Want diversity? Then you should have elected the white guy. Ironic, ain’t it?

Well, I’ll probably get some heat for that headline, from irony-deprived people who get as put off by it as I did when I heard about the “Don’t blame me; I voted for the white guy” bumper stickers after the 2008 election.

But I couldn’t resist; there’s just so much ironic goofiness inherent in the complaints that Nikki “Haley’s Cabinet Appointments Lack Diversity.” As the official Democratic Party release says:

COLUMBIA– South Carolina Democrats criticized Governor Nikki Haley for turning a blind eye to diversity in the wake of her final cabinet appointment.  Haley, who this morning appointed Duane Parrish to lead South Carolina’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, only appointed one African-American candidate in forming her cabinet.  Worse still, says the party, that appointee– Columbia attorney Lynne Rogers—will have her role seriously diminished if the Governor’s plan to consolidate the agency Rogers will lead with another agency is successful.

“Shame on Nikki Haley,”said South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler. “The faces of this state’s government ought to bear some resemblance to the faces of the South Carolinians they will govern.  African-Americans make up nearly a third of South Carolina’s population, but Governor Haley has willfully ignored them in forming her government, and she”s fighting for an agency merger proposal that will only further marginalize a high percentage of her constituents.  We deserve a Governor who takes all South Carolinians into consideration when she makes big decisions, and we need a government that reflects all South Carolinians.”

See how that was just chock full of the automatic, obligatory, self-righteous, ritualistic phrases? The kinds of phrases of which we used to say at the newspaper, in the days when we were on the old Atex mainframe system, “She must have that on a Save/Get key.”

Of course, you want to say to people who complain about such things, If you wanted someone who gave a damn about your complaint, you should have voted for Vincent Sheheen. But that’s the thing, of course: All the people complaining DID vote for Vincent Sheheen. (Or if they didn’t, they’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.) In fact, that’s the real problem they have here, not the demographic makeup of Nikki’s Cabinet.

Poor Duane Parrish. As the last appointee, HE’s the guy whose appointment announcement gets overshadowed by the hand-wringing

Duane Parrish: A White Guy Too Far?

over “diversity.” It’s not his fault, he was just a White Guy Too Far.

There’s a subtext here, and that’s the part that appeals to my sense of the absurd. While Carol Fowler and the Legislative Black Caucus know better, and shouldn’t be a bit surprised (and are not), there are other innocent practitioners of Identity Politics out there who actually thought it meant something — as a milestone for all women and minorities — that an Indian-American woman was elected governor. You heard all the claptrap about how “historic” her inauguration was and all a couple of weeks back.

As you know, it completely befuddles me that people can believe in this identity stuff — that a woman can get excited for another woman’s success because she IS a woman and she thinks that means something to her and to all women. Or the same thing with black folks, or Sikhs, or what have you. I don’t understand it because, well, we white guys have no such delusions, near as I can tell. Oh, sure, there are atavistic racists who get all bent out of shape when another white guy gets done wrong, or when they imagine such a thing has happened. But I don’t understand that, either, and near as I can tell, 99 percent of us just really don’t feel any identification with each other. One of us does well, and we understand that THAT GUY did well. Good for him, but what good does that do ME? One of us gets dumped on, and we think, Too bad for that guy, but that’s his problem. (Insensitive jerks, ain’t we?)

Or perhaps I’m projecting here. Perhaps I’m making the same mistake that the Identity Politickers make, in thinking there is such a thing as a characteristic way of looking at the world particular to this or that demographic. (Hmmm. Do you think?)

The thing is, Nikki Haley got elected because she was the Republican. And she got the Republican nomination because she had done the most to charm the Tea Party, and this was their year. Period.

And here’s the ultimate irony in this: Nikki Haley, the great Symbol of Women’s Success, is highly unlikely to sit up nights worrying about her administration “lacking diversity.” For one thing, she’s not ideologically inclined to do so. Then there’s the fact that, frankly, she gets a pass because, well, she’s a chick. And a minority. (In fact, she’s SUCH a minority that it’s not even fair. Her minority status leaves black folks and Hispanics in the dust, looking almost like a majority. She’s just et up with moral advantage in the identity politics department.)

Oh, she’d probably rather have her Cabinet praised for “looking like South Carolina” than not — everybody likes a pat on the back — but she can get by without it, I expect.

You want somebody who’s going to sit up nights worrying because Leon Howard was offended at having to shake all those white people’s hands (see the quote; I’m not making this up), get yourself a white guy. Doesn’t have to be Vincent Sheheen, although he’s a very nice and thoughtful white guy, and they’re the most susceptible. But even your less sensitive white guys are likely to worry about “lack of diversity” — or at least, worry about looking like they worry about it. To some extent.

But Nikki? She’s immune. You want to make somebody feel bad, go pick on a white oppressor.

9 thoughts on “Want diversity? Then you should have elected the white guy. Ironic, ain’t it?

  1. Doug Ross

    I guess the expiration date on the kinder and gentler rhetoric from the Democratic Party was about two weeks.

    Is Haley allowed to pick the people she thinks will do the best job or is that a secondary requirement? And how many African Americans were applying for the jobs and would be willing to openly state their support for a Republican? It goes both ways.

    To think that Sheheen would have appointed more blacks just because they were black isn’t exactly a positive…

  2. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    In a state with a population of approximately 40% blacks and 50% women, it doesn’t seem as though it would be that unreasonable to expect a slightly better mix. Of course you don’t hire someone solely based on demographics, but, really, whatup when you somehow end up so out of kilter?

    I do not for one minute believe that Sheheen would appointed anyone because he or she was black or any other demographic. I do believe his universe of candidates would have included sufficient quantities of the plentiful highly qualified minority and female candidates that several more would have gotten picked!

  3. jfx

    Shame on Carol Fowler for dribbling the same old tired, impotent silliness. Dear Carol: They won. You lost. Haley gets to pick who she wants. If she wants a cabinet full of white male Ayn Rand groupies, so be it. Elections, consequences, yada yada yada. I liked Sheheen, and don’t think much of Haley. But at this point, I’m starting to like Carol Fowler even less. That woman has got to go. SC Democrats, want to get serious about positive change? Boot Carol, and boot all this sycophantic poopy-talk.

  4. Ralph Hightower

    I have to wonder.

    1) Did Nikki Haley ask individuals, without their expressing an interest to serve, “Will you be on my cabinet?”

    2) Did Nikki Haley draw from her list of campaign contributors for her short list of cabinet appointees?

    3) Did qualified minorities submit resumes to Nikki Haley’s transition team to serve on her cabinet?

    I think these are valid questions. Nikki Haley is now a state employee as well as her staff. The Governors Office should be able provide an EEOC report about candidates interviewed, hired, etc. relating to the criteria that EEOC wants to know about.

  5. Joanne

    Brad, I’m curious. Not knowing too many people in the business/political world (I teach. I know teenagers and other teachers…), what percentage of Haley’s appointees are South Carolinians?

  6. Joanne

    I think I just got somewhat of an answer from The State article this morning.

    It seems “diversity” is pulling in out-of-staters.

  7. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    FTR, per The State–many of the posts were filled from a pool of one candidate. Why, I wonder….did no one else apply, and if so, why?

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