I can't tell what Protein Wisdom thinks of my brief explanation of how one could make a reasonable case linking Malkin's popularity to her ethnicity and sex. To review, the argument runs as follows:
[For example,] a woman who speaks against "feminism" is presumed to be speaking against her "own interests" and thus receives additional weight ("enhanced standing"). Under this view, Malkin's popularity is partially premised on her position as someone conservatives can point to and say: "Look! We're not racist--some minorities agree with us!"--a status that is interwoven with her status as a woman and minority. And one could then extrapolate that if Malkin didn't provide that particular service to conservatives (IE, being a conservative minority woman), she'd be a non-entity.
I gather he isn't a fan of this particular argument, but I can't tell if he thinks I like it.
Again, reserving judgment on whether/how this applies to Ms. Malkin, I'm sympathetic to this sort of argument because I do believe in standpoint theory. That is, I think the position of an actor has relevance to their comments on a particular issue. Minorities have a different perspective on racism than do whites--it is facile to say that we can gather a comprehensive perspective on racial issues only from talking to white folk (which is why I support diversity in academia and elsewhere). Critics of this view claim that we are rejecting "merit" in favor of "identity politics." I don't see how this is so--if merit (with regard to speech, anyway) is defined as "an opinion which breaks new ground, gives us a more nuanced perspective on a existing issue, or otherwise causes the listener to think and analyze in a new or novel way," then the benefit of the "voice of color" (or other minority) is perfectly meritorious. As Lawrence Blum notes in his superb book "I'm Not a Racist, But..." there are plenty of perfectly reasonable cases where race affects one's merit for a position. For example, if a school created a group dedicated to fostering interracial dialogue and understanding, and 19 of its first 20 members were Latino, it would make perfect sense for the school to try and recruit white and black students to join the club, even if they were less qualified in "other" respects. The reasoning is clear--you can't have interracial dialogue without different races. The goal of the club--the measuring rod by which merit stacks up--is completely intertwined with race. No less of a conservative authority than Judge Richard Posner has acknowledged this. In Wittmer v. Peters, 87 F.3d 916 (7th Cir. 1996), dealing with affirmative action for underrepresented blacks being hired for "Lieutenant" jobs at a boot camp that seeks to rehabilitate convicts, he wrote the following:
The black lieutenant is needed because the black inmates are believed unlikely to play the correctional game of brutal drill sergeant and brutalized recruit unless there are some blacks in authority at the camp. This is not just speculation, but is backed up by expert evidence that the plaintiffs did not rebut....[The experts] opined that the boot camp in Greene County would not succeed in its mission of pacification and reformation with as white a staff as it would have had if a black male had not been appointed to one of the lieutenant slots. For then a security staff less than 6 percent black (4 out of 71), with no male black supervisor, would be administering a program for a prison population almost 70 percent black....
Judge Posner then upheld the preference given to a black candidate for the lieutenant job as constitutional.
Hence, I do believe that the standpoint of a speaker (including, in areas related to racism and racial issues, their race) is relevant to how we evaluate the speech. However, I am disconcerted at the tendency of some on the left to only trumpet certain stories while deriding others--namely, the opinions of minority conservatives.
Malkin's "story," so to speak, is one of minority conservatism. This is a minority story--especially given intersectionality theory. This posits--correctly in my view--that the experience of a double minority is different than the sum of the two minority groups she belongs. For example, the status of a Black Woman is not merely Woman + Black. Similarly, the status of a female minority conservative is not just Female + Minority + Conservative. The simplest reason why this is so is because whereas becoming a conservative by itself means joining a relatively popular and broad group, becoming a minority conservative means being subjected to endless taunts of being an "Uncle Tom" or traitor, accusations (and occasionally, true moments) of being "used" by majority peers, and other hardships. In other words, while my (White) life would not be significantly changed by switching my political affiliation, for a minority, this switch comes with a lot of baggage. Because the tropes associated with "conservative" are contingent upon one's other identities, one can't simply atomize conservatism (or any other identity) and examine independently of the rest. Hence, Malkin's conservatism has to be examined within the context of her being a minority--it can't just be placed under the generic rubric of "conservatism" and thus be easily dismissed.
This blindness amongst leftists to the ways in which they create the very hostile environments they deplore is what lends a germ of truth to statements like this:
Woe be to the average person who dares say a single word that can be construed as racist or sexist. That's now the sole purview of leftist elites to be employed by them as punishment against women and minorities who dare to think for themselves.
Conservatives find themselves frustrated at the seeming double standard of the Critical "Voice of Color" thesis: where minority speech is privileged and exalted--unless it is by conservative minorities. Liberal minority speech is deemed authentic, conservative minority speech is the result of an "impaired consciousness." Who's being the paternalist now?
To sum it up, I believe two things here. 1) It is probably true that some of the value of some conservative minority views comes from the fact that they are minorities and 2) this is perfectly fine--we need to hear the perspectives of conservative minorities as much as we do any other group. Because I believe the voice of minorities is important, I believe the voice of minority conservatives is important. It's that simple.