by Victor Davis Hanson | June 30, 2016 12:05 am
Following the Brexit, Europe may witness even more plebiscites against the undemocratic European Union throughout the continent.
The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations and more redistributive taxes.
But Euro-managers are able to navigate around their own injunctions, enjoying private schools for their children; generous public pay, retirement packages and perks; frequent carbon-spewing jet travel; homes in non-diverse neighborhoods; and profitable revolving-door careers between government and business.
The Western elite classes, both professedly liberal and conservative, square the circle of their privilege with politically correct sermonizing. They romanticize the distant “other” — usually immigrants and minorities — while condescendingly lecturing the middle and working classes, often the losers in globalization, about their lack of sensitivity.
On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has developed a curious habit of talking down to Americans about their supposedly reactionary opposition to rampant immigration, affirmative action, multiculturalism and political correctness — most notably in his caricatures of the purported “clingers” of Pennsylvania.
Yet Obama seems uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of living out what he envisions for others. He prefers golfing with celebrities to bowling. He vacations in tony Martha’s Vineyard rather than returning home to his Chicago mansion. His travel entourage is royal and hardly green. And he insists on private prep schools for his children rather than enrolling them in the public schools of Washington, D.C., whose educators he so often shields from long-needed reform.
In similar fashion, grandees such as Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos do not live what they profess. They often lecture supposedly less sophisticated Americans on their backward opposition to illegal immigration. But both live in communities segregated from those they champion in the abstract.
The Clintons often pontificate about “fairness” but somehow managed to amass a personal fortune of more than $100 million by speaking to and lobbying banks, Wall Street profiteers and foreign entities. The pay-to-play rich were willing to brush aside the insincere, pro forma social justice talk of the Clintons and reward Hillary and Bill with obscene fees that would presumably result in lucrative government attention.
Consider the recent Orlando tragedy for more of the same paradoxes. The terrorist killer, Omar Mateen — a registered Democrat, proud radical Muslim and occasional patron of gay dating sites — murdered 49 people and wounded even more in a gay nightclub. His profile and motive certainly did not fit the elite narrative that unsophisticated right-wing American gun owners were responsible because of their support for gun rights.
No matter. The Obama administration and much of the media refused to attribute the horror in Orlando to Mateen’s self-confessed radical Islamist agenda. Instead, they blamed the shooter’s semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a purported climate of hate toward gays.
Many Americans were bewildered by the logic. It’s reasonable to conclude that the shooter was conflicted over his religion’s strict prohibitions about his lifestyle — and especially the American brand of tolerance as exemplified by the nightclub. Mateen’s immigrant father from Afghanistan is a crude homophobe who had praised the murderous Taliban. Mateen somehow had cleared all background checks and on at least two occasions had been interviewed and dismissed by the FBI.
In sum, elites ignored the likely causes of the Orlando shooting: the appeal of ISIS-generated hatred to some young, second-generation radical Muslim men living in Western societies, and the politically correct inability of Western authorities to short-circuit that clear-cut connection.
Instead, the establishment all but blamed Middle America for supposedly being anti-gay and pro-gun.
In both the U.S. and Britain, such politically correct hypocrisy is superimposed on highly regulated, highly taxed and highly governmentalized economies that are becoming ossified and stagnant.
The tax-paying middle classes, who lack the romance of the poor and the connections of the elite, have become convenient whipping boys of both in order to leverage more government social programs and to assuage the guilt of the elites who have no desire to live out their utopian theories in the flesh.
America’s version of the British antidote to elite hypocrisy is the buffoonish populist Donald Trump. Like the architects of Brexit, he arose not from what he was for, but what he said he was against.
(Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of “The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern” You can reach him by e-mailing [email protected].)
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