There Will Be More Rachel Dolezals
If you don’t know who Rachel Dolezal is, click here.
I can’t even begin to break down the various reactions to this woman. The obvious place to go for many on the right was to begin comparing her to Bruaitlyn Jenner. The obvious place for many blacks to go was mockery, for the most part. Some were genuinely outraged by Dolezal and others were willing to overlook her deception in light of her dedication to the cause. White leftists appear to be waiting for the dust to settle before they can figure out what to think about it.
I can’t say I’m all that shocked by it. I expect to see several more Dolezals as the years go by. It isn’t simply because what she did can be easily compared to what disturbed individuals such as Jenner do, though I do think that the transgender revolution will provide them with the rhetorical tools they need. The real explanation lies in the worldview of millennials. Dolezal is not a millennial herself, but I do see her as a portent of the millennial generation.
I am less disturbed, for instance, by her claim to be black than I am by that claim combined with her claim that she has been the target of hate crimes, abused at the hands of a white stepfather, and a rape victim as well. It is clear that she is not black, highly unlikely that she has ever been the victim of a hate crime (the police aren’t buying her multiple stories), certain that she has a white father (and not a black biological father and white stepfather), and in light of all that, probable that she was never raped either.
She’s not just some random white woman claiming to be a black woman; she is a white woman claiming to be a black intellectual and civil rights activist who has been the victim of racial and sexual violence. She hasn’t just made up a claim about her race, but about her entire history and identity. It’s as if she is living out a character from a fictional story she wrote.
Why do it? It obviously fits into one over-arching narrative of oppression. What defines post-modern leftism is essentially “conflict theory”, the sociological view that society is the sum of its contests between oppressed groups and oppressor groups. It isn’t possible to remain objective and impartial with this view of society; one is either oppressed or an oppressor. Members of the oppressor group – white, male, wealthy, “cis”, what have you – are able to become “allies” of oppressed groups, meaning that they must mindlessly nod along to and parrot whatever the oppressed insist upon (and one must pay close attention, for the narrative changes hourly). But always will they remain oppressors.
This matters, obviously, because to be an oppressor is bad. And even if one becomes an ally, if one’s identity is still aligned with the identity of the oppressor, one will still, by the logic of things, have to regard one’s self as bad. This is probably less so in some oppressed/oppressor dynamics than in others, and probably strongest in the black/white dynamic. This is also a psychologically untenable position. So is the position of “ally” in the new SJW understanding, in which one completely negates their own ideas, opinions and values, or at any rate is forbidden from criticizing the views of an officially oppressed person. Even if, as in the case of Dolezal, their views align 100% with the official narrative they are still part of the oppressor class and have no moral right to even agree too strongly. The “ally” is to be seen and not heard, or heard last.
No one, no matter what they’ve been told about how evil their group is, really wants to put themselves in this self-abasing position.
What to do? How does one obtain the right to speak when one is convinced that their very identity is evil and unworthy of being heard? I think you know: one must change their identity. They must redefine it. They must become the oppressed in every meaningful sense. It is the only way they can live as a whole, complete, and good person. The urge is probably the most overwhelming in those who sincerely agree with the official narrative about oppression and oppressors. As a white woman, all Rachel Dolezal would have ever been was a particularly passionate ally. But she would have never been able to speak the way she has spoken, as a professor, an intellectual, an artist, a public activist, etc.
By this I don’t mean that she wouldn’t have been allowed by others, or even that other leftists would have shunned her – I don’t think she would have been able to bring herself to do it as a white woman whose mind is completely given over to the conflict paradigm. It would have been morally worse, at least for her, for a white woman to go around speaking about the black experience than for her to identify as black and then say what she so desperately wanted to.
And at the root of that desire to become a black public activist and professor, I believe, was a basic desire to be what she thought to be a good person. Is it insane? Absolutely. Is there a logic to it? Absolutely. We will see more of this.
A reminder to the haters: I am only half-white myself. I’m also a libertarian and more of an individualist every day, because it is the only sane and sober response to this tragic madness.