Kagan, Buchanan And Miss America: The Latest From The Identity Politics Fun House

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Last week, Pat Buchanan did what Pat Buchanan tends to do: He penned another muscular defense of the White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, that oppressed affinity group that is beset on all sides by more colorful and confusing races and religions. (If you missed it, you can still buy Buchanan’s 2001 book, Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country And Civilization.) In particular, Buchanan was bemoaning the total insensitivity President Obama showed for the needs of mainstream Protestants by nominating Elena Kagan, a Jewish woman from New York, to the Supreme Court.

If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this the Democrats’ idea of diversity? But while leaders in the black community may be upset, the folks who look more like the real targets of liberal bias are white Protestants and Catholics, who still constitute well over half of the U.S. population. Not in living memory has a Democratic president nominated an Irish, Italian or Polish Catholic, though these ethnic communities once gave the party its greatest victories in the cities and states of the North. What happened to the party of the Daleys, Rizzos and Rostenkowskis? And not in nearly half a century has a Democratic president nominated a white Protestant or white Catholic man or woman.

Dave Weigel seems to get it right when he characterizes the column as “a pretty typical mix of bad faith and racial scaremongering.” (Back in 1971, Buchanan wrote an memo to Richard Nixon calling for more white ethnic minorities on the court.) Then more typical reactions came forth. Abraham Foxman, of the Anti-Defamation League, promptly called Buchanan “a recidivist anti-Semite.”

I wonder if Foxman will have any comment on the latest bit of identity-politics paranoia from Daniel Pipes, the conservative scholar of “Militant Islam,” who is suspicious of the fact that beautiful Muslim women are getting recognition for being beautiful. Exhibit A is, of course, Miss Michigan, Rima Fakih, who won the Miss USA Beauty Pageant last night, just before declaring that she was going to eat a pizza to celebrate. But there are apparently others–indeed, a pattern!–like Hammasa Kohistani (Miss England 2006), Sarah Mendley (Miss Nottingham 2005) and Nora Ali (America’s Junior Miss 2007). Pipes, who has previously written that “All Muslims, unfortunately, are suspect,” feels his ears tingling.

They are all attractive, but this surprising frequency of Muslims winning beauty pageants makes me suspect an odd form of affirmative action.

This is not an Onion parody of Daniel Pipes. It is instead, as Weigel might put it, a pretty typical mix of bad faith and ethnic scaremongering. No doubt Foxman will stay silent on this one, while CAIR considers whether to cry foul.