[This post has been updated. See ADDENDUM below]
I almost (but not quite) feel sorry for Democrats, liberals, and New York Times reporters (but is there a difference?) such as the one who wrote this article today. I mean, think of the stress they must experience arguing on one day that it is racist to refuse to create voting districts with a substantial majority of minority voters and then, on another day, arguing the opposite, that it is racist to create school attendance zones with a substantial majority of minority students.
Add to that the stress of making a principled argument for deference to the school assignment policies designed by local officials on one day, at least in one or two cities (Seattle and Louisville come to mind) only to be followed, the next day, with making a principled argument for the opposite principle, calling for federal intervention to overturn the school assignment policies of local officials.
Indeed, the stress must have pushed some of these worthies beyond the breaking point, since in the case of the anti-local version of the above argument they are even willing, as cited in the NYT article linked above, to rely on legislation (the No Child Left Behind act) created by the hated Bush administration.
On the other hand, perhaps I minimize the tolerance for brazenness and exaggerate the effect of inconsistency on the liberal mind. As I pointed out here,
Once it became clear that super-majorities of blacks were not necessary to elect at least a significant number of blacks, the Democrats slowly emerged from the woodwork and began to argue … that herding too many blacks into “majority-minority” districts was racist, smacking of apartheid. At the same time, however, they argued that placing too few blacks in a district was also racist. To the Democrats, “too many” means more than enough to assure the election of a Democrat, and “too few” means not enough. By some cosmic co-incidence, the Democrats implicitly argue, that precise balance is what the law requires.
As I say, perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps having principles that are endlessly elastic reduces stress.
ADDENDUM [18 Sept.]
One of the reasons I have taken so many opportunities to make fun of the contemporary left’s aversion to principle and hence to principled argument (see, for example, my many posts on Stanley Fish, the philosopher of anti-principle) is that, well, there are so many opportunities, and it’s so easy — like, as I said here and here, “shooting [f]ish in a barrel.”
But perhaps I exaggerate the left’s antipathy to principle. Jane Hamsher’s post on Firedoglake today provides a useful reminder that, from the heady days of the Popular Front until today, the left has remained steadfastly faithful to the transcendent principle of “solidarity” and its slogan, “no enemies on the left.” Praising Hillary for refusing to distance herself from MoveOn.org’s “betrayus” ad, Hamsher writes:
It’s just such a basic, elemental principle at play here — you don’t help the right wing out by repeating their talking points, ever.
“Ever.” That means, of course, even when those “talking points” embody truth, justice, and the American way. Hmm. Maybe that’s why the left so vociferously opposes the idea that everyone should be treated without regard to race, creed, or color.