growing) pile of evidence that those Duke lacross guys were innocent of the rape charges brought against them. When the story first broke I didn’t write about it, because it was a little tangential to my main interests and because it’s not the sort of thing I was inclined to jump to conclusions about in quasi-print. My inclination in a case like that is to believe the woman, but an investigation was clearly underway. At any rate, events unfolded and I continued to not write about it. The system, it seems to me, pretty much worked. Accusations of the sort that were leveled should be taken seriously and investigated, and innocent people should go free when the evidence doesn’t support charging them with crimes.

For months, however, every time I blog on anything even vaguely race-related, I’m struck by the sheer volume of people who want to respond “what about the Duke lacrosse case?” Well, I think, what about it? Then I read something like this from Victor Davis Hanson who really doesn’t cover these issues either, and it hits me. There’s this huge block of people out there, primarily reasonably prosperous middle-aged middle class white men, who in all genuineness seem to believe that what went down there is emblematic of broad-based social problem. They see the Imus controversy through the same lens — the lens that makes them think the issue here is Al Sharpton or hip-hop. It’s a mentality that believes — deeply and sincerely — that the middle-aged white dude just can’t get a fair shake in this country. Not in this day and age. What with the Sharptons and the feminist bloggers and all. Next thing you know, there’ll probably be dudes marrying dudes, and women and black folk running for president!

And, well, I just don’t know what to say to a mentality like that. I certainly think that lots and lots of people in this country — including, naturally, lots of middle-aged people and lots of white people and lots of male people — do, in fact, have a hard time getting a fair shake in the contemporary United States. But the idea that middle-aged white men as a class are being persecuted, well, well, not so much.

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