President Clinton was, as we all know, the nation's first black president. Now Newsweek has declared Obama to be America's first gay president which means the first gay president will probably have to settle for being called the first alien president and, after that, the first alien president will be out of luck.
Last year New York Magazine put Obama in a Kippa and stuck him on the cover as the "First Jewish President." Before that he had already been dubbed the "First Asian-American President", cementing his appeal as all things to all people. And why not, when we live in a wonderful time when anyone can be anything they want.
Elizabeth Warren, with her strong northern European features, and an ancestor who participated in the "Trail of Tears", can be recognized as a "Woman of Color," and, when challenged on her claim, the media rolls out a dozen pieces suggesting that Cherokee ancestry is some sort of vague unstructured concept that can't be quantified with rigid standards such as actually having a Cherokee ancestor.
Over in Florida, that infamous white menace, George Zimmerman is standing trial and if the trial doesn't go Holder's way, the attorney general will charge him with a hate crime. In a saner world, there would be more chances of Holder going to jail for the mass murder of Latinos as part of a plot to subvert the Bill of Rights; than there would be of a Latino man being lynched as a white racist.
But we don't live in a sane world, we live in a post-racial world, where everything is racial and nothing is racial. Where race is meaningful and meaningless, everywhere and nowhere, where everyone who wants to be someone has a victim identity in their wallet and an essay on the plight of their people.
The age of Obama is truly a post-racial one, not in the sense that race doesn't matter, it actually matters more than ever, but that it no longer exists as a concrete identity. Race, gender and sexual orientation are just variables that you adopt if you like, but once you've adopted them, then you insist that they are an inescapable part of you and that you are one of the oppressed.
Forget being famous for fifteen minutes, that's trite in the age of YouTube and Reality TV where anyone can be famous if they really want to. We live in a country where anyone can be black, gay or Cherokee and have a full time career resisting white oppression, a career that pays surprisingly well, despite living in a nation in the thrall of the Caucasian heteronormative patriarchy.
As a nation we are always making history. Not the old-fashioned kind of history of annexing frontiers, winning wars or going to the moon. Instead we make history by shoving some member of a minority group up to a new office. Get a black governor, an Eskimo attorney general and a transgender secretary of defense together to make some history. Have we had a gay Asian president in a wheelchair yet? No. Then we have to get on it right away. History doesn't make itself.
Like jaded foodies, our elites' idea of history is constantly ordering more exotic dishes from the menu of multiculturalism. This election the American people will be asked to decide whether it's more historic to reelect a half-black sorta Muslim or a sorta Latino Mormon. We had the Obama last time we went out, what if we try a Mitt? But next time we need to try something really different to remind us that we are a truly great nation because we elect people of different backgrounds to show the power of our American dream.
Political identity is propaganda. We'll never have that post-racial society that politicians occasionally talk about because racial tensions and the promise of a post-racial society are just too useful to those same politicians. Until recently politicians did their best to consolidate a united national identity, but in the last half-century they discovered what urban machine politicians always knew, that there is more power in dividing people than in uniting them.
Identity is arbitrary and politicians know how to wear a dozen faces. Obama is a Christian in America, but a Muslim when he visits the Muslim world. Elizabeth Warren was a Cherokee on campus, but a paleface on the campaign trail. And their enemies are always white, even when they're as brown as George Zimmerman.
The liberal establishment is white, but wears blackface as often as it can. It pretends to be black, female, gay and any other group it can, even though its actual composition is fairly close to its conservative opposite numbers. And both are in their own way representative of America, not in the crude quota way, but in the actual reality of the country.
It's not race that matters, but the perception of race, the narrative of race, the baggage of race and the ways that all of these can be transformed into tools of power. We are not a country divided by race, we are a nation divided by the exploiters of race. It's not class, race or gender that divides us, but a professional class of dividers who maintain power by maintaining divisiveness.
Race, gender and ethnicity are political codes. Everyone can become an oppressor by being one of the oppressed, even if they're actually one of the oppressors. All the oppressors are oppressed because it justifies the oppression that they inflict on others. All the innocent are guilty and all the guilty are innocent. The sins of the slave owning great-great-grandfather are passed down to his descendants, but no one is responsible for sending an entire nation into the chains of debt slavery.
The oppressive system needs to recruit the professionally oppressed to justify its power. Most accusations of bigotry and political incorrectness boil down to opposition to a system and its right to protect the oppressed with oppression and the discriminated against with discrimination. The system isn't out to fight racism, it needs racism to live. It needs a divided population to turn to government to arbitrate all its disputes. If racism did not exist, the government would have to invent it so that it could wield unlimited power over individuals, businesses and entire states.
We have a government that aspires to be all things to all people led by men and women who aspire to be all things to all people. Transcendental figures who promise to heal the wounds that they have inflicted on us, even while gouging them deeper, who pledge to teach us to be better people if we ignore everything that they do, and who are always just like us-- even when they are nothing like us.
In the post-racial America that is deep in debt, yet having endless conversations about race, you can be anything you want, so long as there isn't a regulation against it. You can change your gender and your sexual orientation, you can be a Cherokee or a Kenyan, you can be a historic victim achiever who breaks through the ceiling of history to make everyone feel proud of themselves for not being prejudiced.
Just so long as you're a liberal.