Don Quixote, with his usual politeness, kindness and razor intelligence, disagreed with my saying that Harry Reid was himself being racist when he called racist the "English is the official American language" initiative. For one thing, DQ pointed out, rightly, that there's no mileage in throwing the phrase "racist" around with the same abandon as Reid. But that was just a style thing. What he really challenged me on was whether "racist" is the right phrase at all.
If you read my original post, you'll see that I thought Reid was demeaning Hispanics by implying that they were incapable of mastering another language — something I considered racist. DQ thought that a different impulse motivated Reid's statement — the fact that we (that is, English speaking Americans) are imposing ourselves on Hispanics, something that is inherently wrong. DQ says that Reid isn't saying Hispanics are incapable of mastering English; he's saying that, in his world view, we in America have no business imposing our values on anyone else.
Feeling myself trapped in an argument with a master of logic, I turned my attention to the way the liberals view African-Americans which, again, I consider a form of racism. To explain this, let me explain what I mean by racism. To me, racism means the belief that another race is inferior to your own. You can have the malevolent racism of the Nazi, which says this race is inferior and must be destroyed, or what I view as the benevolent racism of the liberals, which says this race is inferior and must be protected.
My example to DQ was how Damian Williams, one of the young black men who savaged Reginald Denny during the Rodney King riots, explained that he was "caught up in the rapture." The jury acquitted him of most charges (although I don't recall whether he testified about his rapture, or whether that was an ex post facto statement). I believe that, had the speaker been a white man who killed gays or blacks, that statement would have been held up by the liberal establishment as the most disgusting, horrific, vile statement ever. As it was, my memory (and I'm open to correction here) was that the media piled on with a bunch of stories about young men, and black rage, and mob identity, etc. In other words, being caught up in the rapture was a pretty acceptable excuse for trying to beat a man's head in because he was the wrong color, in the wrong place.
DQ argued that his theory still covers the Damian Williams scenario. He felt that, in viewing the liberal position about blacks, I was forgetting the race-warfare theory that underpins so much of the view from the Left. This view, which John McWhorter discusses in his wonderful Winning the Race : Beyond the Crisis in Black America,is that blacks have been at the receiving end of systemic white racism for so long that their only response can be anger. (It's sort of a Sister Souljah thing.) Because rage is an entirely legitimate response, then acting on that rage is entirely legitimate. That is, we're not simply excusing African-Americans for engaging in behavior that is not consistent with what we'd expect from whites — which would be racist. Instead, we're saying that anyone under those same conditions would act the same way and, in this case, it's blacks laboring under those conditions.
DQ's same theory fits in perfectly with the MSM's approach to Representative William Jefferson, the African-American Congressman from New Orleans who was caught on tape collecting $100,000 in bribes — $90,000 of which later turned up in his freezer. Within less than a week, the New York Times came out with a glowing, sympathetic portrayal of his poverty-stricken youth. I don't remember equally sympathetic portrayals of Ward Connerly, who also arose from poverty. The thing is, he didn't use that background as an excuse for criminal conduct. Instead, he argued that affirmative action is destroying African-Americans. Indeed, if I remember correctly, the MSM kept trying to portray him as essentially middle-class, his poverty-stricken youth notwithstanding. (And, interestingly, a group that describes itself as passionately committed to opposing him is working vigorously to show that he's a crook.)
Presumably, in the NY Times view, black poverty equals anger which equals entirely justifiable corruption. It's not racism to think this, it's logic. And, to carry the logic further, there's no doubt that the more vile the criminal in the dock, the more sympathy he gets from whites (as long as a white is the victim of his crime). There are no bad people, just bad environments.
Though it pains me to admit it, I think that DQ may well be right. Going back to Reid, it wasn't racism motivating his statement; it was a profound belief that we as Americans have no business expecting immigrants to conform to our cultural norms, including our language. Likewise, white Americans have no business expecting people carrying justifiable rage to control that rage. In other words, it's all about us having ruined the world, and not about "them" (whoever "them "is in any given context) being held to a lower standard. I'll therefore be careful with that "racist" word in future.
Having said that, I still think there's something profoundly wrong with the liberal view, and that it is damaging for a community (the African-American community) to be perpetually cast as the victim, rather than a group capable of controlling its own destiny. I also think that some of the more extreme liberal groups have managed to engage in classic racist conduct, not just this kind of race-warfare thing, when their target is a black Republican. (See here, here and here for examples.) I'm also very interested in what any of you have to say on this subject (provided, as always, that you're as polite as DQ was to me).