Vice President Kamala Harris surely thought her throat-clearing expression of deference to intersectional theology was harmless. She may have crossed a line, though, when she tried to be so inclusive that she accidentally articulated the exclusionary principles animating the modern left.
“[T]here is a clear line that runs throughout our administration’s work: We are focused on the most vulnerable,” Harris said of the Biden administration in a Tuesday speech addressing the White House’s efforts to combat human trafficking. “And based on my experience, the most vulnerable are women and girls; racial and ethnic minorities; LGBTQI-plus people; indigenous people; people with disabilities, migrants, and children in the foster-care system.”
A charitable interpretation of Harris’s remarks would attribute them only to the administration’s policies around human traffickers. The vice president was, after all, only expanding on what the Justice Department describes as the most at-risk demographics. And if this administration hadn’t explicitly embedded “issues of racial equity into everything it does,” many Americans would likely reach that inoffensive conclusion. But by identifying only at-risk demographics and failing to articulate what the DOJ defines as the most important factors that attract traffickers—specifically, family and community ties and economic circumstances—Harris likely reinforced a persecution complex that is dismantling the Democratic Party’s hold on political power.
What demographics did Harris identify as the subjects of the administration’s “focus?” Women, who make up over 50 percent of the country’s population; racial and ethnic minorities and the indigenous, who account for roughly 40 percent of the population; migrants, who account for approximately 14 percent of U.S. residents; Twenty-six percent of the country suffers from what the CDC defines as “some type of disability,” and, according to Gallup, 5.6 percent of all Americans self-identify as LGBT. Even accounting for overlap across these often-indistinct demographic categories, Harris has conspicuously excluded from the administration’s “focus” only one particularly odious demographic: straight white men.
Again, we could afford to ignore this if the administration’s oversight was related to human trafficking alone. But Harris’s display of rhetorical contempt for this subset of the American population has been backed up with contemptuous policy.
Last year, federal courts determined that the Small Business Administration’s plan to disburse Covid relief funding that prioritized applicants “who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias” was nakedly discriminatory and unconstitutional. White farmers across the country sued the administration last year over the provision of relief funds that were only supposed to go to Americans of minority descent. The merits of their claim were similarly incontestable. Democrats farther down the chain of command have also communicated their racial hostilities. In Marin County, California, elected officials tried to provide a basic-income stipend only to “mothers of color” who face “covert racial discrimination.” In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot sought to repair race relations by refusing to talk to white journalists.
Do Democrats think white Americans—men, in particular—don’t notice their exclusion?
Among those who believe rectifying America’s racial disparities demands that every institution reflects the demographic breakdowns in the U.S. census (yes, really), regardless of individual preferences or aptitudes, it is the power disparity white men enjoy that so rankles. One study that fuels the frustrations of equity activists found that white men hold a disproportionate number of elected offices despite being just 30 percent of the population. That study, however, attributed this disparity to the power of incumbency, not structural racial disadvantages. Elsewhere in American society where competition is less constrained—in the world of commerce, for example—those advantages disappear. For example, women and minorities now make up the majority of business owners in this country.
It’s easy to see why a combination of rhetorical hostility from America’s political leaders, discriminatory policies, and the natural evolution of American social dynamics are conspiring to saddle white men with a persecution complex. Easy, that is, unless your politics demands that you blind yourself to it.