Why the left resorts to identity politics

Where are the white people? I thought they were all about diversity.

There are few political habits sleazier and more pathetic than race-baiting, but you can sort of understand it coming from left-wing lawmakers such as Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas — not that they actually believe it, of course, but that their lack of any real political talent or ideological substance leaves them with little else to work with but racial demagoguery.

Case in point: The New York Daily News reports that Jackson Lee is doubling down on a recent attempt to turn a petty incident on a plane ride, something most well-adjusted people in her position wouldn’t even bother to go public with, into another example of the racism that supposedly permeates American life.

It seems that during a December 18 flight from Houston to Washington DC, there was some sort of mix-up over Jackson Lee and another passenger, Jean-Marie Simon, apparently being booked for the same first-class seat. Jackson Lee was seated first, but upon trying to board Simon was booted to Economy Plus (and given a $500 voucher for the inconvenience).

Simon was supposedly irate on the plane, eventually taking a picture of Jackson Lee and eventually recognizing her, after which she accused United Airlines of giving her rightfully-reserved seat to Jackson Lee because she was a member of Congress. Someone from UA has called her to apologize already, but Simon demands a written apology as well.

Both the Congresswoman and the airline deny that any preferential treatment was sought by or given to Jackson Lee because of her position. In the absence of specific evidence indicating otherwise, this is probably true, and this incident is an open-and-shut case of an irate flyer getting screwed over by airline incompetence and looking for someone to take it out on. It happens.

Alas, Jackson Lee couldn’t content herself with being in the right following a minor dust-up, or being a bit player in one of the millions of stories airline passengers find themselves in every day due to simple incompetence or miscommunication. No, she had to put out a self-serving statement pretending to believe her skin color (as well as that of a black flight attendant) were the real reason she was “targeted”:

Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice. This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry. I understand the airline is working to address the passenger’s concerns. I am glad of that.

But as an African American, I know there are too many examples like this all over the nation. I hope one day, we will accept our collective diversity.

“As an African American,” Jackson Lee knows blacks are routinely targeted for harassment and misplaced blame … but as a frequent flyer, she doesn’t know mix-ups like this are even more routine, that they afflict travelers of every color or creed, and that the costly, fast-paced, crowded, and error-prone conditions of air travel are practically tailor-made for short fuses?

Jackson Lee is so hopelessly invested in stoking racial resentment and division that she even lets it poison an anecdote that otherwise could have garnered her a tiny bit of empathy as an experience more than a few of her constituents can probably identify with. But again, it’s no mystery why — she simply doesn’t have anything more impressive to offer.