Bunker Morality of the Liberal/Progressives

The latest dust up in the liberal/progressive wing of the Democrat Party is centered in California – of course. It involves charges of racism – a term that apparently applies to anything with which any member of the liberal/progressive wing disagrees at the moment. But this one contains a ton of life lessons for everyone trying to make their way through the idiocy of woke culture. Let the Lost Angeles Times set the stage. In an article on October 5 and headlined: Racist remarks in leaked audio of L.A. council members spark outrage, disgust” the Los Angeles Times reported:

Behind closed doors, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez made openly racist remarks, derided some of her council colleagues and spoke in unusually crass terms about how the city should be carved up politically.

The conversation remained private for nearly a year, until a leaked recording reverberated explosively Sunday and turned the focus of a sprawling metropolis toward Los Angeles City Hall.

By Sunday evening, three of Martinez’s council colleagues had called for her to resign. The leak had quickly become a new and incendiary issue in the coming Nov. 8 election, with candidates — some of them endorsed by Martinez — having to stake out positions.

Martinez and the other Latino leaders present during the taped conversation were seemingly unaware they were being recorded as Martinez said a white council member handled his young Black son as though he were an ‘accessory’ and described Councilman Mike Bonin’s son as ‘Parece changuito,’ or ‘like a monkey.’

During the conversation with Council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, Martinez described Bonin at one point as a ‘little bitch,’ according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The Times.

Martinez also mocked Oaxacans* and said ‘F— that guy … He’s with the Blacks’ while speaking about Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón.

De León appeared to compare Bonin’s handling of his child to Martinez holding a Louis Vuitton handbag.

The conversation took place in October 2021 and focused heavily on council members’ frustration with maps that had been proposed by the city’s 21-member redistricting commission.

Along with revealing cruel and racist comments, the leaked audio offered a rare window into the behind-the-scenes machinations of the redistricting process and the bare-knuckled fighting between various groups trying to secure political power.”

The low hanging fruit in this discussion is about the hypocrisy of high elected liberal/progressive Democrats who use language in private that they routinely condemn publicly – you know “rules for thee but not for me.”

In the days following the public disclosure of this private conversation, the principle offender, Chairman of the Los Angeles City Council Nury Martinez (D-LA), was forced to resign – first as chairman and subsequently as a member of the city council. It is understandable that Ms. Martinez should resign as chair – she was responsible for maintaining decorum and a fair, open and transparent process for the Council – she failed in all regards and those Council members that entrusted her to fulfill these responsibility were right in demanding her resignation.

But forcing her resignation as a member of the Council to which she was elected by her constituents was a bow to the media and wokeness and may or may not represent the desires of her constituents. There is a recall process in California. The requirements for using it are not overly burdensome. If the voters in her district are offended by her conduct (and they probably are) she would be removed from office. And more importantly she would have nowhere to run in facing the consequences. She could not blame racism. She could not blame the press. She could not say that she was “railroaded.” And most importantly should could not say that she was a victim of a conspiracy against Hispanics.

But there is more. This conversation sounds much like “bunker morality.” According to a 2009 article by Dr. Darcia Narvaez in Psychology Today:

Bunker morality is based primarily in instincts that revolve around survival and thriving in context, instincts shared with all animals and present from birth. Bunker morality is focused on self safety. It cannot reach out to another person in a respectful, “here and now” manner. It can be narcissistic, interpreting everything according to how it affects the individual and/or ethnocentric, interpreting everything according to how it affects the unvarnished group.

When not tempered by other ethics, bunker morality is prone to gorilla tactics, acting ruthlessly to attain security at any cost, decreasing sensitivity to other, even moral, goals. When people are fearful for their own safety, they are less responsive to helping others (e.g., Mikulincer, Shaver, Gillath, & Nitzberg, 2005) and less able to reason carefully because body energy (hormones, blood flow) is mobilized for safety (fight or flight). An individual can work himself into a frenzy, especially if others around him are doing the same. Bunker morality responds to the safety or dominance wishes of self and ingroup members (real or imaginary) while shutting out the needs of anyone or anything else. Bunker morality focuses on securing survival through such things as ingroup purity (Altemeyer 2006) or ingroup maintenance of hierarchy (Nisbett & Cohen, 1996; Rosenblatt, Greenberg, Solomon, Pyszczynski, & Lyon, 1989). We can see bunker morality on display when regular people become violent or aggressive towards others. To the person in bunker morality mode, these actions seem moral.”

In this instance, Mr. Martinez and her cohorts were dealing with a threat to their control of the Council. A redistricting proposal threatened their plurality. Apparently the threat involved an increase in the number of African-Americans and others aligned with them (i.e. Mr. Bonin and Mr. Gascón). Thus it became an “us against them” struggle – at least in their imagination. The surprising thing here is that both factions are Democrats – and not just Democrats but liberal/progressive Democrats. And there was a bitterness expressed despite the fact that they share common goals and political philosophies, save one: power and the benefits that flow from it.

Nothing is as destructive as the acquisition or loss of power – particularly political power.

And this puts into perspective the vitriolic statements by those attending the meeting – at least those who also saw their power as members of the Council put at risk.

But that doesn’t account for the actions of Mr. Herrera. As president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Mr. Herrera had the totality of his union membership to represent – African American, Latino, White, Asian, indigenous* people, gays, lesbians and straights. And yet he sat there during this billingsgate of hatred and either contributed or remained mute as he empathized with their concern over losing power on the Council. What a guy! Fortunately his governing board saw it the same way and forced his resignation.

So think about this. Before you conclude that there is some racial animus between African-Americans and Latinos, think about who was involved and what their expressed concern was. It was their loss of political power – not the loss of Latinos nor the ascendancy of African-Americans. It was politicians at gut level spewing their basic prejudice. And these are the people who lecture the rest of us about social discourse. Disgusting.



*For those of you forced to endure a teachers union led education in the Portland Public Schools, Oaxacans refers to the indigenous people of the state Oaxaca, Mexico. In this case, specifically to those who have migrated to California.