“By his logic he should be quiet, even if some minorities would agree with him.”
A liberal journalist railing against the purportedly undue influence conferred on the opinions of elite white men is being accused of hypocrisy following the unveiling of his own extremely privileged background.
“White men have never made up the majority of the US population, and yet from the country’s beginnings they have made up most of its political decision-makers,” wrote The Guardian’s Nathan Robinson in a Monday op-ed titled, “Rich white men rule America. How much longer will we tolerate that?”
Robinson, an avowed socialist and editor in chief of the progressive Current Affairs magazine, claimed that the Constitution is itself an “outrageously undemocratic document” that binds people to a “set of procedural rules that were made without the input of women, African Americans or native people.” And, according to Robinson, those rules have “been very effective at keeping the American populace from exercising power.”
The Senate with its overrepresentation of affluent white men, who hold 71 seats, is problematic, Robinson argued – as is the Supreme Court, which “consists of just nine people, all of whom went to Harvard or Yale and two-thirds of whom are men.”
Robinson, an alumnus of Yale Law School and a doctoral student in sociology and social policy at Harvard, opined that the “implications here are extreme”: the will of the majority is being circumvented by the privileged few.
“What matters is the opinion of nine elites, in many cases appointed by presidents who did not win the popular vote,” he averred.
But, as social media commenters and fellow journalists pointed out, Robinson by his own definition is unquestionably one of those “elites” whose opinions he believes need to be cast aside. In a 2017 interview with The Ringer, the U.K.-born son of an international corporate training firm employee revealed he moved to wealthy Sarasota, Florida at five years old and has kept his British accent out of a “a stubborn fear of sounding American that began the moment I first arrived here.”
“The author of this piece is a white male Yale alum who is doing a PhD in social policy at Harvard,” Quillette founding editor Claire Lehmann observed in a reply to Robinson’s Guardian op-ed.
Lehmann’s Quillette colleague, Jonathan Kay, made a more visual appeal to highlight the irony of Robinson’s argument:
— Jonathan Kay (@jonkay) May 21, 2019
“Yeah but I’m sure he only aspires to be an influential rich white man so he can save the world from other rich white men. The white savior hustle,” quipped New York Times Opinion contributor Clay Routledge.
Robinson weighed in on the controversy by dismissing the notion that his background discredited his perspective.
“not sure i understand why that invalidates the argument,” he said.
It's really strange how others co-opt other people's identity into their self-loathing issues. Also ironic because he's by default uplifting his own voice. By his logic he should be quiet, even if some minorities would agree with him.
— Desi-Rae Thinking (@desiraethinking) May 21, 2019
But Desi-Rae, a cultural commentator and YouTube personality, suggested that the internal logic of Robinson’s argument did in fact invalidate his position.
“It’s really strange how others co-opt other people’s identity into their self-loathing issues. Also ironic because he’s by default uplifting his own voice. By his logic he should be quiet, even if some minorities would agree with him,” she wrote.