It would be hard to improve on Michael Parenti’s little 3-minute talk (which ends with a hilarious joke most of us can really identify with).
The clip centers on sexual and gender identity, but I’ve always found that some of the most shameless practitioners of “oppression olympics” are conservative white people. The “Irish Slaves” hoax is a good example of oppression olympics. Last month, the conservative mayor of Clark New Jersey told a group of Black Lives Matter protesters that his Italian American grandparents faced the same kind of racism in the early part of the 20th Century that African Americans do today. As someone whose name ends in an “ski” I could easily point to the hostility many elite liberals feel against East Europeans, who they blame for Hillary Clinton not being the first female President, and say “do you see. I face racism too.” But that would be absurd.
Nevertheless, Parenti pretty much nails the issue. Outside of any kind of class politics, talking about oppressed identities usually winds up being about the question of “how many black women can we get on the board at Goldman Sachs” instead of “how can we abolish Goldman Sachs? Barack Obama was President for 8 years and did little or nothing to reign in the police or dismantle the enormous stockpiles of weapons in the hands of white supremacists. Bill Clinton actually did a lot more. At least he went after neo-Nazi and militia groups instead of inviting racist cops to a “beer summit.” Needless to say that when Joe Biden chooses a woman as his Vice Presidential candidate it’s not going to end sexism. If it’s a black woman it’s not going to end racism.
On the other hand, if Gretchen Whitmer or Kamala Harris or whoever Biden chooses to be his successor learns from Obama’s mistakes and actually goes after Wall Street and the gun lobby, it might actually weaken racism and sexism. I suppose that at this point that’s the best we can hope for. Let’s hope that President Whitmer, Harris, or whoever she winds up being uses the power of the Federal Government to go after racist police departments like Ferguson. Sadly, I fear that by the time we get Medicare for All, if we ever get it, I’m going to be old enough for actual Medicare.
Final Note: I think Michael Parenti is better than Chomsky so call me a “tankie” if you want.